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The Barkleys of Broadway
The Barkleys of Broadway
DVD ~ Fred Astaire
Offered by StormyDayFlix
Price: $43.41
36 used & new from $7.18

4.0 out of 5 stars Good finale for Asaire and Rogers., January 22, 2009
This review is from: The Barkleys of Broadway (DVD)
After they appeared in "The Story Of Vernon and Irene Castle", Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers went their seperate ways. Fred went to MGM studios while Ginger stayed a little while longer at RKO (where they made their classic movies together).
Ginger sought out comedies and serious dramatic roles, winning an Oscar for "Kitty Foyle". Fred made several musicals, then retired briefly. "Easter Parade", with Judy Garland, was Fred's comeback. Judy was supposed to be in "The Barkleys of Broadway", but when she dropped out, Ginger stepped in. When it was made in 1949, it was Fred and Ginger's first film together in ten years. It would also be their last.
Josh (Fred) and Dinah (Ginger) Barkley are married stage stars. When Dinah wants to play straight dramatic roles, it leads to the end of their partnership and problems in their marriage. Josh comes up with a scheme to get them back together both personally and professionally.
The smart and witty script was by the husband and wife team of Betty Comden and Adolph Green, who would go on to write the screenplay for "Singin' in the Rain" three years later.
The highlights are, of course, the production numbers. "My One and Only Highland Fling" is performed by Fred and Ginger wearing kilts. Fred gets a wonderful tap solo, "Shoes With Wings On", in which dozens of shoes come to life and dance by themselves. Silly, yes, but it works.
George and Ira Gershwin's "They Can't Take That Away From Me", which Fred had sung to Ginger in "Shall We Dance", is reprised here. At Ginger's suggestion, they did a dance to it this time, because there was no dance included with it when they did it before. The dance for this version was a lovley one.
This film may seem slow at first, but repeat viewings show how classy, elegant and funny it really is.
The DVD includes a "Making Of" featurette, the trailer, a cute Droopy cartoon,and a forgetable short subject.
Fans of Astaire and Rogers will want to add this to their collection.


The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle
The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle
DVD ~ Fred Astaire
35 used & new from $2.93

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A classy biography, January 19, 2009
"The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle"(1939) was a change of pace film for Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. It was the only time they starred in a true story. It was also their last film togehter at RKO studios.
During the 1910's, Vernon (Fred) and Irene (Ginger) became world famous dancers, introducing several popular dances to Americans for the first time, including the fox trot, polka, and their own "Castle Walk".
After Vernon and Irene marry, Irene encourages Vernon to give up his flop comedy carrer and focus on his dancing instead. With the help of their friend Maggie (character actress Edna May Oliver in a good performance), they become the toast of Paris before hitting it big in the states.
It should be noted that Irene was an American and Vernon British.
After their fame in the US, Vernon and Irene became trendsetters, not only with their dancing, but with many products with their name on them. Shortly afterward, WWI begins, and Vernon decides to join the royal air force.
Some facts were changed for the movie. The Castles' friend played by Walter Brennan was black in real life. His race was changed in the script because southern exhibiters in 1939 would otherwise have refused to show the film. The lady that Oliver's character was based on was a lesbian, but that was against the censorship code in place at that time. Despite the changes, the movie is still pretty good.It is nicely acted and is a classy way for Fred and Ginger to go out. They were reunited ten years later at MGM for "The Berkleys of Broadway".
The DVD includes the first Tom and Jerry cartoon, "Puss Gets the Boot", in which Tom was named Jasper. Nice bit of history. On the down side, there is also a terrible musical short.
"The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle" tanked at the box office in 1939, but this DVD is a good way to rediscover it.


Carefree
Carefree
DVD ~ Fred Astaire
Offered by newtownvideos
Price: $27.15
30 used & new from $9.06

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Light entertainment with Fred and Ginger, January 17, 2009
This review is from: Carefree (DVD)
In "Carefree"(1938), Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers were teamed on screen for the eighth time. It was also the fifth time they worked with director Mark Sandrich ("The Gay Divorcee") and the third with composer Irving Berlin ("Top Hat", "Follow The Fleet").
Although this movie is fun to watch, it is one of Fred and Ginger's lesser films. Except for "Change Partners", it isn't one of Berlin's best scores.
Fred plays Tony, a psychiatrist who has been asked by his friend Steve(Ralph Bellamy)to examine his girlfriend , radio star Amanda (played by Ginger).Steve wants to find out why Amanda is so commitment phobic.
What happens instead is that Amanda starts having feelings for Tony. Looking to help Steve, Tony hypnotizes Amanda to make her forget her feelings for him. But when Tony realizes he loves Amanda, too, he has to undo the hypnosis so they can be together.
The emphasis here is on the comedy, rather than the music. It leads up to field day for Ginger, with a chance to do broad comedy and slapstick. She does it very well, but the writing of this movie is all over the place.
As far as musical scenes, we see Fred do a good solo involving practicing golf while tap dancing. In a lovely dream sequence, Fred and Ginger dance
in slow motion, ending with their first on screen kiss. Fred was not comfortable doing love scenes, so this is one time they did it(A kiss in "Swing Time" happened behind a door, so it doesn't count).
"The Yam" was a silly song sung by Ginger, but once Fred joins her for a dance, it becomes worthy. "Change Partners" is the best song and dance in the movie.
Despite its flaws, the movie is made memorable by Fred and Ginger.
The DVD has only two extras, a musical short with a then unknown Betty Hutton, and a cute cartoon in which food label icons come to life.
This DVD is OK, but is best recommended to Fred and Ginger's biggest fans(such as myself).


Shall We Dance
Shall We Dance
DVD ~ Fred Astaire
Offered by maddiekat
Price: $9.80
79 used & new from $3.02

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Astaire, Rogers and Gershwin, well matched., January 16, 2009
This review is from: Shall We Dance (DVD)
Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers swing their way through another wonderful film, "Shall We Dance", released in 1937.
The superior score was by George and Ira Gershwin. This is one of George's last projects, he died a few weeks after the movie opened.
This time, Fred plays Petrov, a ballet star who for some reason is posing as Russian. Ginger plays Linda, a broadway dancer. Petrov tries to persue Linda by booking himself on the same cruise she is on.
Watch Fred's spectacular solo in "Slap That Bass", in which taps in time to an art-deco engine. On the promenade deck ,Linda is walking her dog while Petrov tries to get her attention. Listen for Gershwin's wonderful backing score here. Eventually, she begins to come around.
Meanwhile, Petrov's friend Jeffrey (Edward Everett Horton in his third Astaire-Rogers film) tries to get rid of Petrov's old girlfriend, Denise, by telling her that Petrov is married to Linda. The plan backfires when Denise tattles about the marriage to gossip columnists. Worse, the gossips say that Linda is pregnant.
Saddled with unwanted publicity, the dancers decide to get married for real so they can get a public divorce. Of course they end up falling in love for real.
In a light hearted scene, Fred and Ginger sing "Let's Call The whole Thing Off" and dance to it on roller skates. It is often said that this scene required some 150 takes to get it right. The marvelous result is well worth it.
In a scene when they are alone together, Fred sings the classic "They Can't Take That Away From Me". This tune was nominated for an Oscar for Best Song. It should have won, but didn't.
The music, romance and comedy blend well together. Fine is support is provided by Horton in his usual fussy role. The scenes in which Petrov tricks Jeffrey into thinking that he is seasick, and later into believing that the boat is sinking, are very funny. Eric Blore, in his fifth F&G film, is a riot as a hotel manager. Linda's reaction to Petrov's real name (Peter P. Peters) while they are getting married is priceless.
The DVD has an OK commentary track, a new "making of" short, a
musical short subject, and an amusing cartoon, "Toy Town Hall".
You can seldom go wrong with an Astaire-Rogers musical, and "Shall We Dance" is one of their most enjoyable.


Swing Time
Swing Time
DVD ~ Fred Astaire
Offered by Phase 3, LLC
Price: $11.94
49 used & new from $2.15

5.0 out of 5 stars What a fine romance this is., January 16, 2009
This review is from: Swing Time (DVD)
Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers teamed for the sixth time in "Swing Time"(1936), one of their best films.
This time the director was George Stevens, who would later direct such classics as "Gunga Din", "Giant", and "Shane". This was his only musical, and he did an excellent job.The outstanding score was by Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields. Some of the songs they wrote for this movie wound up on the hit parade in its time.
Fred is a gambler and dancer named Lucky (of course), who gets Penny (played by Ginger) fired from her job as a dance teacher after a series of misunderstandings. He gets her job back by impressing her boss,Mr. Gordon (Eric Blore) with how mich he "learned" in a short time. Mr. Gordon arranges for them to audition at the Silver Slipper nightclub, where their carrers take off, and they start to fall in love.
Things get complicated by Lucky's previous engagement to the girl back home (Betty Furness), his gambling problem, and Penny's other love interest, Ricardo (Georges Metaxa). Comic relief comes from Lucky's friend Pop (Victor Moore) and Penny's friend Mabel (Helen Broderick, from
"Top Hat").
All of this is enjoyable, but needless to say, the songs and dances are always the highlight of Fred and Ginger's movies.
"Pick Yourself Up" is a funny comedy-dance routine. "The Way You Look Tonight", which won an Oscar for Best Song", is sung by Fred while Ginger shampoos her hair. This song shows her just how much he likes her, and she stars to become smitten herself."Waltz In Swing Time" is lovely and romantic. "A Fine Romance", another comic highlight, takes place in the snowy outdoors. "Bojangles of Harlem", with Fred in blackface, is a tribute to Bill Robinson. Today, we know why blackface is offensive, but the spirit in which it was intended was not. When things seem to be going wrong for Lucky and Penny, this leads to "Never Gonna Dance", perhaps the most emotionally moving song and dance in a any Astaire-Rogers movie. The implication being that if they can't be together romantically, they would rather not dance with anyone else professionally. This being a comic love story, guess how it works out in the end.
"Swing Time", one of the best in the Astaire-Rogers series, usually is on any list of classic movies, musical or not. Roger Ebert even included it in his book, "The Great Movies", in which he notes how much Fred and Ginger's love of performing,involving countless hours of rehearsal, shows on screen.
The DVD includes a noteworhty commentary by Asataire biographer John Mueller, a cute cartoon spoofing Bing Crosby, and a musical short subject. There is also a short film about the making of "Swing Time". I own all of the Fred and Ginger series on DVD, but this is one ranks with the best discs out there.


Follow the Fleet
Follow the Fleet
DVD ~ Fred Astaire
Offered by Angels Loft Sales Group
Price: $19.99
54 used & new from $0.50

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Relax. Let youself go. Enjoy this movie., January 11, 2009
This review is from: Follow the Fleet (DVD)
After the huge success of "Top Hat", Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers teamed up for the fifth time in "Follow The Fleet",released in February 1936. Also returning from "Top Hat" were director Mark Sandrich,dance director Hermes Pan and composer Irving Berlin. The result was another wonderful musical,with another fine score by Berlin.
This movie is different from the earlier Fred and Ginger films in that they already know each other,being ex-lovers at the start of the movie,instead of meeting for the first time. It also has a different role for Fred. As a sailor, he spends much of the screen time in naval uniforms. He doesn't dress up fancy until the end.
Bake (Fred) joined the navy hoping to forget Sherry (Ginger) after their break up. But the ship is coming back to port. Soon Bake and Sherry will find their way back to each other.
In the film's other plot,Bake's navy buddy Bilge (Randolph Scott) falls for Sherry's sister Connie (Harriet Nelson, billed under her maiden name ,Hilliard).
Bake and Sherry used to be a professional dance team before they broke up. Much of the plot concerns whether ot not they will get back together both personally and professionally.
Needless to say it is the songs and production numbers that highlight the movie. Many of the songs from the movie made the hit parade at the time.
Fred opens with the witty "We Saw The Sea"("We joined the navy to see the the world! And what did we see? We saw the sea"). Ginger sings "Let Yourself Go", the theme of which is repeated several times throughout the movie. Harriet sings two songs, including "Get Thee Behind Me Satan", which had been dropped from "Top Hat". She actually sings pretty well,too.
Fred and Ginger each get a solo tap number. The best dance sequence is at the end. In "Let's Face The Music And Dance", with Bake and Sherry reunited in front of an audience, Fred and Ginger are back in formal wear. Fred in his usual tux and Ginger in a beaded evening gown. She even accidently hit Fred in the face with a heavily beaded sleeve! That was the best take they did of that dance, however, so it was the one that got used. Watch that amazing last step when they leave the stage!
Another highlight is Lucille Ball in a small role as the wisecracking Kitty,who helps Sherry give Connie a makeover and find her true self.
With the right combination of breezy comedy, sweet romance, and that wonderful dancing, this ranks among Fred and Ginger's best.
Extras on the DVD include the trailer,a musical short, and a cartoon. No commentary track, however. There is on okay "Making of" featurette.
If you enjoy Fred and Ginger as much as I do,this DVD is for you.


Top Hat
Top Hat
DVD ~ Edward Everett Horton
Price: $13.86
75 used & new from $2.46

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the screen's all time great musicals., January 10, 2009
This review is from: Top Hat (DVD)
If you ever need to see a movie that picks you up when you are down, you can never go wrong with a movie starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. The joyful "Top Hat" is one of their very best.
Fred is a famous American tap dancer, Jerry. At a hotel in London, his room is located above that of Dale(played by Ginger), an American fashion model. When he dances the song "No Strings" in the middle of the night, she goes upstairs to complain. He knows right away that he likes her.
When she goes back down to her room, he puts sand on the floor, and dances a soft shoe. This puts her to sleep, the first of many charming scenes.
Dale is interested in Jerry, too. But when Dale mistakes Jerry for the husband of her friend, Madge(Helen Broderick), she thinks he's a cheating playboy. Madge's husband Horace (Edward Everett Horton) just happens to be a friend of Jerry's.
Dale decides to run off with the fashion designer Alberto (Erik Rhodes) and marry him in Venice. When Jerry realizes the misunderstading, he must get to Venice to stop Dale from marrying a man she doesn't truly love. Fine support is provided by Eric Blore as Horace's right hand man, whose job it it is to follow Dale. Look fast for Lucille Ball as a flower shop clerk.
Director Mark Sandrich ("The Gay Divoree") keeps the witty script moving at a nice, fast pace. The whole look of the film, including an art deco Venice,is stunningly beautiful.
The best parts are, of course, the production numbers.They are choreographed by Hermes Pan, with the music by Irving Berlin.
The score is Berlin's best. "Cheek to Cheek" is one of Fred and Ginger's most romantic dances. "Top Hat, White Tie and Tails", with Fred mowing down his male backing chorus with his cane, is a delight. "Isn't It A Lovely Day To Be Caught In The Rain", a Fred and Ginger dance at a gazebo, is sweet. "The Piccolino",is sung by Ginger and she dances with Fred to it. This song was the last time Fred allowed a large scale production number in one of his movies. In the future, the focus would be on Fred and his partner, not dozens of dancers.
"Top Hat" was nominated for four Oscars, inclding Best Picture. It also turns up on many lists of great musicals.
The print of the film for this DVD is top notch. There is also an okay Bob Hope short and a cute cartoon called "Paging Miss Glory".
A new "making of" short about the movie is included. There is also a commentary track by Fred's daughter Ava and film historian Larry Billman, that is worth a listen ,if only once.
This DVD is worth the price.


Roberta
Roberta
DVD ~ Irene Dunne
Offered by The Squirrel with the Dragon Tattoo
Price: $31.90
21 used & new from $9.95

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lesser Astaire-Rogers is still worth seeing., January 4, 2009
This review is from: Roberta (DVD)
I own all of the Astaire-Rogers films on DVD. I can watch any of them, even this one,the least of their movies.
John Kent(Randolph Scott)is a football coach who is visting Paris with his best friend,Huckleberry Hanes(What a name that is!He is played by Fred Astaire),a bandleader. While in Paris, John visits his rich aunt Roberta(Helen Westley),the owner of a fashion business. John falls in love with Roberta's assistant,Stephanie (Irene Dunne). When Roberta dies,she leaves the business to John, who enlists Stephanie's help in running it. Lizzie (Ginger Rogers) is Stephanie's friend at the fashion house.
For some reason, Stephanie is really a Russian princess and Lizzie is pretending to be a Polish countess. The reason why isn't explained very well. The plot of this one moves like a snail, and Scott seems stuck saying the word "swell" so much, you can't keep count.
The music and dancing are so excellent, however,it makes it worth seeing.
The nice score by Jerome Kern includes such classics as "Yesterdays", "Lovely To Look At", and "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes", all sung by Dunne in the operetta format.Fred and Ginger dance to "I'll Be Hard To Handle" and "I Won't Dance". These are the best reasons to see the movie.
The DVD includes two short subjects, one a cartoon.It also has a radio show promoting the movie, and the (badly worn) trailer. The print of the movie is pretty good.Mostly worhty of you time if you are a Fred and Ginger fan.


The Gay Divorcee
The Gay Divorcee
DVD ~ Fred Astaire
Offered by MoreThanMachines
Price: $18.46
31 used & new from $4.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Astaire and Rogers at their best., January 4, 2009
This review is from: The Gay Divorcee (DVD)
"The Gay Divorcee" is one of the great musicals of all time. It is also one of my favorite films, usually in my personal top five.
Guy (Fred Astaire) is a professional dancer touring Europe. Mimi (Ginger Rogers) is a married woman seeking a divorce from her husband. Her dizzy Aunt Hortense (Alice Brady) hires Guy's friend Egbert(Edward Everett Horton) as Mimi's attorney.
After a misunderstanding at a customs hall in England, Mimi is resistant to Guy's attempts to woo her. At the hotel where they are both staying, Guy and Mimi dance to Cole Porter's "Night and Day". After the spectacular dance, we see that Mimi is finally coming around,becoming smitten with him.
Things become complicated when Egbert hires a paid correspondent,Tonetti
(the very funny Erik Rhodes) to help Mimi get her divorce. Mimi mistakes Guy for the correspodent, leading to many misunderstandings that have to be resolved before the happy ending can be acheived.
There is much to enjoy in this movie. Yes, the plot is the type that only happens in musicals. But it sophisticated and funny. The dancing is superb. The songs themselves are excellent too. Fred's rendition of "Night and Day" is the defintive performance of it."Let's Knock Knees", sung by the then unknown Betty Grable, is a charming moment. And the 17- minute production number "The Continental" is an eye-popping spectacle that won the first ever Oscar awarded for best song.
"The Gay Divorcee" was a big hit in its time, moving Fred And Ginger up to fourth position on the list of box office stars. It also received four other Oscar nominations, including Best Picture.
The supporting cast is outstanding. Brady's dizzy dame act is a riot. A subplot teams her romantically with Horton. Horton's fussy character is well matched with hers.Look for Eric Blore, who appears in five Astaire-Rogers muscials, as waiter who steals his scenes when he appears.
The DVD includes the theatrical trailer, and an audio-only presentation of an old radio show promoting the film. The radio show is okay. But two musical short subjects don't really add that much to the DVD. There is also a musical cartoon short.
The DVD offers excellent picture and sound quality, making it a "must own".


Flying Down To Rio
Flying Down To Rio
DVD ~ Dolores del Rio
Offered by The Squirrel with the Dragon Tattoo
Price: $28.45
37 used & new from $1.42

4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable start for Astaire and Rogers, January 4, 2009
This review is from: Flying Down To Rio (DVD)
"Flying Down To Rio" is where the screen's greatest dance team, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, first started.
Fred had only one screen credit and Ginger only a few. They were fourth and fifth billed in the credits. But they stole the movie from the rest of the cast.
Gene Raymond (perhaps best known today for Hitchcock's "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" with Carole Lombard) stars as Roger, a band leader and pilot. The only work he can find for his band is a gig in Rio De Janero,Brazil. The stunningly beautiful Mexican actress Dolores del Rio ("What Price Glory") was cast as his love interest,Belinha. She in turn, is engaged to Julio(Raul Roulien). Fred and Ginger are Fred and Honey, members of the band.
Romantic complications happen when Belinha becomes torn between her feelings for both Roger and Julio, who are best friends.
Roger writes a song for her, "Orchids in the Moonlight"(a lovely song,actually). Of course, Julio sings it to her first.
Meanwhile Fred and Honey find that the "Carioca" is the most popular dance in Brazil and give it a try. Honey tells Fred "We'll show them a thing or three." That they certainly do, hitting the dance floor and starting a ten minute production number with other dancers, rotating pianos, and such. The "Carioca" was such a memorable scene that it popularized that particular dance here in the states, starting a dance craze.
There is also a subplot in which the band works to save the hotel from closure. This leads to the finale, which involves braless showgirls (this was before the code)dancing while strapped to the wings of airplanes, while an audience watches with binoculars.Only in the movies!
While all of this is silly, it still holds up as nicely paced, light, enjoyable fluff. And it gave us Fred and Ginger,who would go on to greater things.
The DVD includes a Three Stooges short and a cartoon called "I Like Mountain Music." I guess they are included to recreate the feel of what it was like to watch a full program on the big screen during the 30's.
The theatrical trailer is also included. The print of the film is pretty good, too. This is a good DVD for fans of Fred and Ginger.


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