Shall We Dance?
Starring Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly

Presented by The Harvard Coop
May 19 - 25, 2006

Series IllustrationOne of the things that makes the films of both Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly so indelible, is that they mange to make you forget you are watching 'just' a musical while simultaneously containing some of the most spectacular dance sequences you've ever seen. From the title song in SINGIN' IN THE RAIN to Astaire dancing on the ceiling in ROYAL WEDDING, these two impeccable giants of onscreen dance remain as thrilling and influential today as the were 50 and 75 years ago.

"Of all of the places the movies have created, one of the most magical and enduring is the universe of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. To a series of movies made between 1933 and 1939, they brought such grace and humor that they became the touchstone of all things elegant. 'Whenever any kind of question of style or taste comes up,' the director Gregory Nava once told me, 'I simply ask myself - what would Fred Astaire have done?'"- Roger Ebert

"As director and choreographer, dancer and singer, acrobat and actor, Gene Kelly was one of the most vital and indispensable figures in the history of the American film musical… From out of the bijou white-walled penthouse suites in which Astaire and Rogers would rotate like figurines on a music box Kelly took dancing down into streets and squares and parks… The choreographic language that Kelly introduced into the American musical carried the very first hint of the vernacular, of slang."- Gilbert Adair, The Independent (London)

Fred Astaire Links
Filmography at IMDB.com
Biography at IMDB.com

Gene Kelly Links
Filmography at IMDB.com
Biography at IMDB.com

Dates & Showtimes

Friday, May 19
SINGIN' IN THE RAIN at 7:15
THE BAND WAGON at 5:00, 9:45

Saturday, May 20
ON THE TOWN at 2:00, 7:00
ANCHORS AWEIGH at 4:00, 9:30

Sunday, May 21
TOP HAT at 2:30, 7:00
SHALL WE DANCE at 4:45, 9:15

Monday, May 22
AN AMERICAN IN PARIS at 7:00
THE PIRATE at 4:45, 9:30

Tuesday, May 23
HOLIDAY INN at 7:15
COVER GIRL at 5:00, 9:30

Wednesday, May 24
SWING TIME *cancelled*
THE GAY DIVORCEE at 7:15
ROYAL WEDDING at 5:15, 9:30

Thursday, May 25
ZIEGFELD FOLLIES at 8:00

Film Descriptions

SINGIN' IN THE RAIN
(1952) dir Stanley Donen & Gene Kelly w/Kelly, Dennis O'Connor, Debbie Reynolds, Jean Hagen, Cyd Charisse [103 min]

It's hard to beat numbers like the title song or "Make 'Em Laugh,"but add to that a genuinely witty and rousing old Hollywood spoof/homage and you've got what is ranked by many among the top ten best films ever made. SINGIN' IN THE RAIN takes place during the introduction of talkies and Kelly plays hard-working matinee idol Don Lockwood. Fortunately for him and his goofy buddy Cosmo Brown (O'Connor), he's got the voice to match the good looks. Unfortunately for his onscreen paramour Lina Lamont (Hagen), she really doesn't. Her gratingly squeaky voice spells doom for her career until the studio pulls in young and hungry Kathy Selden (Reynolds) to dub her part. Kelly falls for Reynolds and… well… the rest is screen history.

Related Links
Brattle Theatre Film Notes
Info at IMDB.com

Trailer (QT)

THE BAND WAGON
(1953) dir Vincente Minnelli w/Fred Astaire, Cyd Charisse, Oscar Levant, Nanette Fabray, Jack Buchanan [111 min]

Movie musical master Vincente Minelli (father of Liza and husband of Judy Garland) directs this Technicolor extravaganza with Astaire and the sumptuous Charisse. With "That's Entertainment"rivaling SINGIN' IN THE RAIN's "Make 'Em Laugh"for most exuberant showbiz production number, THE BAND WAGON remains among the pinnacles of movie musicals. Astaire plays faded movie star Tony Hunter who is convinced by his friends to star in a Broadway show… quicker than you can say "pretentious disaster"the production is hijacked by its self-important director who hires a famous ballerina to star opposite Tony. Ah, the stuff that farce is made of…

Related Links
Brattle Theatre Film Notes
Info at IMDB.com
Trailer (WMP)

ON THE TOWN
(1949) dir Stanley Donen & Gene Kelly w/Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Jules Munshin, Betty Garrett, Ann Miller, Vera-Ellen [98 min]

"New York, New York, a wonderful town!"The first Hollywood musical to be filmed on location, ON THE TOWN, features a trio of sailors (Kelly, Sinatra, and Munshin) on leave in the Big Apple. Each has his own mission while on the town, Sinatra wants to sightsee (and subsequently gets hijacked by an amourous lady cab driver), Munshin is looking for fun (and finds it despite himself with a female anthropologist), and Kelly falls head-over-heels for a model on a poster and goes on an all-out search for 'Miss Turnstiles.' One of the quintessential musicals of MGM's legendary Freed Unit, the hitmakers responsible for many of the films in this series as well as gems like Brigadoon, Show Boat, and Annie Get Your Gun.

Related Links
Brattle Theatre Film Notes
Info at IMDB.com
Trailer (WMP)

ANCHORS AWEIGH
(1945) dir George Sidney w/Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Kathryn Grayson, Dean Stockwell, Rags Ragland [143 min]

Sinatra and Kelly's first onscreen pairing finds Kelly in the role of womanizer and Sinatra in the role of gee-whiz "romantical type fella."The two are sailors on leave in San Diego who find their way to Los Angeles and, inevitably, to Hollywood where they encounter beautiful women, love-triangles, star-making auditions, and Jerry The Mouse. Kelly himself choreographed the dances and his inventiveness is on full view. Unlike the purist Astaire, who insisted that all sequences be shot, as near as possible, in a single medium shot, Kelly wanted to get his hands dirty with all of the tricks that cinema afforded him. The dance numbers fairly overflow with his big ideas about dance onscreen.

Related Links
Brattle Theatre Film Notes
Info at IMDB.com
Trailer (WMP)

TOP HAT
(1935) dir Mark Sandrich w/Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Edward Everett Horton, Erik Rhodes, Eric Blore [101 min]

The patented Astaire and Rogers chemistry is on full view in this timeless romantic musical-comedy. Astaire plays a dancer (surprise) who is contracted by producer Horace Hardwick (the terminally and hilariously flustered Horton) to put on a new show. Demonstrating his footwork one night he annoys his downstairs neighbor, who happens to be an attractive young woman. Sparks fly and mistaken identities ensue as the plot thickens and the dancing intensifies. The marvelous Irving Berlin score features the classic "Cheek To Cheek" and Astaire's signature number "Top Hat, White Tie and Tails.”

Related Links
Info at IMDB.com
Trailer (Real/WMP)

SHALL WE DANCE
(1937) dir Mark Sandrich w/Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Edward Everett Horton, Eric Blore [109 min]

Director Sandrich was a physicist before he got into the movies, and his scientific leanings helped in dealing with the perfectionist Astaire. In order to create order on the set, Sandrich would draw up blueprints for each of the musical numbers so he had a precise idea of where everything was supposed to go. This technique must have come in particularly handy in SHALL WE DANCE which includes a tour-de-force dance performance by Fred and Ginger on roller skates in an ice rink! Another mistaken-identity/love-at-first-sight story is highlighted by the only George and Ira Gershwin score written for Astaire and Rogers. Impeccable from start to finish.

Related Links
Info at IMDB.com

AN AMERICAN IN PARIS
(1951) dir dir Vincente Minnelli w/Kelly, Leslie Caron, Oscar Levant [113 min]

Another gorgeous Technicolor achievement from Minnelli, this time featuring Gene Kelly as an ex-pat and aspiring painter who spends his days in Paris singing dancing and joking with his acerbic best-friend, an erstwhile concert pianist. Romantic complications (and musical numbers) ensue when a wealthy heiress and an already-involved French girl get caught in Kelly's romantic triangle. Immortal songs by the great George and Ira Gershwin make the film sparkle with tunes like "I Got Rhythm"and "S'Wonderful.”

Related Links
Brattle Theatre Film Notes
Info at IMDB.com
Trailer (WMP)

THE PIRATE
(1948) dir Vincente Minnelli w/Kelly, Judy Garland, Walter Slezak, Gladys Cooper, Reginald Owen [102 min]

Charming songs by the great Cole Porter are only a backdrop for this exciting exploration of Kelly's athletic prowess. A great riff on the swashbuckling matinee film, THE PIRATE stars Judy Garland as Manuela, a young girl who is betrothed but spends her days daydreaming about the infamous pirate Macoco. Infatuated with Manuela, a traveling singer (Kelly) impersonates the pirate to try and impress her. Kelly struts and poses but the real piece-de-la-resistance is a 'specialty' dance number by the amazing duo of the Nicholas Brothers - who, if you have never heard of, or have never seen, are absolutely a sensation not to be missed!

Related Links
Info at IMDB.com
Trailer (WMP)

HOLIDAY INN
(1942) dir Mark Sandrich w/Astaire, Bing Crosby, Marjorie Reynolds, Virginia Dale, Walter Abel [100 min]

HOLIDAY INN is not just a Christmas movie (although it does include the immortal "White Christmas"and "Happy Holiday”). In fact, the film features a musical number revolving around virtually every holiday you can imagine… even Lincoln's Birthday! And no wonder since it takes place at, literally, the Holiday Inn, a Connecticut nightclub/country inn owned by uber-crooner Bing Crosby. The plot, such as it is, involves the inevitable love-triangle as friendly rivals Fred and Bing compete for the attentions of lovely dance partner Marjorie Reynolds. But it's really all about Irving Berlin's songs, Bing's singing, and Astaire's hoofing.

Related Links
Info at IMDB.com
Trailer (WMP)

COVER GIRL
(1944) dir Charles Vidor w/Kelly, Rita Hayworth, Phil Silvers, Eve Arden [107 min]

Jerome Kern and Ira Gershwin's tunes illuminate this film that effectively made both Gene Kelly and Rita Hayworth the stars we know them as today. The success of the film made both stars' studios take them seriously - with Kelly going on to co-direct many of his most famous films and Hayworth being given roles that she had previously been denied. Hayworth plays a nightclub dancer in Brooklyn who wins a contest to become a cover girl. As she experiences increasing fame and fortune she becomes distanced from her roots with former flame and dance partner Kelly and comedic sidekick Phil Silvers. But can riches and celebrity ever replace true love?

Related Links
Info at IMDB.com
Trailer (WMP)

SWING TIME
We regret that, due to print availability, today's screening of SWING TIME has been replaced with THE GAY DIVORCEE.
(1936) dir Georege Stevens w/Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Helen Broderick, Victor Moore [103 min]

Considered to be, along with TOP HAT, the pinnacle of the Astaire/Rogers partnership, SWING TIME does indeed feature some of the original dynamic duo's signature numbers. Astaire sings "The Way You Look Tonight,"the two pair for "A Fine Romance,"and, of course, they prove themselves to be masters of the dance with "Pick Yourself Up,"in which Astaire goes from pretending to not know how to dance to a furiously tap-dancing virtuoso.

Related Links
Info at IMDB.com
Trailer (Real/WMP)

THE GAY DIVORCEE
Plays in place of SWING TIME.
(1934) dir Mark Sandrich w/Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Alice Brady, Edward Everett Horton, Betty Grable [107 min]

Winner of the first Oscar for Best Song ("The Continental"), THE GAY DIVORCEE marks the first starring collaboration between Astaire & Rogers and, as is frequently typical, the plot is ephemeral but revolves around a desired divorce and layers of mistaken identity. The real delights, of course, are the chemistry between Fred and Ginger, the comedic buffoonery of Edward Everett Horton, and the dancing, the dancing, the dancing!

We regret that, due to print availability, today's screening of SWING TIME has been replaced with THE GAY DIVORCEE.

Related Links
Info at IMDB.com
Trailer (Real/WMP)

ROYAL WEDDING
(1951) dir Stanley Donen w/Astaire, Jane Powell, Peter Lawford, Sarah Churchill, Keenan Wynn [93 min]

One of only two pairings between Donen and Astaire, ROYAL WEDDING features two of Astaire's most famous dance sequences: one in which he dances with a laundry rack and the other where he appears to dance up the walls of a room and onto the ceiling. Although the film is worth it merely for those two scenes, it also features a charming plot with Astaire and Jane Powell as a famous brother-sister stage dance team who travel to Engalnd for a show and each become embroiled in individual love affairs that threaten to break up their act.

Related Links
Info at IMDB.com
Trailer (WMP)

ZIEGFELD FOLLIES
(1946) dir Vincente Minnelli and various others w/Astaire, Kelly, Judy Garland, Lucille Ball, Lena Horne, Red Skelton, Esther Williams, William Powell, Cyd Charisse, Hume Cronyn [110 min]

Astaire and Kelly appeared on film together only twice. Once was in That's Entertainment, Part II when Astaire was in his 70s (A sequence that wasn't so much dancing as "moving around"according to Astaire). The first time was in this musical revue film which also happens to feature songs, comedy, and, why not, a little opera. Ostensibly celebrating the life of the great Broadway producer Florenz Ziegfeld, the film is really just an excuse for MGM and producer Arthur Freed to throw a bunch of their most famous stars into a film together… but when the result is this much fun who cares?

Related Links
Info at IMDB.com
Trailer (WMP)

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