Directed by: Stanley Donen
Lord John Brindale
Irving Klinger/Edgar Klinger
Produced by: Arthur Freed, Roger Edens (Associate)
Written by: Alan Jay Lerner
Choreographed by: Nick Castle
Cinematography: Robert H. Planck
Words and Music by: Alan Jay Lerner, Burton Lane
Production Company: MGM
Premiere: New York, March 8, 1951
Synopsis (from VideoHound's Golden Movie Retriever 2001): Astaire and Powell play a brother-and-sister dance team who to London during the royal wedding of Princess Elizabeth, and find their own romances. Notable for the inspired songs and Astaire's incredible dancing on the ceiling and walls; Lerner's first screenplay. The idea came from Adele Astaire's marriage to a British Lord. (3 out of 4)
Wonderful, wonderful movie. How could I not love this movie? It’s written by Alan Jay Lerner (an alumnus of my alma mater), directed by Stanley Donen, the master of the musical, and starring Fred Astaire. Not much could go wrong. Not much did. Perhaps the plot derived most of its fun from being a parody of Fred and Adele rather than being of any real significance, and perhaps the movie is more of a series of great, fun numbers linked together by a plot rather than the other way around, but that doesn’t really matter when you have a movie as light hearted and fun as this one, with numbers as great as this one.
When people assemble clips of Fred, certain numbers which showcase his technical wizardry and absolute mastery of himself and his surroundings always are shown. This movie contributes two of them, probably more than any other of his colour movies. One is “Sunday Jumps”, an absolutely brilliant pas de duex between man and coatrack. The coatrack comes alive in Fred’s hands. A friend once quipped that it dances better than Joan Fontaine. He’s not so far off. Lately it’s been made infamous by the Dust Devil commercial and Mel Gibson did an attempt at emulation.
The other is “You’re All the World To Me.” Fred defies gravity in a legendary number. It’s amazing to watch, and unlike other contemporary attempts at high, cutting edge technology, is still as amazing to watch today as it was in 1951. Even in the 80s, the same technology with no changes was utilised by Lionel Ritchie for his music video “Dancin’ On the Ceiling” (a video also directed by Donen!).
I, of course, do not wish to sell short the other numbers. “Every Night At Seven” is delightful (but why were there no curtain calls?), “How Could You Believe Me When I Said I Loved You When You Know I’ve Been A Liar All My Life?” has Fred convincingly portraying an absolute cad (something he has been consistently unable to do up till then, so powerful was his elegant aura), “I Left My Hat In Haiti” is a powerful, high tempo number that will make you want to jump and rhumba.
Perhaps the only really bad thing is the casting of Sarah Churchill. But it’s a minor thing. This is without a doubt one of Fred’s best movies. He reaches his choreographic peak here, a peak he sustained throughout the next two movies and then slowly fell away from as he contemplated retirement again (or perhaps, because of which he contemplated retirement). Go watch this movie, even if you have to get one of those cheapo $5.99 rip-offs with bad screen quality.
The final word:
Dancing value: 9.5/10
Acting value: 7.5/10
Entertainment value: 8.5/10
Overall Ranking: 13/31
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