Directed by: Jean Negulesco
Jervis Pendleton III
Also featuring: Ray Anthony, Barrie Chase
Produced by: Samuel G. Engel
Written by: Henry Ephron, Pheobe Ephron, Jean Webster
Choreographed by: Roland Petit, David Robel
Cinematography: Leon Shamroy
Words and Music by: Johnny Mercer, Alfred Newman, Alex North (Ballet)
Production Company: Twentieth-Century Fox
Premiere: New York, May 5, 1955
Synopsis (from VideoHound's Golden Movie Retriever 2001): Far from the greatest musicals, but enjoyable. An eccentric millionaire glimpses a French orphan and becomes her benefactor. Her musing over his identity spawns some surreal (often inexplicable) dance numbers, but love conquers all, even lesser Johnny Mercer songs. From a story be Jean Webster, also done in 1919 with Mary Pickford, 1931 with Janet Gaynor and 1935 with Shirley Temple as "Curley Top." (3 out of 4)
The first Fred Astaire musical I ever saw. And thought I’ve seen all the others since, it’s still one of my favourites in many ways. It was one of Fred’s favourites, even though it was done under extreme duress as his wife Phyllis died just before filming commences. He gives such a professional performance that you can’t tell.
The plot is definitely a plus- it’s one of the best Fred ever had. The deal with the age gap in a plausible, in fact very realistic way, and the only major plot twist that lies on an improbability is dealt with very well. The chemistry between the leads is excellent.
Chances are, though, you’ve seen this in pan and scan. With the advent of widescreen, Fred tried to take advantage of it by choreographing wide movements but quite annoyingly, pan and scan cuts off the dancers at times. Even in the non-dancing scenes, the camera is sometimes centred on the wrong spots.
What I don’t like are the dream ballets. Two (!) in one movie. The first was okay, but the second was just silly at times. Leslie Caron could not carry out a seductive number. She was way too fresh faced and innocent for that.
Other than that, it’s a wonderful movie, full of hope and joy and love and happiness and dreams coming true. I prefer this to “Annie”, the other major orphan musical. Telly Savalas may be cool, but he can’t dance!
The final word:
Dancing value: 8/10
Acting value: 7/10
Entertainment value: 8/10
Overall Ranking: 23/31
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