Produced by: Roger Edens
Written by: Leonard Gershe
Choreographed by: Fred Astaire, Eugene Loring
Cinematography: Ray June
Words and Music by: George and Ira Gershwin, Leonard Gershe, Roger Edens
Production Company: Paramount
Premiere: New York, March 28, 1957
Synopsis (from VideoHound's Golden Movie Retriever 2001): A musical satire on beatniks and the fashion scene also features a May-December romance between Astaire and the ever-lovely Hepburn. He is a high-fashion photographer (based on Richard Avedon); she is a Greenwich Village bookseller fond of shapeless, drab clothing. He decides to take her to Paris and show her what modeling's all about. The elegant musical score features classic Gershwin. The laserdisc includes the original theatrical trailer and is available in widescreen. (3 out of 4)
I first saw this movie as an Audrey Hepburn fan in my pre-Fred days. This movie is responsible for converting me into the Fred fan I am today. Despite second billing behind Audrey, a lot more wrinkles and a lot fewer outfits, Fred walks away with this movie in his back pocket. There’s a lot to like here: visually stunning moments, the locale, the music, the acting, the direction, the actors. But it falls short in one key area: the dancing. Aside from “Let’s Kiss And Make Up” and briefly in “Clap Yo Hands”, the rest of the dancing doesn’t really appeal to me. Audrey, in fact, makes me wince at times, not because of a Joan Fontaine lack of ability, but because it seems like she’s trying so desperately hard to be a good dancer and you want her so much to succeed- but she fails.
That being said, the non-dancing scenes are excellent. Audrey, being primarily an actor rather than a dancer, succeeds here like none of Fred’s other partners. And how about that speaking voice? Kay Thompson, making one of her few appearances on camera after all her vital work behind the scenes as part of the Freed unit at MGM, is funny and does well, hamming it up and having a good time. Fred himself just gets better at acting as time goes by, like fine vintage wine. It’s more subtle and nuanced and expressive.
I must mention Stanley Donen’s direction. He’s an excellent director and he is a wizard at tricking up the camera. It shows all over- everything just looks so darn good!
This movie may be a first- a Fred movie where the dancing wouldn’t rank among the primary reasons to watch it. But the dancing is still really good, there are many other compelling reasons, and watch this movie you should.