Having spent rather a lot of the week watching the 'Begin the Beguine' number from 'Broadway Melody of 1940' I thought of taking a look at the different MGM pictures made by Ginger and Fred separately and indeed for one glorious film together
Fred's first movie for MGM was also his first step into motion pictures, he'd signed for RKO with the imminent start of 'Flying Down to Rio' expected, they weren't ready so they lent Fred to MGM for 'Dancing Lady' starring 'Clark Gable' and 'Joan Crawford' far too similar to what was being done at Warner Bros by Busby Berkley it's main claim to fame (at least as far as i can see as that's how its marketed on the UK dvd!) is it was Fred's first screen appearance! He appeared as himself in the movie, in his autobiograhy he said
'To have Clark Gable call me out by my own name and to play a scene with him and Joan Crawford was, I thought, a great way to be presented to the vast movie public - to many who had never seen or heard of me in spite of all my years on the stage.'
Fred's first non RKO movie in 7 years was his second movie for MGM 'Broadway Melody of 1940'paired with Eleanor Powell, just about the best female tap dancer in the movie business, it's interesting to see them dance together. Begin the Beguine towards the end of the movie is one of the best tap numbers ever captured on film, if you haven't seen it, its worth a look, its on youtube if you don't fancy watching the whole movie!
|Fred, Eleanor and George Murphy (joint co-star)|
|Begin the Beguine - Fred and Eleanor|
If anything this movie made me yearn for a stay at The Waldorf-Astoria (i can dream right?!)
Fred made two films for MGM in 1945 (although Zeigfeld Follies started filming in 1944) both however were released in 1946 with Yolanda and the Thief with Lucille Braemer released first
Despite this being a b&w photo the movie was released in technicolor, if your a fan of Fred its worth watching once
Zeigfeld Follies (1945) had a much delayed release in mid 46, its a combination of some ok revues and some better, the one's Fred featured in were definitely some of the better (although the majority aren't bad)
It was also the first film (and only if you don't count the That's Entertainment movies) where Fred and Gene Kelly danced together, they reprised 'The Babbit and the Bromide' that Fred and his sister Adele first performed in 'Funny Face' (1927, Broadway and West End) the lyrics are edited but the dance number is fabulous and its a shame their only other number together came in 1974
|Fred and Gene - The Babbit and The Bromide|
|As Tramps in the 'Couple of Swells' Number|
|On the Avenue, 5th Avenue|
The Barkleys of Broadway was also Ginger's 2nd and last film for MGM, Fred however carried on (for some of the best musicals of the 1950s)
Three Little Words (1950) starred Fred and Red Skelton as Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby. A losely based biography its still one of the better film biographies that MGM were so fond of making at the time
With Vera Ellen and Arlene Dahl as the female leads, if you can stand seeing Gale Robbins again its well worth seeing (to be fair i quite like the number she sings)
Royal Wedding (or Wedding Bells in the UK) was released in 1950, loosely based on Fred and Adele Astaire's late Broadway/West End career, it starred Fred with Jane Powell (playing his part's sister), Peter Lawford as the English Lord she marries and Sarah Churchill as Fred's love interest. As this was set around the Royal Wedding (between the then Princess Elizabeth and Prince Phillip) the film was retitled for UK release so people wouldn't confuse it as a documentary for the 'real' Royal Wedding
This movie contains the amazing 'Your All the World To Me' where Fred appears to dance on the ceiling, i've heard countless times how this was achieved but I still can't work it out when I watch the movie, it really is awesome to see!!!
It also contains the number with the longest song title ever in a Hollywood movie 'How Could You Believe Me When I Said I Love You, When You Know I've Been A Liar All My Life' its an amusing number, but heck try saying that one in a hurry, makes a great tongue twister ;)
The Belle of New York was the reason Fred retired in 1946, MGM tied him to that if he came out of retirement eventually he'd have to make the film, I'd say its a shame but i really liked it especially the classic 'I Wanna Be A Dancin Man' the original was filmed with Fred wearing his waiter's uniform, MGM decided they needed something more formal so they put him in a suit, when the vaults were opened the original saw the light of day again, they can be viewed in split screen together on 'That's Entertainment Part3' Its a real tribute to how much Fred rehearsed as apart from the outfits the numbers are virtually identical despite being filmed weeks apart. Its all very Guys and Dolls although the film was based on a stage musical which predates Guys and Dolls! I'm not a fan of the film version of Guys and Dolls (although i loved the stage versions i've seen) and enjoyed seeing Vera Ellen with Fred for a second time
|Gonna Leave My Footsteps On The Sands of Time|
|The Englishman and the American|
|As they say 'That's Entertainment'|