Posts Tagged ‘ginger rogers’

Stage Door

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

Stage Door

Tagline – The gaiety… glamour… foolishness and fun of show business… played on the Great White Way.

Starring – Katharine Hepburn (Terry Randall), Ginger Rogers (Jean Maitland), Adolphe Menjou (Anthony Powell), Gail Patrick (Linda Shaw), Andrea Leeds (Kay Hamilton).

Released – October, 1937

Directed By – Gregory La Cava

Produced By – RKO Radio Pictures

Distributed By – RKO Radio Pictures

Description – Terry Randall is a rich society woman with stars in her eyes. She hopes to break into Broadway without taking advantage of family connections.

Terry moves into the Footlights Club, a theatrical rooming house shared by many aspiring Broadway actresses. It is not an easy transition, as Terry’s sophisticated manners and attitude of superiority rub the other girls the wrong way. Especially, her roommate, dancer, Jean Maitland.

Terry’s expensive clothing, and a picture of her “grandfather,” lead Jean to believe that granddad is really Terry’s “sugar-daddy.” This would be a familiar situation as another resident of the rooming house, Linda Shaw, has the help of influential theatrical producer Anthony Powell.

Right now, Terry has only one person supportive of her independent efforts to break into Broadway and that is aging actress Catherine Luther.

After seeing Jean dance, Powell decides to dump Linda and focus his attention on Jean. He arranges for Jean, and her dance partner Annie, to headline a floor show in a nightclub that he partly owns. However, Powell is not so interested in Jean’s success as he is in his success with her.

Another of the girls, the well-liked Kay Hamilton, had great reviews for her work in a play a year earlier. But, she has not worked since. Running out of money, and suffering from disappointment and malnutrition, she is desperately seeking a role in Powell’s new play.

She arranges an audition with him, but he cancels at the last minute. This infuriates Terry who confronts Powell about his rude and inconsiderate treatment of Kay. This act of support for Kay warms the other girls to Terry.

Meanwhile, in the background, Terry’s wealthy father secretly finances Powell’s new play so long as Terry gets the lead role. This is the role that Kay had so hoped for and Powell does give it to Terry as he agreed with her father.

Opening night arrives, but the excitement and anticipation are shattered by tragedy.

NOTABLE: Stage Door received Academy Award nominations for Best Picture, Best Director (Gregory La Cava), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Andrea Leeds), and Best Writing, Screenplay.

Katharine Hepburn had originally been considered to star in the Broadway version of Stage Door, but Broadway producer Leland Hayward gave the role to, his then girlfriend, Margaret Sullavan who he married one month after the Broadway opening. When the play was set to become a motion picture, Sullavan was expecting a baby and unavailable for the role which then went to Katharine Hepburn.

Actress Ann Miller, who played the role of Annie, was only 14 years old at the time. She wanted the role so badly that she presented a fake birth certificate and held her own dancing with the already dancing favorite Ginger Rogers.

Lucille Ball, who had a bit role in the picture, always considered Stage Door to be her big break.

Prior to this picture, Katharine Hepburn’s last four films had failed commercially, but the positive response to her work in Stage Door caused RKO to star her with the popular Cary Grant in the wonderfully enjoyable Bringing Up Baby.

httpv://youtu.be/9CMpe-s2Xp8

Shall We Dance

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

Shall We Dance (1937)

Tagline – Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, and the Fabulous Gershwin’s… What More Could You Ask For?

Starring – Fred Astaire (Peter P. Peters/Petrov), Ginger Rogers (Linda Keene), Edward Everett Horton (Jeffrey Baird), Eric Blore (Cecil Flintridge).

Released – May, 1937

Directed By – Mark Sandrich

Produced By – RKO Radio Pictures

Distributed By – RKO Radio Pictures

Description – Peter P. Peters is an American ballet dancer working for a ballet company owned by Jeffrey Baird and appearing in Paris. Peter dances under the name of Petrov and has always dreamed of blending the style of ballet with modern jazz dancing.

When Peter sees some photographs of famous tap dancer Linda Keene he is immediately smitten and tells Jeffrey that he will meet and marry her. Peter goes to Linda’s apartment and overhears her telling her producer that she wants to quit show business and return to New York.

When they meet, Peter puts on his best Russian accent and introduces himself as Petrov pretending not to be impressed with her. Nothing could be further from the truth. He is so impressed that he tricks Jeffrey into booking passage for him on the same ocean liner she is taking back to New York.

Before boarding the ship, Peter encounters Lady Tarrington, a former ballerina, who is a dogged admirer of his. Too much so. In an effort to keep her at bay, Peter tells her that he and Linda have been secretly married for four years.

During the voyage the rumors start to fly. Lady Tarrington has told anyone who would listen about the supposed marriage and the rumor mill has stretched the untruth to include the fact that Linda may be pregnant. The sensationalism of the rumor has provided the seed for a massive publicity stunt by Linda’s manager Arthur Miller.

News of the stunt outrages Linda and her real Park Avenue fiance Jim Montgomery. Linda assures Jim that she is not married to Peter. Arthur, who does not want Linda to marry Jim because this will cause her to leave show business, arranges for a publicity man to take a picture of a sleeping Peter along side a mannequin of Linda.

The publicized picture creates chaos. A sham marriage will follow a broken engagement, true love will begin to grow, Peter will be seen with another woman adding to the chaos and threaten the new found feelings of love.

As with many an Astaire, Rogers movie, a beautiful dance number will save the day.

NOTABLE: Shall We Dance received an Oscar nomination for Best Music, Original Song (They Can’t Take That Away From Me).

The films story originated with RKO’s desire to capitalize on the success of Rogers and Hart’s 1936 Broadway hit “On Your Toes.”

In one scene Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers dance together on roller skates. The added difficulty of the skates required around 150 takes of the scene.

Shall We Dance was the seventh pairing of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

During production of the film, George Gershwin was already suffering the ill effects of a brain tumor and would die two months after the pictures release.

httpv://youtu.be/VS9rCo-sA9Q

httpv://youtu.be/qTV-zq5Iqjc

Swing Time

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

Swing Time

Timeline – A glorious songburst of gaiety and laughter!

Starring – Fred Astaire (John ‘Lucky’ Garnett), Ginger Rogers (Penny Carroll), Victor Moore (Pop Cardetti), Helen Broderick (Mabel Anderson), Betty Furness (Margaret Watson), Eric Blore (Gordon).

Released – August, 1936

Directed By – George Stevens

Produced By – RKO Radio Pictures

Distributed By – RKO Radio Pictures

Description – Gambler and dancer Lucky Garnett is getting ready to marry Margaret Watson, only his friends have other plans. They feel that this wedding would break up their song and dance act and are determined to keep Lucky in show business.

Lucky’s friends deliberately cause enough delay’s to make him late for the wedding and Margaret’s father, Judge Watson, is furious and calls the affair off. Unaware of the cancellation, Lucky agrees to a bet with his friends who say he will not marry Margaret.

After realizing that he has been tricked, Lucky speaks with Margaret’s father who now says that in order for Lucky to marry his daughter he must come up with $25,000 to prove that he is sincere. While Lucky has a plan to dance in New York City and earn the money, he now has no money for the train tickets as he had to pay off the bet with his friends.

Lucky and his friend, Pop Cardetti, hitch a ride on a freight train and arrive in New York broke. Down to his last “lucky quarter,” Lucky asks a woman on the street for change. She is Penny Carroll a dance instructor who gives lucky the change. Pop, sad that Lucky has had to give up his lucky quarter, removes it from Penny’s purse after she drops it. Realizing the quarter is gone, Penny believes Lucky has taken it.

Lucky and Pop want to apologize for their actions and follow Penny to work. She is not interested in any apology and Lucky realizes that the only way he will be able to speak with her is to take a dance lesson. She refuses to teach him and is overheard by her boss who fires her.

Having made things worse, Lucky forces a dance with Penny in front of her boss just to show him how much he has learned from her. As you can imagine, her boss is impressed. He gives Penny her job back and arranges an audition for the dancing duo.

Without a tuxedo for the audition, Lucky tries to get one off a drunk man. Not only does he not get the tux, but he loses his own clothes. The audition is missed and Penny is mad at Lucky again, this time even more so.

Lucky softens Penny a bit when he arranges another audition, but again there is a problem. The clubs band leader, Ricardo Romero, has left to work at the Club Raymond Casino to pay off a debt. Here’s where the gambler side of Lucky comes in handy. He wins enough at the casino to get Ricky back so they can audition.

Lucky has also almost won the $25,000 he needs to marry Margaret when he decides to stop gambling  He is just beginning to realize that he is falling for Penny when Ricky also declares his feelings for her.

Lucky has told Penny nothing about Margaret and has finally broken the ice with Penny as she is now becoming attracted to him. That is until Pop lets it slip about Lucky and Margaret and Margaret shows up in town looking for Lucky. Furious again at Lucky, Penny agrees to marry Ricky.

When Margaret finds Lucky she tells him that she has fallen in love with someone else and they can’t marry. It looks as though Lucky is out of luck with both women. Well, maybe not just yet.

NOTABLE: Swing Time won the Academy Award for Best Music, Original Song (The Way You Look Tonight), and was also nominated for Best Dance Direction.

In 2004, Swing Time was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

The song and dance routine “Never Gonna Dance” required 47 takes, all in the same day, and left Ginger Rogers with bruised and bloody feet.

Ginger Rogers has said that of all her films with Fred Astaire this was her favorite.

In 2007, the American Film Institute ranked Swing Time #90 of it’s Greatest Movies of All Time list.

Personal Note: As a lover of all things Astaire and Rogers, Swing Time is one of my favorites. While the plot may be a little thin, the music and dance numbers are thoroughly entertaining with four dance routines considered classic.

The Oscar winning “The Way You Look Tonight” is performed twice. Once with Astaire seated at a piano as Rogers is washing her hair, the second time on the dance floor where Ginger Rogers facial expressions are priceless.

httpv://youtu.be/uNOMw2W-o8o

httpv://youtu.be/mxPgplMujzQ

 

Follow The Fleet

Monday, October 10th, 2011

Follow the Fleet

Tagline – In the Super-Dreadnought of Musical Shows

Starring – Fred Astaire (Bake Baker), Ginger Rogers (Sherry Martin), Randolph Scott (Bilge Smith), Harriet Hilliard (Connie Martin).

Released – February, 1936

Directed By – Mark Sandrich

Produced By – RKO Radio Pictures

Distributed By – RKO Radio Pictures

Description – Bake Baker and Sherry Martin were once dance partners and romantically involved. But, the duo has been separated for some time, with Bake now in the Navy and Sherry working at the Paradise, a San Francisco ballroom, as a dance hostess.

When Bake’s ship puts into San Francisco he, along with his buddy Bilge Smith, pay a visit to the Paradise Club. During the visit, Bilge initially takes a liking to Connie Martin, but backs off after hearing Connie’s dreams of getting married.

This meeting causes Bake to realize that Connie’s sister Sherry is working at the club. Bake finds Sherry and tries to rekindle their romance. He tells her that she can do much better than work at the Paradise and could do so with him as her manager. Bake goes so far as to tell the manager of the club the same thing. Bad idea as Sherry is fired.

Connie is still interested in Bilge and tries another approach to gain his attention. She borrows a sexy gown from sister Sherry, takes her glasses off, and flirts with Bilge as though she were a stranger. Bilge doesn’t recognize Connie and takes the bait. Although, when the subject of marriage comes up again, Bilge heads for the door.

Bake and Bilge are now back on board their ship which will not return to port for months. While they are gone, Sherry and Connie work with family friend Captain Hickey on the restoration of their deceased fathers ship.

The boys return to San Francisco with Bake again trying to get on Sherry’s good side. And again it doesn’t work as his actions lead to Sherry losing another job. Confusion, mistaken identities, misunderstandings, a fight, and a phony love scene will follow before Cupid’s arrow will finally hit the target for all involved.

NOTABLE: Follow the Fleet was the fifth dancing partner film for Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

Betty Grable and Lucille Ball both appear in small supporting roles in the film.

This motion picture was the film debut for actress Harriet Hilliard. Naturally a blonde, Hilliard wore a brunette wig so as not to distract from blonde Ginger Rogers.

httpv://youtu.be/y1FjlVsZ-mk

 

A Brief Film History Timeline – The 1930’s

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

Part 2 – The 1930’s 

This is the second of a four-part film history timeline highlighting some selective moments from the 1920’s through the 1950’s.

The 1930’s film decade presented us with the expansion of “talking pictures,” the development of film genre’s, the growth of the major film studios, and the beginning of what is known as “The Golden Age of Hollywood.

Color film production became the rage, new stars were created, and some of the old stars faded from the industry.

1930 – The Immortal Garbo Talks – Greta Garbo, having been one of the major silent screen stars, successfully made the transition to “talking pictures.”

MGM marketed the popular actress in her first speaking role with the catchphrase “Garbo Talks.” The film was Anna Christie and Garbo received an Academy Award nomination for her role and became the Queen of MGM.

1931 – “M” Thrills Audiences – Director Fritz Lang’s first sound film “M,” a suspense thriller starring Peter Lorre, sent chills down the spines of movie goers.

Reportedly based on the case of a real-life serial killer, “M” would go on to become a classic and the film Lang considered to be his finest work.

Bela Lugosi Immortalizes “Dracula” – Famed horror director Tod Browning brings Bram Stoker’s Dracula to life on the screen. The death of actor Lon Chaney along with the financial troubles faced by Universal Studio opened the door for Bela Lugosi to assume the title role.

Lugosi had experience with the role on Broadway and would work cheap. The resulting production is a timeless horror classic and the role in which Bela Lugosi would always be identified.

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