Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! To celebrate today’s post is for Second Sight Cinema’s A Kiss is Just a Kiss Blogathon!
Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire are of of the most famous on screen couples in all of history. You could even consider them to be one of the most famous dance duos in all of history.
However, when it came to on screen kisses they were famous for not having any. By the time they had made their 6th film Swing Time (1936) the grand total of kisses between the two was a round zero. True, one could argue there was a kiss in their fourth film Top Hat (1935) but according to Ginger it was more of a “quick peck” and not a real kiss. When asked why there was never a kiss between them, Ginger always blamed it on the director, “Ask March Sandrich or Bill Seiter”, she’d say. In reality, it was actually Fred, and his wife Phyllis, who insisted on no screen kisses, as he always considered his dancing to be the romance and love between his and Ginger’s characters. With Swing Time all that was about to change- sort of- with the famous “Door” kiss.
The scene starts off with Ginger’s character Penny walking down to Lucky’s (Fred) dressing room with the intent on planting one on him. Nervously knocking on the door Lucky tells her to come in, and after failing twice to kiss him- she chickens out!
Using her dress (one of my favorite dresses in the history of cinema!!!) as an excuse, Penny awkwardly asks Lucky what he thinks of it. After responding “nice” to everything Penny asks him about, (including her hair, shoes, and cape) Lucky goes in for it- only to be cut off by the door opening! However- by the time the camera cuts back to Fred and Ginger, Fred has lipstick all over his lips! Certianly they had kissed, right?! Well not exactly- according to Miss Rogers, Fred had his kiss “painted” on by the makeup crew. (click here to watch this awesome scene)
For Fred and Ginger fans however it seemed to do the trick- and it left them wanting even more, which they got in the duo’s 8th film Carefree (1938)
Carefree by all accounts is the least “musical” Fred and Ginger picture- it only has 4 songs and Ginger really steals the spotlight with her character’s crazy antics. It also is famous for the first real lip to lip kiss of Fred and Ginger in the number “I Used to Be Colorblind”.
Seen in a dream like setting, “I used to be Colorblind” has a unique backstory. For one it was originally supposed to be shot in color; two, it was slowed down and filmed in slow motion to add to its dream like nature; and three it finally contained the kiss audiences had been waiting 8 pictures and five years to see. According to Ginger in her autobiography, the actual shooting of the kiss was just another “peck” but when played back the slow motion made it made it seem as if it were a full fledged kiss. She also stated that Phyllis Astaire was not on set at the time of shooting. Click here to watch!
In their final two films The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle (1939) and The Barkleys of Broadway (1949), there some kisses, with the former being noted for the famous “kiss in the dark” . However, in the end, Fred and Ginger created movie magic- if not with their kisses most certainly for their dances.
Rogers, G. (1991). Ginger: My story. New York, NY: HarperCollins.