The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle (1939) Fred and Ginger Blogathon

1939 is of course known to all of us as The Golden Year because of all of the now true classic films released during the year. One of those movies that came out during The Golden Year was the final RKO pairing of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers: The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle– a portrayal of the real life husband and wife dance team that rose to fame in the pre WWI era- and since its debut it has fallen from public’s attention.

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Vernon & Irene VS Fred & Ginger

When one views Vernon and Irene Castle, I don’t believe it’s fair to say it’s a musical- more so, I think of it as a biopic with a few straight dance numbers (and one original song, Only when You’re in my Arms, sung by Fred)- none of those typical showy numbers and every dance is a careful recreation of a real dance style. In other words, there is nothing “original” about the choreography present in this film.

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Vernon and Irene- their first meeting

However, just because this isn’t a Fred & Ginger sing and dance show, I do believe this film is important because it is based off real people– and is a rare movie from its time to have an unhappy ending. The picture on a whole is not bad- and if you want to see Fred and Ginger play straight romance and more dramatic acting- this is the opportunity to see that. For Fred especially, this was a turn into a more serious part and it reminded the public Ginger had a true range of ability and foreshadows a lot of her later work.

How accurate it actually is to the real Vernon and Irene Castle- well, changes were made. For one, Vernon was British; secondly their loyal servant Walter (who was played by Walter Brennan) was black; and thirdly, Irene was dark haired. While Ginger recalls in her autobiography she clashed with Irene Castle on the making of the picture (Irene was a consultant and the movie itself was based on her memoirs), it was noted that according to Irene, Fred did a wonderful job of capturing the real spirit and emotional embodiment of Vernon.

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      The famous “Last Dance” For Vernon and Irene….

                                                 …but not quite for Fred and Ginger

Today, this film does rank as an odd one in the Fred -Ginger bunch- and if you’re not into biopics- especially old fashioned ones where the stories were given glamour treatment- then you’re not going to like this film. For me to watch it, I view it differently than I would a musical and I tend to focus on the love story and also the historical aspect. Even if you don’t feel the spirit of the Castles, you definitely feel the chemistry of Fred and Ginger- and that alone makes it watchable. (And if you really can’t latch onto anything- there is a cute little dog involved in the early half of the film)

Needless to say, I do declare, that despite its flaws, The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle is a biopic product of its time, a memorable tribute to the real Castles, a notable 1939 production, and of course, a different, yet interesting final RKO sendoff for the most famous dance partnership of all time.

FRED AND GINGER BLOGATHON Hosted by Love Letters to Old Hollywood and IN the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood

5 of My All Time Favorite Movie Musicals

Greetings All!! I’m back- and I’ve missed this very much! Lately, I’ve just been in a bit of a rut– and right now I’m in the midst of (hopefully) transitioning out of a quarter life crisis- I’ve only now been seeing the light in the darkness after 3 years, as I’ve finally found a real career path that I’m extremely interested in pursuing and learning more about (To those who have never heard of or are unfamiliar with what a quarter life crisis is, please know it’s real) 

To help me continue my way out of it, I decided to do a post about 5 of my all time favorite Movie Musicals! I’ll admit straight up I’m not the biggest fan- but the TCM Class is helping me find more that I’d like to watch. (I am very excited to watch Gypsy on June 26!)

So without further skadoo, I present to you in chronological order

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My All Time 5 favorite Movie Musicals!

Swing Time (1936)

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Everyone has a favorite Fred and Ginger- and I agree with Ms. Rogers on her choice by saying Swing Time is the best! The songs, the dances, and many iconic moments from jumping over the fence, to dancing up the staircase, to that insanely cute moment with Fred and Ginger in the dressing room!

Wizard of Oz (1939)

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This has to be on my list- its one of my favorite movies of all time- end of story! I recently saw this on the big screen; it was emotional to watch Judy sing (Over The Rainbow is a whole other experience on the big screen) and it was overall dazzling to watch!

Meet Me In St Louis (1944)

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Another Judy film! This one is not just for Christmas- and oddly it was not a part of my childhood (looking back I feel cheated!) The Trolley song can get stuck in my head of days on end!!

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)

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This is the movie that got me into Loving Marilyn (and Jane for that matter!) !! It’s just stylistic and every song makes you want to sing along. I want to be as fabulously- flawless as Dorothy Shaw during the Ain’t there Anyone Here for Love number and as outstandingly brilliant as Lorelei Lee in the Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend performance. LIFE GOALS!!

The Little Mermaid (1989)

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This is my favorite Disney Movie (don’t get me started- can do a seperate post just on that!). For a long time I wanted to be a mermaid and when I was younger had a Little Mermaid themed bedroom. My inner nerd came out when my family and I went to Disney World in 2016 and I rode Ariel’s Undersea Adventure ride for the first time. I rode with my Dad- and I thank him for letting me be a 7 year old while we were on that ride.

Honorable Mentions

High Society (1956) It’s Bing, Grace and Frank with director Charles Walters! Easy choice!

Funny Face (1957)– Audrey (in Givenchy) and Fred in Paree!! A real “Fashion” musical!

Mary Poppins (1964)- Julie Andrews is amazing! Don’t need to say anything else!

Rent (2005) – I’m thrilled I was born the same year as the Broadway Musical! The film probably isn’t as good as the stage show- BUT THE MUSIC! (Adam Pascal: you are my Broadway crush!) 

Enchanted (2007)- Despite being made in the 21st century this feels like vintage Disney! The music, the heart, and story!!

 

ANNNNDD…. There you have it! What are some of your favorite musicals and do you have any suggestions of some musicals coming up on TCM for me to catch?!