Royal Wedding

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For the ceremony, see Royal wedding.
Royal Wedding
Fred Astaire and Jane Powell in Royal Wedding.jpg
Astaire and Powell in Royal Wedding
Directed by Stanley Donen
Produced by Arthur Freed
Screenplay by Alan Jay Lerner
Story by Alan Jay Lerner
Starring Fred Astaire
Jane Powell
Sarah Churchill
Peter Lawford
Music by Burton Lane
Uncredited:
Albert Sendrey
Cinematography Robert Planck
Edited by Albert Akst
Production
  company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Distributed by Loew's Inc.[1]
Release date(s)
  • March 8, 1951 (1951-03-08)
Running time 93 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $1,661,000[2]
Box office $3,902,000[2]

Royal Wedding is a 1951 MGM musical comedy film starring Fred Astaire and Jane Powell, with music by Burton Lane and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner. The film was directed by Stanley Donen; it was his second film and the first he directed on his own. It was released as Wedding Bells in the United Kingdom.[3]

The story is set in London in 1947 at the time of the wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Philip Mountbatten, Duke of Edinburgh. Astaire and Powell are siblings in a song and dance duo, echoing the real-life theatrical relationship of Fred and Adele Astaire.

Royal Wedding is one of several MGM musicals that lapsed into public domain on their 29th anniversary due to failure to renew the copyright registration.[4]

Plot[edit]

The story sees brother and sister Tom and Ellen Bowen as stars of a show Every Night at Seven, a Broadway success. They are persuaded to take the show to London, capitalizing on an imminent royal wedding.

On the ship, Ellen meets and quickly falls in love with the impoverished but well-connected Lord John Brindale. Whilst casting the show in London, Tom falls in love with a newly engaged dancer, Anne Ashmond. Tom assists Anne to reconcile her estranged parents and also asks his agent to locate Anne's supposed fiancé in Chicago – only to discover that he's married.

Carried away by the emotion of the wedding, the two couples decide that they will also be married that day.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Stanley Donen and Jane Powell were not part of the film's original crew and cast; former dancer Charles Walters was the film's original director, with June Allyson as Astaire's co-star.[1] Judy Garland was then signed as Ellen, over the objection of Walters who had spent a "year-and-a-half nurturing her through her previous film, Summer Stock"; instead of listening to Walters' objection, Arthur Freed brought in Donen as director; Garland, who during rehearsal worked only half-days, starting calling in sick as principal photography was to begin. That prompted Freed to replace her, which in turn caused MGM to cancel her contract with the studio, one that had lasted 14 years.[1]

Principal photography occurred in 1950, from July 6-August 24; retakes took place in mid-October.[1]

The scene featuring the song "You're All the World to Me" was filmed by building a set inside a revolving barrel and mounting the camera and its operator to an ironing board which could be rotated along with the room.[1]

Notable songs and dance routines[edit]

  • "Ev'ry Night At Seven": Astaire pretends to be a bored king alongside a lively Powell.
Astaire in "Sunday Jumps"
  • "Sunday Jumps": Astaire credits the idea for this solo to his long-time choreographic collaborator Hermes Pan. In it, Astaire parodies himself by dancing with a hatstand and appears to parody his rival and friend Gene Kelly by inserting a mock bodybuilding episode during which he kicks aside some Indian clubs in a reference to Kelly's routine with The Nicholas Brothers in The Pirate.[citation needed] The fame of the dance rests on Astaire's ability to animate the inanimate. The solo takes place in a ship's gym, where Astaire is waiting to rehearse with his partner Powell, who doesn't turn up, echoing Adele Astaire's attitude toward her brother's obsessive rehearsal habits to which the lyrics (unused and unpublished) also made reference.[citation needed] In 1997, Astaire's widow Robyn authorized Dirt Devil to use a digitally altered version of the scene where Astaire dances with a hatstand in a commercial; Astaire's daughter Ava objected publicly to the commercial, implying they had "tarnish[ed] his image" and saying it was "the antithesis of everything my lovely, gentle father represented"[5]
  • "Open Your Eyes": This waltz is sung by Powell at the beginning of a romantic routine danced by Powell and Astaire in front of an audience in the ballroom of a transatlantic liner. Soon, a storm rocks the ship and the duet is transformed into a comic routine with the dancers sliding about to the ship's motions. This number is based on a real-life incident which happened to Fred and Adele Astaire as they traveled by ship to London in 1923.[citation needed]
  • "The Happiest Days of My Life": Powell's character sings this ballad to Lawford's, with Astaire sitting at the piano.
  • "How Could You Believe Me When I Said I Love You When You Know I've Been a Liar All My Life" has what is considered the longest title of any song in MGM musical history. For the first time in his career,[6] Astaire casts aside all pretension to elegance and indulges in a comic song and dance vaudeville-style with Powell. The routine recalls the "A Couple Of Swells" number with Judy Garland in Easter Parade.[citation needed] Here, for the second time in the film, he seems to parody Gene Kelly by wearing the latter's trademark straw boater and employing the stomps and splayed strides that originated with George M. Cohan and were much favored in Kelly's choreography.[citation needed]
  • "Too Late Now": Powell sings her third ballad, this time an open declaration of love, to Lawford.
Astaire in "You're All the World to Me"
  • "You're All the World to Me": In one of his best-known solos, Astaire dances on the walls and ceilings of his room because he has fallen in love with a beautiful woman who also loves to dance. The idea occurred to Astaire years before and was first mentioned by him in the MGM publicity publication Lion's Roar in 1945.[citation needed]
  • "I Left My Hat in Haiti": This number, essentially the work of Nick Castle,[citation needed] involves Powell, Astaire, and chorus in a song and dance routine with a Latin theme.

Reception[edit]

According to MGM records, the film earned $2,548,000 in the US and Canada and $1,354,000 elsewhere, resulting in a profit to the studio of $584,000.[2]

Upon its release, Bosley Crowther' said it had "a lively lot of dancing and some pleasantly handled songs"; according to Crowther, "Mr. Astaire has fared better in his lifetime-and he has also fared much worse."[7]

"Too Late Now" was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song at the 24th Academy Awards, losing the award to "In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening" by Hoagy Carmichael and Johnny Mercer, that had been featured in Here Comes the Groom.

Home video and other formats[edit]

In 2007, Warner Home Video released Royal Wedding in a DVD set as part of its "Classic Musicals From The Dream Factory" series, along with "three fine-but-unexceptional films directed by Norman Taurog" and two other films: The Belle of New York and The Pirate.[8]

The film was later featured in an episode of Cinema Insomnia.[9] It is also distributed through Corinth Films.[10]

The songs listed above were published by MGM on an early 10 inch long play record recorded at 33 1/3 RPM (MGM E-543).

The song "Sunday Jumps" was referenced by Mel Gibson in What Women Want and by David Byrne in the live film of his band, Talking Heads. "Sunday Jumps" was also parodied by Kermit the Frog in The Great Muppet Caper.[citation needed]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Miller, Frank. "Royal Wedding". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 2013-02-02. 
  2. ^ a b c The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study .
  3. ^ "Royal Wedding". 1951. 
  4. ^ Pierce, David (June 2007). "Forgotten Faces: Why Some of Our Cinema Heritage Is Part of the Public Domain". Film History: An International Journal 19 (2): 125–43. doi:10.2979/FIL.2007.19.2.125. ISSN 0892-2160. OCLC 15122313. Retrieved 2012-01-05. 
  5. ^ Archerd, Army (February 25, 1997). "Astaire won't deal with the Devil". Variety. Retrieved 2012-11-11. 
  6. ^ Mueller 1985, p. 327.
  7. ^ Crowther, Bosley (March 9, 1951). "Fred Astaire and Jane Powell Seen in 'Royal Wedding' at Radio City Music Hall". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-11-11. 
  8. ^ Murray, Noel (August 1, 2007). "Classic Musicals From The Dream Factory — DVD —". Home Video Review. The A.V. Club. Retrieved 2012-11-11. 
  9. ^ "Cinema Insomnia, with your Horror Host, Mister Lobo! - SHOW INFORMATION". Retrieved 2010-11-20. [dead link]
  10. ^ "The Royal Wedding". Retrieved 2012-11-11. 

References[edit]

External links[edit]