Royal Wedding

1951, Movie, NR, 93 mins

Review

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On the eve of the royal wedding of then-Princess Elizabeth and Philip Mountbatten, an American brother and sister vaudeville act, Ellen (Jane Powell) and Tom Bowen (Fred Astaire), ventures to London to perform. There Tom falls in love with Anne Ashmond (Sarah Churchill, daughter of Sir Winston Churchill, making her only US film appearance) a music hall dancer, while Ellen becomes involved with an English lord (Peter Lawford). The picture ends with couples married, after the usual misunderstandings and rocky romantic plot twists. That's about it for the story, but what shines here are the great songs by Alan Jay Lerner and Burton Lane (among them the Oscar-nominated "Too Late Now"), the singing, and the dancing, including two of the most spectacular Astaire routines ever devised. In the first, he dances with a hat rack that nearly comes alive as his partner; in the second and most celebrated, the legendary hoofer seems to be dancing on the walls and ceiling of a room--accomplished by building the room so it could be rotated at the same speed as the camera, with the camera operator strapped in and shooting upside down. Although Nick Castle is listed as choreographer, it seems likely that it was Astaire's genius that inspired these dazzling routines. When all is said and done, Stanley Donen's first solo directorial assignment, after his work with Gene Kelly, is a lovely bit of frou-frou. leave a comment

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