Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Royal Wedding / The Belle of New York|
Actors: Fred Astaire, Vera-Ellen, Jane Powell
Genres: Comedy, Musicals & Performing Arts
No Description Available. Genre: Musicals Rating: NR Release Date: 24-JUL-2007 Media Type: DVD
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Gord Wilson | Bellingham, WA USA | 07/02/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Leonard Maltin gives three stars to Royal Wedding, but only two and one half to The Belle of New York, which he calls "uninspired". Royal Wedding exists in more than forty versions on DVD, including budget versions and in sets. My reason for choosing this new edition is that first, it's in print, while many of the other aren't, and second this is a film that deserves to be seen in a quality version without the skips, stops, color bleeds and edits on some of the budget releases.
After the lackluster opening number, I was ready to turn off Royal Wedding, but as if rising to the challenge, it quickly picked up steam, first with the incredible choreography of Astaire in the gym, next with Powell's wonderful singing, and finally with the excellent Lerner/ Lane musical numbers. Like all Hollywood musical in a musicals, there are long, lavish showstopping stretches of singing and dancing. This film, however, also dazzles with its vivid British sets and lavish scenery and a perfect cast topped by Peter Lawford's effortless portrayl of Powell's flame and husband-to-be, a debonaire English Lord. The unforgettable number is Astaire dancing on the walls and ceiling. Dazzling not merely for technical wizardry (it's probably a rotating room), but for the dynamic performance done, the more amazingly, on a nearly propless stage. I think this piece may also be in one of the That's Entertainment films. If The Belle of New York doesn't quite hit that high mark, it nevertheless provides a chance to see more of Astaire in action, and another little known classic film."
Astaire at his best, and the movies aren't bad, either
C. O. DeRiemer | San Antonio, Texas, USA | 07/24/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This disc is welcome news for Astaire fans. It resurrects two films which which have many pleasant moments and contain three outstanding musical numbers. Belle of New York, the movie which spends more time with Astaire dancing than any of his other movies, has been long unavailable except for an out-of-print VHS tape. Royal Wedding has been all too available in uniformly execrable public domain releases.
BELLE OF NEW YORK:
This was one of Astaire's few critical and box office losers. The flaws, in hindsight, are obvious. The New York playboy Astaire plays is charming but an emotional light-weight. He finds love eventually and he never loses his charm. Still, he's a shallow guy. The Salvation Army-type lass he falls in love with is played by Vera-Ellen, who was always perky and a supremely proficient dancer. Still, there's something chilly, to my mind, about her dancing. She can do any step Astaire does, but does it with little spontaneity. The smile on her face while she dances never changes. The comedy relief doesn't seem very amusing. The story serves merely as a quick bridge between extended musical numbers. I don't mind this at all, but it does make the story seem like an afterthought.
But the good things are fine. The 1880's Currier and Ives look is warm and charming. The Harry Warren and Johnny Mercer songs are easy to listen to. Most of all, there is Astaire and his dancing. The film features, I think I got this right, eight musical sequences, most of them major productions. Astaire is in all but one. The highlights for me are:
--"Baby Doll," a sweet. wooing number sung by Astaire to Vera-Ellen and then danced in a relaxed and easy-going style by the two.
Baby Doll, you beautiful Baby Doll,
Let's go home and tell your mother
That you found a baby brother.
I'm takin' you off the shelf
And showin' you off myself;
Can't you see it now?
I'm takin' you walkin'
Holding your parasol;
Ah, honey, there's no use talkin'
You're a beautiful Baby Doll.
--"Seeing's Believing" has Astaire singing and dancing around and on the Washington Square Arch. The idea is that love has him floating. The routine uses camera tricks and false backgrounds to create the illusion he's on the top of the arch teetering and tapping. Not for viewers who suffer acrophobia, but this extended Astaire routine is a lot of fun.
--"I Wanna Be a Dancin' Man," is a classic. It's just Astaire, a stage and some sand on the floor. Everything works in this number, including the Warren-Mercer song.
I wanna be a dancin' man while I can,
Gonna leave my footsteps on the sands of time,
If I never leave a dime.
Never be a millionaire, I don't care,
I'll be rich as old King Midas might have been,
Least until the tide comes in.
The Belle of New York is a proficient movie, and you don't have to spend much time waiting for the next dance number to arrive.
Fred Astaire and Jane Powell play the Broadway headliners Tom and Ellen Bowen. They are brother and sister; he's a workaholic, always wanting to rehearse; she's a vivacious flirt. They wind up in London at the height of the excitement over the wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip, and each finds true love. The story-line might be slight but it's not treated too seriously. Most importantly, it gives us a series of clever musical numbers, including a classic Astaire dance and a classic love song sung by Powell. Among the highlights:
--"Sunday Jumps." On the ship to Britain Astaire rehearses in the gym. Astaire was so good he could make a clothes rack look like a talented dancer. And he does. He uses the clothes rack, pull weights, a punching bag, parallel bars and weight pins. His work with the clothes rack is complicated, precise and as smooth as cream.
--"How Could You Believe Me When I Said I Love You When You Know I've Been a Liar All My Life" is a raucous, low-comedy number sung and danced by Astaire and Powell.
--"Too Late Now." In my view, this is one of the best love songs to have been written for a movie. Lerner's lyrics are very good, but it's Lane's melody that gives it feeling and distinction.
Too late now to forget your smile,
The way we cling when we dance awhile.
Too late now to forget and go on to someone new.
Too late now to forget your voice,
The way one word makes my heart rejoice.
Too late now to imagine myself away from you.
All the things we've done together
I relive when we're apart.
All the tender fun together,
Stays on in my heart.
How could I ever close the door
And be the same as I was before.
Darling, no, no, I can't anymore.
It's too late now.
--"You're All the World to Me." This is an immensely clever tour de force by Astaire, danced to an outstanding rhythm melody by Lane. Astaire dances on the walls and ceiling as well as the floor of his hotel suite. How he and director Stanley Donen pulled this off mystified people for years until it was learned the set for the entire room and the camera were fixed to a giant, slowly turning wheel. It's a classic number.
Royal Wedding works as well as it does because it's genuinely cheerful, it has Astaire and because Burton Lane, with Lerner writing the words, came up with some stylish music.
On balance, this DVD is a great disc for Astaire fans.
Five Stars for Royal Wedding; One Star for Belle of New York
Scaramouche | 08/04/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Royal Wedding" is among the top five or so of the great Technicolor musicals of the late 1940s and 1950s. For fans of the genre, it is not to be missed, and finally a decent-looking studio release is available. "The Belle of New York", on the other hand, is a different story.
How do these misfires happen? You have the number-one musical-producing studio and number-one musical star of all time, a worthy partner, a supporting cast of terrific character actors, a pair of great songwriters, top pros writing and directing, and yet the result of their collaboration is this lifeless waste of an hour and a half. "The Belle of New York" is Astaire's second-to-worst movie, better only than the dreadful "Yolanda and the Thief". The plot is uninteresting, and Fred's character is perhaps, this time, just a bit too much of a wastrel to be sympathetic. The special effect of the couple floating and dancing in the air is too silly to watch without a little embarrassment, and the comedy gags don't work. One protracted dance number bringing to life the paintings of Courier and Ives (the Thomas Kinkades of the 19th century) goes on so long you almost forget what the movie was about. "Belle" is a genuine flop, without one memorable musical number, and no redeeming attribute other than Vera-Ellen's legs, which are finally shown off near the end.
Buy this DVD package. You'll only watch "Belle" once, but you'll watch "Royal Wedding" over and over."
A Good Version
S. Routt | 05/15/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This version of "Royal Wedding" and "The Belle of New York" has a good quality of picture and sound and is worth buying. Both movies are enjoyable, but "Royal Wedding" is by far a better made film. You will watch "Royal Wedding" more than the other one. I would recommend this version.