The last Astaire/Rogers movie, about a show-biz team divided by career ambitions, is also the duo's only color film. Highlights: Fred's Shoes with Wings On and the pair's They Can't Take That Away from Me.DVD Features: — Fe... more »aturette:Reunited at MGM: Astaire and Rogers Together
Other:Vintage Short Annie Was a Wonderm and Classic Droopy Cartoon Wags to Riches« less
"It's weird the things that get stuck in your memory. I never thought of this as an inferior film just because the formula separates itself from the RKO depression-era 30's (the film was made in 1949), though I seem to be hearing this a lot from critics. In fact, when I first saw the dance of 'They Can't Take That Away from Me,' I actually thought it was a performance from a TV special, not a movie. The performance is an exhibit, not a love scene. There's something almost- I don't know- *cold* about the way they move on that bare, heavily draped, stage. It's also the first and only adagio they perform in color- which, in itself has a sense of an era ending. Nevertheless, they have the same emotional connection to each other, and at the ages of 38 and 50 respectively, they still carry off the grace and elegance. When they saunter off the stage, an excited audience breaks into applause- like they've been watching an act from THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW. It's extrordinary that ten years after Rogers remade herself doing straight award-winning drama and Astaire remade himself as a solo performer and a man who could dance with just about anyone, they could settle back into one more film and not have one strain of foot or hair out of place. MGM formula and Oscar Levant aside, it's a very nice way to end a professional marriage."
Warners day off
Michael Thomas | Australia | 05/22/2006
(1 out of 5 stars)
"I am a huge fan of the old MGM musicals and have been more that happy with the restoration quality on every DVD transfer issued by Warners in the MGM library. The release of the "Dream Factory" collection is a fine example. These films could have been photographed yesterday ("Summer Stock" is a pure delight to watch in terms of picture quality). "Barkleys of B'way" unfortnately does not live of to the exceptional quality acheived on other films of this genre.
The DVD picture quality is very poor and dull and the sound is very muted. I was so dissappointed in this treatment. The DVD appears to have simply transfered the Video to DVD. No restoration to the picture is at all apparent. Even the trailer looks better than the movie.
The extras are fine and I can't complain here but hey Warners, what were you thinking when you tackled this gem. Someone must have been taking a sickie!
Sorry Fred and Ginger."
Fred and Ginger in Technicolor (DVD Review)
N. Lim | Santa Clara, CA USA | 08/23/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"After a ten-year absence, Fred and Ginger (F&G) are dancing as a pair one last time in their only Technicolor movie. It's not your typical F&G movie. Their acting has matured so much so that you forget that they dance, too. It has a little more drama and a little less comedy. Instead of boy meeting and chasing girl, their characters are already married, which provides a different relationship on screen. Also, Ezra Miller (Oscar Levant) is superb in his piano playing.
The featurette "Reunited at MGM: Astaire and Rogers Together Again" explains how F&G pair up for this film by accident, their continuous chemistry, and Fred's perfection. It includes interviews with Ava Astaire McKenzie (daughter), archivists, and biographers with a mix of F&G photographs and film clips. Broadway choreographers and performers also appreciate how F&G have inspired them. (Run time 13:53)
The vintage short "Annie Was a Wonder" is a narrated docudrama about the Scandinavian working immigrant girl. It's a heart-warming, almost tear-jerker of a time gone by. (1938, B&W, Run time 10:51)
The MGM 1949 cartoon "Wags to Riches" stars Droopy the dog, who inherits his owner's estate but has to contend with a rival dog trying to get rid of him. (Run time 7:11)
Theatrical Trailer (Run time 2:30)"
Why We Loved Them
Stephanie DePue | Carolina Beach, NC USA | 12/15/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
""The Barkleys of Broadway," a musical comedy/romance, (postwar, 1949) was, unexpectedly, the tenth and last film Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers made together. It finds Astaire 50 years old, and Rogers, 38, and was made, after a ten-year hiatus, during which they each did their own things, and Rogers won an Oscar for her serious work in "Kitty Foyle." Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios made it, rather than the pair's original studio, Radio Pictures(later RKO). Famed MGM producer Arthur Freed, working in his prestigious music unit, gave it a no-expense spared gloss; it's the dancing couple's first and only picture together in color, full, saturated Technicolor, no less.
The somewhat slow, stagebound script was by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, and it is witty: at one point, Astaire says, "I've been sneezing and coughing like a Model T." As is widely known, Astaire, having stepped successfully into the dancing shoes that were meant for Gene Kelly in "Easter Parade," and worked happily with Judy Garland, was expected to reteam with Garland here. But Garland had been fired, she was ill, although she was apparently well enough to show up on the set, without invitation, and harass Rogers, who had been invited to take her part. Most sources say that Comden and Green therefore had to rewrite the part for Rogers. Most sources also point out that the scriptwriters somewhat followed real life, in that Astaire wanted to be the best song and dance man ever, whereas Rogers yearned for the respect given a serious actress, see "Kitty Foyle." However, let's remember that Garland also yearned for the respect given a serious actress, and eventually made "Judgment at Nuremberg," and "A Star Is Born." So whose life were the scriptwriters really thinking about, from the beginning, anyway?
At any rate, this movie differs from the stars' previous work in that they start out already married, (they are quite middle-aged by now) and bickering, rather than courting, and they are portrayed as being already at the height of their careers, enjoying a Broadway hit. They are Josh and Dinah Barkley in this one, and Rogers is tired of being made to feel that Astaire has been her Svengali; she wants a hit of her own, preferably a serious one. The script also differs from their other work in that it provides them with no individual foils. Instead we have the talented piano player and acerbic wit Oscar Levant as their mutual best friend, and Billie Burke in her usual scattered society hostess role. Charles Waters directed; Cedric Gibbons art directed, giving the film its lively look.
Nobody knows quite what to make of Rogers' way over the top, out of the blue, reading of "La Marseillaise." My only theory is that perhaps it was meant as a homage to the then fairly recent wartime "Casablanca." If you can stop crying long enough during that film's "Marseillaise" scene, you'll notice that it, too, is a bit overwrought. However....
The film's original music was composed by the well-known Harry Warren, with lyrics by George Gershwin,who had died, shockingly young, and most agree the music's nice, but not up to the dancers' earlier great material. However, the pair get a spirited, entertaining, rhythmic workout to "Bouncing The Blues." Their Scottish "Highland Fling" number is enjoyable. "Manhattan Downbeat" just doesn't work. Astaire's favorite, famed choreographer, Hermes Pan, comes back to work on the big, well-known "Shoes With Wings." But the evocative, emotional highpoint of the film has to be the reprise of "They Can't Take That Away From Me," from "Shall We Dance," on which both Ira and George Gershwin worked. It reminds us of every reason we loved the earlier pictures. "
Fitting Coda To a Great Team
David Baldwin | Philadelphia,PA USA | 08/30/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Though entertaining there is a tinge of melancholia to this final screen pairing of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Though essentially a musical comedy about a stage couple whose long association has created tension between them you sense the words spoken by the two actors has a ring of truth in their real life partnership. That said, there are enough musical and dance routines to lighten the air. Aside from the impressive piano stylings of Oscar Levant there is also the breathtaking "Shoes With Wings" sequence with Astaire. Though not the most entertaining of the Astaire-Rogers pairings it is a curio that should not be missed if one wants to understand the career trajectory of this legendary team."