Ciné-club : An interview with Hannah Hyam about her book "Fred and Ginger" par Patricia Guinot
Both Fred and Ginger would have hated that. One contributing factor to the coolness of their relationship appears to be Fred's wife, Phyllis. Rogers was certain that this 'request' also reflected Fred Astaire's opinion. . And as Fred pivoted Ginger around him, his Top Hat came off and nearly plunged. POETRY IN MOTION Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers Off screen, as a new book reveals, it was a stormy relationship, beginning with a.
Edward Gallafent also devotes a part of his book to the films made by Astaire from Broadway Melody of to The Barkleys of Broadway in The last film produced by the studio The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle doesn't enter into the same tradition as the former musicals made by the couple.
Hannah Hyam's book Fred and Ginger - The Astaire-Rogers Partnership is a precious document for lovers of the films and novices. It offers an elaborate analysis of their acting as well as their way of singing and dancing together. Her exhaustive thematic approach - extremely well documented - is an intelligent and brilliant choice that perfectly brings out the exceptional collaboration of this atypical couple in the history of the American movies.
Captivated, thanks to her mother, by the charm of the "Fred and Ginger" films, she has devoted twenty years of her life -intermittently- to the process of writing this work, and has become one of the most outstanding experts on Astaire and Rogers. Your book focuses mainly on seven films among the ten films Astaire and Rogers made togetherfrom The Gay Divorcee to Carefree Why did you make this choice?
These seven films form a distinct series and, in my view, represent the most typical, memorable and important work that Astaire and Rogers did together. Their partnership proper begins in The Gay Divorcee - before that they just happened to appear together in Flying Down to Rioand the two films they made after Carefree The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle and The Barkleys of Broadway are very different in kind from the series of seven.
It's in those seven films that we see the quintessential "Fred and Ginger", and that Astaire and Rogers perform the greatest of their dance duets. Seven movies from The Gay Divorcee to Carefree Not so many people know that they had already met before their teaming in Hollywood? What about their first professional meeting? That was inwhen Astaire was asked to choreograph a dance for Rogers and her partner in the Gershwin stage show Girl Crazy. For their first film together, Flying down to Rio, Rogers had fourth billing and Astaire fifth billing.
Why was she billed above him? Rogers only appeared in the film by chance, as a replacement for another actress who had dropped out to get married, and neither she nor Astaire was ever intended to have a starring role.
She was familiar to movie audiences by this time, having already appeared in 19 films, whereas Astaire, a star of the stage, had only appeared in one film which was released just a month before Rioin a relatively minor role.
So it's not surprising that Rogers was billed above him.
Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers
From then on they had equal top billing in all their films except Roberta where Irene Dunne was the top starthough Astaire's name always appeared first. Their first dance on screen for this movie Carioca was a real success. Why did they make the difference?
The Carioca is not an outstanding dance by Astaire and Rogers standards, but it was a breath of fresh air in Before then, no really distinguished dancers had appeared on screen, and dance routines were clumsily filmed and directed - until Busby Berkeley came along and began to create his spectacular formations, which were really more to do with visual effect than choreography. When Astaire and Rogers got up to dance The Carioca it was the first time movie audiences had seen anything like it - a man and a woman dancing together with style, elegance, humour, apparent spontaneity and obvious rapport.
It's not surprising they were an instant hit. Astaire et Rogers first meeting on screen To analyse their partnership, you have divided your book into thematic chapters instead of adopting the usual film-by-film approach, and you concentrate mainly on their acting together their complementaritytheir singing, and their dance duets - their playful and romantic duets.
Their dancing together in these seven films represents only 50 minutes. You said that "they were partners in romance". Hermes Pan declared that "There's never been the same electricity that has happened as when Fred and Ginger danced together".
Can you develop this idea? First, let me stress that their complementarity - the rapport between Astaire and Rogers and the emotional richness of their on-screen relationship - is not limited to their acting together, it's a feature of their partnership as a whole, and especially their dance duets. Yes, it's rather amazing that their dances represent such a small proportion of the time they appear on screen - usually just three duets in each film, of about two or three minutes each.
Romance is the key to the relationship between Fred and Ginger, and it's this that distinguishes the series of seven films I focus on from the other three. Some of their best duets are dances of courtship, in which Fred wins over a reluctant Ginger - for example Night and Day from The Gay Divorceeor Isn't This a Lovely Day from Top Hat - but most of them are romantic in essence, whether they're playful or more serious in mood. Astaire of course danced with a great many women after his partnership with Rogers ended, and some of them were extremely fine dancers, but they all lack to some degree the qualities that made Rogers such a perfect partner for him, and especially such a perfect partner in romance.
That electricity that Hermes Pan refers to stems partly from the wonderful rapport between Astaire and Rogers, but it's unique also because of all Astaire's partners Rogers was the most gifted dancing actress, able to convey quite brilliantly anything from mischievous humour to ecstatic joy to the deepest despair.
Among the romantic duets, some of them are amazing. In Robertain Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, there is the famous gesture where Astaire cradles Rogers' head, in Carefreein Change Partners, you describe the particular moment where Astaire hypnotizes Rogers and you comment "they glide slowly across the floor, lost in each other. I think I've partly answered this in the previous question, but there is a lot more to be said about the romantic duets. They are supremely expressive, rich in emotional content and dramatic and romantic interest.
The romantic duets are also, of course, set to some of the finest songs in the Hollywood musical, and we shouldn't underestimate the importance of the music, and the orchestral arrangements, to their success.
But a large part of their appeal is purely visual - Astaire and Rogers just look so beautiful dancing together in romantic mood, and you don't even need to hear the soundtrack to appreciate the superb visual spectacle. When Astaire was able to take control of the filming of his dances, almost all the dances were filmed in one continuous shot.
Why was this so important? Previously, dances had been filmed with distracting cuts and clumsy devices such as inserted shots of dancers' feet. Astaire's choreography isn't just a matter of legs and feet - he uses the whole body, and so he insisted on showing the dancers in full figure, with a minimum of editing or shots from different angles to interrupt the continuity of the dance.
The viewer is therefore able to concentrate on the dance and the dancers, with no distractions, and the visual and dramatic impact is immeasurably enhanced.
- Not such a fine romance
- Fred and Ginger: The truth
Not just because they would never have given their approval to a travel firm using their picture in this way, but simply because neither of them liked to be thought of as "partners". In fact, the time has come to say that they didn't want to be a regular act at all. More than that, they didn't actually like each other very much, and needed a great deal of persuasion to work together time after time. Fred once told me in an aside while I was working on what would be his authorised biography - but in a statement distinctly not for publication at the time - "Oh Ginger!
She always wanted to be boss. I didn't use the statement in the book. Fred was still alive at the time and it would have been churlish to go against his wishes, but it was difficult not to read between the lines and from the expression of exasperation on his face - almost 30 years after they had last worked together. It was a fact underlined by Miss Rogers herself a few years later.
We were having lunch - scrambled eggs for her - at London's Dorchester Hotel. At first, she wanted to talk only about herself, and preferably not at all about Astaire. It was difficult territory to navigate. Related Articles 26 April It was as if I had asked her if she had ever thought of taking dancing lessons. I think she must have realised the impact that stare was having and decided that some explanation was required. The lady had to come first, and she felt it perfectly reasonable that "Mr Astaire", as Ginger referred to him throughout our chat, gave way to her demands.
Needless to say, that was not how Fred saw it. He was the one in charge. He worked on the routines as though he were planning a military operation.
Every step that he intended to take was mapped out on paper by him in advance, and then on a blackboard. The battle was won when he swept her into his arms in a final triumphant surrender. Indeed, that was the way their films were, too - he stalks her out, she runs away, he runs after her, she ultimately melts.
Fred and Ginger: The truth | Express Yourself | Comment | porkostournaments.info
The truth was, she resented it. What she wanted to do, she told me, was her own thing - and preferably in high dramas, such as Kitty Foyle, in which she played to the horror of her fans, more used to seeing her in those flowing white dresses an unmarried mother - and won an Oscar for her trouble.
When the time came to separate, Fred was as delighted as she was. It would help, he thought, to remove from the popular image the notion of their togetherness. But by then, everyone thought of them as that partnership, or even worse a "team". His first regular partner had been his sister Adele, with whom he went to dancing classes. She was a year older.