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La belle, la perfectly swell romance July 8, 2006

Posted by Jeff in 1929 through WWII, Dance, Movies.

From Swing Time (1936), a movie that was originally going to be named after this number — “Never Gonna Dance”. A dance to a song about not dancing, a love duet by two people who have just broken up.

Directed by George Stevens, music by Jerome Kern and lyrics by Dorothy Fields, art direction by Van Nest Polgase, edited by Henry Berman … I met Joe Biroc, the camera operator who did the amazing crane work following them up the steps.

The dance was intended to be done in one shot (there’s a match cut after they make it to the top of the stairs). It took forty-eight takes, from mid-morning until 4 am the next day — the floor had to be re-polished between each take, and at one point they had to change Ginger’s dress which had feathers that made Fred sneeze. Towards the end Ginger’s feet were bleeding in her high heels.

The best of the best, Astaire-Rogers-wise, and just about the best of movie craftsmanship, Hollywood-wise.

Fred Astaire appears in my original screenplay, Equity.

More on Astaire, here.

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