How Fred Astaire Sells Musical Comedy

Silver Screenings

Go Fred! Image: tumblr

Naturally, we love Fred Astaire‘s dancing. He’s Fred Astaire, for pete sake.

Yet, when we recently watched the musical comedy Shall We Dance (1937), we realized Astaire is also a gifted salesman.

First, a little about the film, a madcap look at celebrity gossip and the media. Astaire plays an American ballet star saddled with the pretentious stage name “The Great Petrov”. Happily, Astaire’s character isn’t the type who reads his own publicity.

We see Astaire’s self-effacing nature early in the film, when his outraged manager (Edward Everett Horton) finds him rehearsing tap dancing instead of ballet:

Horton: “What on earth are you doing?”
Astaire-as-Petrov: “I’m just having fun.”
Horton: “Fun?! The Great Petrov doesn’t dance for fun!”

Besides tap dancing, Astaire’s character has another passion: a musical stage star played by the fabulous Ginger Rogers. Rogers’ character is Fed…

View original post 589 more words

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