Cinema Slueth – Royal Wedding

Stars: 5 / 5

Recommendation:  A wonderful musical with a beautiful story, great dancing sequences including dancing on the ceiling. It makes you want to dance and jump in joy while leaving you with a fell good feeling in the end.

Royal Wedding is a 1951 American musical comedy film directed by Stanley Donen, produced by Arthur Freed and released by Loew’s Inc. The film starred Fred Astaire, Jane Powell, Peter Lawford and Sara Churchill in the lead.

The music for the film was composed by Burton Lane and lyrics were penned by Alan Jay Lerner who also provided the screenplay for the film. All dances were choreographed by Nick Castle in collaboration with Fred Astaire, although only Castle gets credited. This was the second directorial venture for Donen; and was released as Wedding Bells in United Kingdom.

Tom Bowen (portrayed by Fred Astaire) and Ellen Bowen (portrayed by Jane Powell), stars of a hit Broadway show are persuaded to perform it in London to capitalize the royal wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Philip Mountbatten. But they themselves find love along the way.

Fred Astaire is a famous actor, dancer, singer and choreographer with a plethora of successful movies, specially with Ginger Rogers on his side. And I have never watched his movies – although watched a lot of his songs on YouTube. 😛 He is dashing, charming, musical and oh so flexible when he moves, even at the age of 52. Simply amazing!!

Turner Classic Movies (TCM) channel when aired this movie, had exclusively mentioned in the snippet – Includes Astaire’s famous dance on the ceiling. That intrigued me to check this movie out. Although I was waiting all the while for Ginger Rogers to step in at any moment whenever Fred Astaire came on screen. Silly me!! 😛

Jane Powell portrays the role of Ellen Bowen, Fred’s Tom’s sister in the film. This was the first film that Jane acted in as an adult. In fact Astaire was almost 30 years older than Jane in the film. Astaire was 52 and Jane was 22 at the time. No wonder many criticized that they should have done a father-daughter routine rather than brother-sister.

Peter Lawford portrays the role of Lord John Brindale, with a similar character as Ellen Bowen who always have a boyfriend / girlfriend on their arm and the affair doesn’t last more than a weekend for them. How ironic that they fall for each other in the film.

Keenan Wynn has a double role in the film, both as talent agents – As Irving Klinger in New York (Left in the pic); and as Edgar Klinger, Irv’s brother, in London (Right in the pic).

Sara Churchill who portrays the role of Anne Ashmond was the daughter Winston Churchill. She is the love interest to Tom Bowen in the film.

This was the first screenplay for Alan Jay Lerner. Lerner was inspired by the partnership that Fred Astaire had with his sister Adele with whom he used to perform regularly and toured too. When they were on tour in London, Adele got married to a British Lord, which we see happening in the film as well with Powell’s Ellen.

The iconic song “You’re All the World to Me” in which Fred Astaire is seen dancing on roof was impressive and genius minds of cinematographer and set directors. Wikipedia mentions that it was achieved by building a set inside a revolving barrel and mounting the camera and its operator to an ironing board which could be rotated along with the room. Astaire danced in the barrel set as if he really danced on the wall and ceiling. Impressive!!

Costumes were designed by Helen Rose, but she was not credited for them. Look at the gorgeous outfits she designed for Jane Powell. Makes me want to have some of them for myself. 🙂

A wonderful musical with a beautiful story, great dancing sequences including dancing on the ceiling. It makes you want to dance and jump in joy while leaving you with a fell good feeling in the end.

Spoiler Alerts:

Movie Trivia:

  1. The opening credits are displayed on engraved invitation pages.
  2. The film’s opening number is “Ev’ry Night At Seven” where Astaire and Powell perform from the play within play – the Broadway musical that they are part in the film.

3. The waltz “Open Your Eyes” that Powell and Astaire perform on ship is based on a real life incident that Fred and his sister Adele Astaire faced aboard a ship to London in 1923. They are seen dancing even when the boat is rocking and all the contents are rolling along making it a humorous one.

4. The song “How Could You Believe Me When I Said I Love You When You Know I’ve Been a Liar All My Life” is considered the longest title for any song by MGM.

5. Astaire dances with a coat rack for the song “Sunday Jumps”. This was made specifically for the film and for this song.

6. This was the final film for James Finalyson.

7 Lux Radio Theater broadcast a 60-minute radio adaptation of the movie on April 14th, 1952 with Jane Powell reprising her film role.

8. The royal wedding being celebrated in the film is that of Princess Elizabeth to Prince Philip on November 20, 1947.

Grammatical / Historical / Location / Character Errors:

  1. In the opening song, in long shot Tom already has his leg up on the throne folded. In close-up shot, he puts his leg up on the throne again.
  2. When Ellen’s two suitors – Pete Cumberly and Dick – have a brawl in the New York bar, the last frames of the scene show Dick facing the camera laughing, breaking out of character.
  3. In the song “How could you believe me…” in one scene, in the long shot Tom’s cap is not all that torn but just folded in. But in the subsequent close shot, his hat is torn and was easy for Ellen to break it.

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