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edgeciff

ROYAL WEDDING

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ROYAL WEDDING, one of my favorite MGM musicals and run on TCM today (2/17) has me wondering what the film would have been like had it been cast as originally planned. Judy Garland was originally set to play Astaire's sister and she would have been great, although Jane Powell turned out to be a fine replacement and her singing is at its peak. But Sarah Churchill was a poor replacement for Moira Shearer. Bland Churchill is a triple threat, can't sing, dance or act. However the beautiful Shearer would have been marvelous in the part, and probably Astaire & Shearer would have partnered at least one great musical number. I think this would have taken ROYAL WEDDING up several notches. Arthur Freed always wanted Shearer to come to MGM and its a pity Shearer only made THE STORY OF THREE LOVES for the studio. I have also always wondered is it a coincidence that both Churchill & Shearer are redheads?

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Yes, thank you. I believe this cut number was included on the DVD. I wonder if it was cut do to Lawford singing off key?

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> {quote:title=Edgecliff wrote:}{quote}

> Yes, thank you. I believe this cut number was included on the DVD. I wonder if it was cut do to Lawford singing off key?

 

Well, maybe that is why it was cut :P

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That's true about Jane Powell replacing June Allyson due to her pregnancy. An interesting side-note is that June Allyson originally replaced Judy Garland, due to the numerous problems she caused at that point in her life.

 

Terrence.

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Thanks for clearing that up for me. I honestly didn't realize that. But doesn't it seem strange that Allyson would be considered ahead of Garland? Don't get me wrong--I love June Allyson, but her talent was far overshadowed by that of Judy.

 

Terrence.

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From what I've read, Garland had barely staggered to the finish line on her previous film (Summer Stock? I could be wrong) and was on a desperately needed vacation. The director of that film was originally assigned to RW and wanted no part of her again.

Besides, to tell you the truth, I've never bought into the Garland Showbiz Superwoman myth (anymore than the comparable Sinatra godlike schtick). They were solid entertainers who successfully parlayed the dreary baggage of their misspent lives into a perverse glamor that transcended their ultimately tattered and frayed talents. On the other hand, both Allyson and J. Powell were dependable, good-natured, multi-talented pros who could always be relied upon to get the job done with charm and pizzazz to spare (like, supposedly, Adele Astaire, on whom the RW role of Ellen Bowen was based).

 

CFH

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I'm glad you said that about Judy Garland. While I've always appreciated her talent, I never felt that she was this all-time greatest entertainer that some claim. I especially loved her dances with Astaire in "Easter Parade" and her comic timing in so many movies. But it's a well-known fact that she made things miserable for those who worked on movies with her. And you are right about so many of the other MGM musical stars, who were reliable, cooperative, extremely talented, and seemed like genuinely nice people in their personal lives.

 

Terrence.

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If you're interested, the ROYAL WEDDING DVD released a couple of years ago in the MUSICALS FROM THE DREAM FACTORY Vol. II package has a featurette called "June, Judy, and Jane", which gives the full story of the movie's problems in getting off the ground - with interview clips of both Allyson and Powell. (one interesting footnote was that Vera-Ellen was considered for the part even before June Allyson).

 

CFH

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Well, that was a new piece of information that I did not know. So Vera-Ellen was considered for "Royal Wedding"? One can only wonder why they changed their mind about that. Wouldn't she have been wonderful in that? Well, if nothing else, it let the world know that, among her many talents, Jane Powell could really dance! Also, it was one of her first grown-up roles.

 

Terrence.

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Never heard that info about Vera-Ellen replacing Garland in ROYAL WEDDING. I am wondering if she was considered as replacement for Moira Shearer who backed out of the film (I believe) due to pregnancy. This part seems more ideal for Vera-Ellen than playing Astaire's sister. I would have picked her rather than the untalented Sarah Churchill! Incidently Vera-Ellen had just appeared opposite Astaire in BELLE OF NEW YORK and THREE LITTLE WORDS.

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No, the sequence is: Vera-Ellen considered FIRST - but is never offered role. June Allyson hired but defaults during rehearsals due to pregnancy. Judy Garland hired in desperation to replace her; director Charles Walters (?) goes ballistic, having just had harrowing experience directing her in previous picture, and quits. Stanley Donen hired - but Garland continues to be trouble and is fired. She makes suicide try in New York hotel room. Jane Powell hired.

 

I could be wrong but I think BELLE OF NEW YORK was Astaire's NEXT picture after RW (1951)

(I'm really not a know-it-all - just very familiar with the RW saga).

 

CFH

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In reading the biography of Vera-Ellen by David Soren there is no mention of an offer to play in ROYAL WEDDING, nor have I ever read anything at all about it. BELLE OF NEW YORK was released in 1952 and oddly enough it was originally thought Judy Garland would star opposite Astaire back in 1946. There were so many films announced for Vera-Ellen at MGM. They include GIVE A GIRL A BREAK and SKIRTS AHOY which supposedly had Esther Williams nixing her for a co-starring role in the film and the part was given to non-singing/dancing actress Joan Evans. Also, Vera-Ellen filmed a sequence for MGM's all star DEEP IN MY HEART, but the number was cut before the film's release. Other films announced for her were ATHENA and HIT THE DECK. Apparently MGM had little faith in the dancing star and she left MGM in the early 50s.

 

ch3, would be curious to know where you got the info re Vera-Ellen and ROYAL WEDDING. She is one of my favorite musical stars.

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The reference to Vera-Ellen was in the aforementioned documentary feature on the making of ROYAL WEDDING, "June, Judy, and Jane". That's the only time I ever ran across it.

 

CFH

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My one gripe about ROYAL WEDDING is that the talented Janie P, who was hired at the last minute and, at 21, still did a terrific job in a very demanding role opposite the masterful Astaire, seldom, if ever, gets her due for her contribution. I have the same problem with SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS.

 

Sure RW is the film where Astaire "dances on the ceiling,"-a great number-but it's also the film that introduces the lovely "Too Late Now," beautifully warbled by Jane and includes the marvelous "How Could You Believe Me" knockabout with Astaire as a Broadway sharpie and Powell as his adenoidal "dame." And although she's not really right for the role of an "Island girl" in the "I Left My Hat in Haiti" number, I always enjoy the tropical zing Jane gives to this number. (And at least her contribution in this number WAS recognized in THAT'S DANCING! lol!)

 

Since RW was a box office success, one wonders why Jane didn't do more films for the Freed Unit. I guess the fact that musicals were declining in popularity by the early '50s might have had something to do with it. Also, since he used them so seldom, I suspect that Arthur Freed really didn't like sopranos very much.

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I liked your thoughts on the talented Miss Powell. I've always enjoyed her, and she really got a chance to shine in "Royal Wedding." It's too bad that she really came into her own just as the movie musicals were starting to decline in popularity. Ironically, her biggest hit ("Seven Brides") was the last MGM movie she made. By the way there's another Jane Powell movie that shows up occasionally on TCM. It's called "The Girl Most Likely" from RKO and is a musical remake of a Ginger Rogers movie called "Tom, Dick, and Harry." There';s a terrific dance number that takes place in Tijuana that's always fun to watch. I thought of that number when you mentioned her playing an island girl in RW.

 

Terrence.

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Hi Terrence:

 

I think Jane's last film at MGM was 1955's HIT THE DECK. She also made Athena after Seven Brides.

 

I've read that by the early/mid-1950s, Jane was so frustrated with her wholesome, juvenile screen image that she demanded a meeting be set up between herself, producer Joe Pasternak (whose unit produced most of her films at Metro) and MGM executives. At the meeting, Jane openly challenged Pasternak to explain why he hadn't noticed that she had "grown up," gotten married, had a child, etc. and should be assigned more mature roles.

 

According to Pasternak, he admitted Jane was right and immediately set out to correct the oversight by purchasing the rights to 20s torch singer Ruth Etting's life story as a vehicle for Jane. When the studio cast Doris Day as Etting in the film that ultimately became Love Me or Leave Me, Jane decided to leave MGM (though she later acknowledged that she got out just before they were going to fire her...along with most of their musical contract players.)

 

I've seen "The Girl Most Likely." It's a cute movie with some good musical numbers choreographed by Gower Champion. Not the greatest film in the world, but it gives Jane an opportunity to show off her musical versatility in some fun dream/dance sequences, and she looks lovely in it. I think the number you're thinking of is "Balbo." (The one with everyone at the beach dancingi in the surf?) I agree it's a lot of fun to watch.

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Hi, Markus. I enjoyed your comments about Jane Powell. Apparently I was misled when I said that "Seven Brides" was her last MGM movie. I think perhaps you and I are thinking of two different musical numbers from "Girl Most Likely." The number I had in mind does not take place on the beach, but rather on land in Tijuana. It's one of those numbers that includes most of the cast. I wish I could remember the name of the song. It was fun to see Keith Andes in that number, and I believe he did his own singing in that. Anyway, thanks for your input.

 

Terrence.

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