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JarrodMcDonald

Dancing around the issue with KELLY & ASTAIRE

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I believe they only appeared together on film, once, in ZIEGFELD'S FOLLIES. Which one is your favorite? Are they equal in terms of musical talent, athletic ability, acting and sex appeal?

 

fredastairegenekelly.jpg

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They also co-hosted That's Entertainment! Part 2, but of course they weren't as agile by then as they had been in the 40s and 50s.

 

And I think Kelly's more muscular dancing was always more to my liking than the rather sophisticated style of Astaire.

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I have to laugh...a good friend of mine asked me for some musical film suggestions...and I advised her to pick up a copy of EASTER PARADE. She watched and wrote back, saying she thought Judy was marvelous and that Peter Lawford was a dream, etc...but she thought Fred Astaire lacked sexiness. She didn't think Judy would really be interested in a guy like that.

 

Later, I was reading up about the production of the film, and I learned that Gene Kelly had been slated for it, but he bowed out due to an injury he had sustained on another film. Kelly suggested the role be given to his friend Astaire, who was seriously contemplating retirement after the failure of YOLANDA AND THE THIEF.

 

When I told my friend that Gene Kelly almost starred in EASTER PARADE, she said, yes, she could see that it would've been a more romantic-type film. Is that because Gene Kelly was cuter than Fred Astaire? I'm sure there were plenty of women who found Astaire attractive. But it does lead one to wonder who had broader appeal...?

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

> When I told my friend that Gene Kelly almost starred in EASTER PARADE, she said, yes, she could see that it would've been a more romantic-type film. Is that because Gene Kelly was cuter than Fred Astaire? I'm sure there were plenty of women who found Astaire attractive. But it does lead one to wonder who had broader appeal...?

 

I don't really think it had to do with "cuteness", but with the dancing styles. I'm sure others can phrase this much better than I, but Gene's style was energetic and also more of an everyman. Astaire was more of the sophisticated type.

 

Gene could look good dancing in just about any costume, especially "everyman" clothes. Fred tended to look better in a tuxedo or some fancy outfit.

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I agree...their screen personas were somewhat different. Fred was usually seen in more dapper attire, even when he's in a gangster routine like the one we see near the end of THE BAND WAGON. Gene Kelly was not afraid to yuk it up and be the average Joe (though he definitely had more elegant moments on film).

 

When I really read between the lines of what my friend was saying, it made me do considerable thinking. Would young filmgoers (and even future generations) be more inclined to sit through a Gene Kelly dance routine than a Fred Astaire routine, just because Gene Kelly looks more 'gorgeous' or 'attractive.' I don't think people watch movies as much for talent today as they do for eye candy. I also wonder if someone like Fred Astaire came along today who had more talent in his little pinky than another beefier built-up dancer, would he be given a chance to be a movie star? We have become conditioned to having John Travolta and Patrick Swayze and Ewan McGregor. I don't think a studio would say that audiences want a scrawnier male dancer.

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

> When I really read between the lines of what my friend was saying, it made me do considerable thinking. Would young filmgoers (and even future generations) be more inclined to sit through a Gene Kelly dance routine than a Fred Astaire routine, just because Gene Kelly looks more 'gorgeous' or 'attractive.' I don't think people watch movies as much for talent today as they do for eye candy. I also wonder if someone like Fred Astaire came along today who had more talent in his little pinky than another beefier built-up dancer, would he be given a chance to be a movie star? We have become conditioned to having John Travolta and Patrick Swayze and Ewan McGregor. I don't think a studio would say that audiences want a scrawnier male dancer.

 

Well, sadly, for the very youngest generations, it isn't even a matter of Travolta or Swayze - they're old news. If the youngest ones watch any musicals _at all_, they're probably watching one of the High School Musicals, or a movie starring Hannah Montana or the Jonas Brothers.

 

I'm sure there are many top-notch performers out there doing more classical stuff - but they're probably on Broadway, or the West End.

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You're right.

 

We not only have the aristocrats (Astaire) and the proletariats (Kelly), but we have a generation gap. LOL At least when Paula Abdul shot to fame as a choreographer, she cited her classic Hollywood idols as inspiration.

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Holly and Jarrod have pretty well summed up my opinions about Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire but I think Kelly was the better all-around performer through both their careers. He was a first-rate actor and singer as well as a more expressive dancer. He was a bricklayer in Pennsylvania before turning to entertainment and this working stiff quality never really left him. I guess he just fit our culture?s male ideal more than Astaire.

 

That being said, I think Astaire was robbed of an Oscar for The Towering Inferno. When he accepts his dead girlfriend?s cat from the security guard, I melt. I heard nothing but good about him personally. I wish he?d dome more dramatic roles; I might feel differently.

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They were both brillant ballet and tap dancers. The difference is style is--

 

Astaire came from a Austrian Vienna background--He danced best with a partner.

Kelly was an Irish hoofer & and Irish step dancer.

 

That's really the difference.

 

They respected each other so much because they were both technically accomplised dancers.

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We also have to add that Gene Kelly became a director, going on to direct films without Stanley Donen in non-musical genres.

 

I agree about Kelly's work ethic and I think the audience responded to that.

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That's a really good point, cujas. I never really thought about how their background was reflected to such a degree in the way that they danced. And I also agree that GK seemed the more workmanlike, as evidenced by his decision to go on and start directing once he was no longer doing much in front of the camera.

 

But they were both one of a kind and the world of musicals would never have been the same without them!

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Of course, we have to say that Fred Astaire had a strong work ethic, too.

 

I do think that if Astaire were starting out today, he'd be denied opportunities because he's not conventionally handsome. There are probably some guys now on Broadway or off-Broadway that can really dance and sing, but they don't quite have the perfect body or the right look. The casting directors and talent scouts won't pick them unless they are highly original in some way. Maybe that means they have to be funny and do comic relief if they aren't drop-dead gorgeous.

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Yes, I think both had a strong work ethic, they more or less had to. But I think, to put it in blunt terms, that GK could best represent the blue-collar kind of man, for Fred it had to be more or less a white-collar kind of guy, I realize those terms don't necessarily describe all of their characters ideally, but I think it hints at what one could sense from watching them in the movies.

 

I'm not saying Gene couldn't look good or elegant in a tuxedo or something, but that sometimes it seemed like he was more comfortable doing a number that allowed him to dance in plain clothes, rather than fancy clothing.

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There were some misleading statements in that article. Gene Kelly is definitely known for some of his routines with females...there's some very romantic dancing with him and Debbie Reynolds in SINGIN' IN THE RAIN.

 

I do not think Astaire radiated much sex appeal from BLUE SKIES on. In that film, the love story is given to Bing Crosby and Joan Caulfield...Astaire gets none of the romantic action.

 

He is definitely not hunk material by the time EASTER PARADE comes around...the audience wants Judy Garland with Peter Lawford, not Astaire, who's too old for her and not as handsome.

 

In the 50s, Astaire's looks have diminished even more. It is more believable when his female costar is a sister instead of a love interest (as with Jane Powell in ROYAL WEDDING).

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I don't think I could ever make up my mind on who I like better. It all depends on who I'm watching. If it's Fred, he better, but then Gene, he's my favorite.

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I didn't mean to imply that Gene Kelly is unknown for his partner dances with females--"Our Love is Here to Stay" and the fountain dance from the ballet at the end of An American in Paris are great favorites of mine. I just think that people tend to visualize Astaire as half of a partnership more often, mainly because he is associated with Ginger Rogers.

 

Crosby wins the girl in Holiday Inn and Blue Skies because he was the bigger star at Paramount, where those pictures were made, but Astaire is the leading man in eight additional films after Blue Skies (after which he made an attempt to retire that lasted less than one year). Though his leading lady in Royal Wedding (Sarah Churchill) was not his dance partner, Astaire and Jane Powell both had a love interest in that one.

 

I love both Astaire and Kelly and think they were attractive throughout their careers (even as older guys), though I readily acknowledge that Astaire is less conventionally so.

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I think Astaire lacks chemistry with Lucille Bremer in YOLANDA & THE THIEF, and that's part of the reason that film failed. But I love the story, and I think the 'Coffee Time' number is slurp-tastic. I am also a fan of Minnelli's visual tour-de-force in that one...it's a sumptuous film.

 

BLUE SKIES completely wasted Astaire's talents.

 

I do believe Astaire is miscast in EASTER PARADE, and I wish the studio had waited till Gene Kelly recuperated to film it with him instead.

 

My favorite musical of Astaire's from the 50s is THE BAND WAGON, because the numbers are so infectious and Nanette is wonderful in it. And I love all the jabs at Jose Ferrer and Orson Welles. James Mitchell is more attractive than Freddy boy in that one.

 

One of the problems with Astaire's physicality is that he doesn't eat...he doesn't tone his muscles either. There is no musculature to him, as there is with Kelly. It makes him look physically weak, or scrawny, on camera. His charm carries him, and in THE BARKLEYS OF BROADWAY, Ginger basically carries the film and does him a favor by appearing in it, since Judy was unable.

 

Another problem I have with Astaire is that I don't think he is dancing with his partners like Kelly is...instead, he dances at them, or to them, to show off his skill. He seems like an isolated primadonna sometimes on film. He is at his best when he's dancing alone, like in the number where he climbs the walls and, to use Lionel Richie's phrase, dances on the ceiling, in ROYAL WEDDING.

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

> I do believe Astaire is miscast in EASTER PARADE, and I wish the studio had waited till Gene Kelly recuperated to film it with him instead.

 

Really? I think he's absolutely terrific in it!

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Wow! How opinions differ! :D I thought he and Judy worked fine together, and it shows in the film. And I believe they were thinking of teaming them again in Royal Wedding but Judy's health canceled it. Honestly, seeing Fred in Easter Parade, I can't picture Gene doing that. Just as I can't picture Fred doing Summer Stock.

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I think Judy was scheduled for BARKLEYS OF BROADWAY, but when she went haywire, MGM prevailed upon Ginger to step in at the last minute and save the production.

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Fred or Gene, I liked them both, but my money was always on Astaire his dancing was elegant, suave and carried with it an air of a more graceful time and era. Gene was the athletic energizer bunny and when he worked that side of his talent he was great nobody will.ever recreate his SINGING IN THE RAIN" number. However, when he morphed into his artistic side i.e. THE BALLET scene in "AMERICAN IN PARIS' the yawn reaction is hard to suppress. i think Gene and Fred shared an ability to create and stage dance numbers as memorable and any of Marge & Gower Champion or the other equally great choreographers. However, i would rather watch Donald O'Connor or Dan Dailey when i`m need excitement and extreme movement in dance.

 

P.S. some body in this thread mentioned the audience wanted Judy to be with Peter Lawford rather then Fred in ``?ASTER PARADE`` say it ain`t so !!! a pretty boy womanizer (Sinatra called him the CRUMB) in his tailored suits trifling with our JUDY , never happen.

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