JOE BLITMAN'S
FASHION & CELEBRITY DOLLS
2019 HOLIDAY ADVENT CALENDAR
DAY 4




16 Dartmouth Drive
Rancho Mirage, CA 92270
323-953-6490

 
joeblitman@aol.com





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Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers first appeared together at the end of 1933 in Flying Down to Rio in supporting roles dancing to “The Carioca.”  






The audience response to their one dance was explosive and RKO desperately wanted a follow-up feature, but this time with the two of them starring.  Creating something original proved problematic, so RKO paid $20,000 and bought the film rights to Astaire’s last stage musical - Cole Porter’s “The Gay Divorce”.
 





On the way to the big screen, all but one Porter song was dropped and the title gained an “e” to become “The Gay Divorcee.” 






It opened at the Music Hall at the end of 1934 and the grosses were so big there and everywhere, it almost single-handedly helped RKO stave off bankruptcy.

So I mentioned RKO only kept one Cole Porter song from the original score, but it’s a lollapalooza - probably his best known song, ever - "Night and Day."




For the movie, Astaire used much of the same choreography he’d created for the stage.  The Astaire-Rogers movies often include a “seduction” dance.  Most would agree this is the best one.  The only jarring note is a shot of the dance thru an open Venetian blind.  Otherwise, pure terpsichorean poetry.


Night and Day


Astaire’s big solo - "Like Looking For A Needle in a Haystack” - comes early in the movie and it is a textbook lesson on how to create a mesmerizing dance number while handling an endless number of props.  Dazzling.


Like Looking for a Needle in a Haystack


After Flying Down to Rio’s “The Carioca” spawned a national dance craze, RKO tried to capture lightning in a bottle again with “The Continental.”  The dance never caught on, but the song was the first to win an Oscar.  And the number, which goes on for some 17 minutes, is a kaleidoscope of what variations you can achieve with black and white clothing.


The Continental


The comedic elements of the script don’t really hold up 85 years later (as you’ll see in the intro to this next clip), but hang on for the final short Astaire-Rogers dance.  Again, it was adapted by Astaire from the finale of the stage version, and it is thrilling (and no doubt a boon to upholstery cleaners everywhere).


Closing Sequence


It is highly unusual for someone to sing in an Astaire-Rogers movie other than the two stars, but here we have 17 year old unknown Betty Grable and 48 year old Edward Everett Horton in a truly unfortunate pair of shorts doing their best to sell a novelty song, “Let’s Knock Knees.”


Let's Knock Knees





One last piece of trivia about The Gay Divorcee.
 


Successful movies often spark style crazes.  From this movie came a mania for Venetian blinds. 





One of the largest orders for Venetian blinds ever placed was to the Burlington Venetian Blind Co., of Burlington, Vt., which supplied blinds for the windows of the Empire State Building. 



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RUTH HANDLER AUTOBIOGRAPHY
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ROSA PARKS
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SLEEPING PRETTY
NRFB
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TAILORED TUXEDO
SILKSTONE KEN
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KEN TUXEDO
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Radio City Music Hall Trivia Question of the Day:

So, with over 600 films that have premiered at Radio City,
which stars had the most films play there from 1933-1978? 




The champ is Cary Grant with 27 movies
(with runs totaling 113 playing weeks).







Next comes Ginger Rogers with 23 films: 







Katharine Hepburn with 22 films:




and Fred Astaire with 16 films: 






PIECE OF PERSONAL TRIVIA

One of us (Joe) saw this movie on TV dozens of times when he was a kid and loved it.  In 1974, when Radio City was having trouble booking movies, the whole place was rented out to a group putting on an Art Deco Festival.  Art Deco antiques were brought in for display and to be on sale in the lobby. 






There was an exhibition of Art Deco posters, and over the course of the 3 day festival, three Astaire-Rogers movies were shown on the big screen (one per night) - The Gay Divorcee, Top Hat and Swing Time

These were brand new prints struck by RKO and when each was shown on the mammoth 70’ by 35’ screen, it was a quasi-religious experience for the thousands of people that filled the auditorium. 

You almost felt like you were back in the 1930’s seeing these films for the first time in all of their black ’n white fabulousness.





 




Merry Christmas


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JOE BLITMAN'S
FASHION & CELEBRITY DOLLS

 
 

323-953-6490

  
   
joeblitman@aol.com