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Home > Astaire & Rogers Ultimate Collector's Edition
Astaire & Rogers Ultimate Collector's Edition
Astaire & Rogers Ultimate Collector's Edition


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Sales Rank: 4,953

Actors: Fred Astaire
Rating: NR
Features: Box set, Black & White, DVD, Original recording remastered, Restored, Subtitled, NTSC
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Release Date: October 12, 2010
Studio: Warner Home Video

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All 10 Astaire & Rogers Movies Restored and Remastered. Extensive Special Features on Each Movie Plus Bonus Disc Documentary Profile: ASTAIRE AND ROGERS PARTNERS IN RHYTHM FLYING DOWN TO RIO • Comedy Short Beer and Pretzels with Ted Healy and His Stooges • Classic Cartoon I Like Mountain Music • Theatrical Trailer THE GAY DIVORCEE • 2 Musical Shorts: Show Kids and Star Night at the Cocoanut Grove • Classic Cartoon Shake Your Powder Puff • Audio-Only Bonus: Hollywood on the Air Radio Promo • Theatrical Trailer ROBERTA • Musical Short Starlit Days at the Lido • Classic Cartoon The Calico Dragon • Audio-Only Bonus: Hollywood on the Air Radio Promo • Theatrical Trailer TOP HAT • Commentary by Fred Astaire's Daughter Ava Astaire McKenzie and Film Historian Larry Billman • Featurette On Top: Inside the Success of Top Hat • Comedy Short Watch the Birdie with Bob Hope • Classic Cartoon Page Miss Glory • Theatrical Trailer FOLLOW THE FLEET • Featurette Follow the Fleet: The Origins of Those Dancing Feet • Musical Short Melody Master: Jimmie Lunceford and His Dance Orchestra • Classic Cartoon Let It Be Me • Theatrical Trailer SWING TIME • Commentary by John Mueller, Author of Astaire Dancing • Featurette The Swing of Things: Swing Time Step by Step • Musical Short Hotel a la Swing • Classic Cartoon Bingo Crosbyana • Theatrical Trailer SHALL WE DANCE • Commentary by Songwriter Hugh Martin and Pianist Kevin Cole • Featurette The Music of Shall We Dance • Musical Short Sheik to Sheik • Classic Cartoon Toy Town Hall CAREFREE • Musical Short Public Jitterbug No. 1 • Classic Cartoon September in the Rain THE STORY OF VERNON AND IRENE CASTLE • Musical Short Happily Buried • Classic Cartoon Puss Gets the Boot THE BARKLEYS OF BROADWAY • Featurette Reunited: Astaire and Rogers Together Again • The Passing Parade Short Annie Was a Wonder • Classic Droopy Cartoon Wags to Riches • Theatrical Trailer ON EACH MOVIE: • Subtitles: English, Français & Español Main Feature. Bonus Material/Trailer May Not Be Subtitled.
The Astaire & Rogers Ultimate Collector's Edition contains all 10 Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers films plus a CD, a bonus DVD with the documentary Astaire and Rogers: Partners in Rhythm, press-book replicas, and some other material. The Astaire-Rogers films mix light romantic comedy usually centered around mistaken identities and ending, inevitably, in blissful wedding promises with elegant dinner wear and surreal sets intended to transport '30s audiences away from the Depression to such locales as Rio, Paris, and Venice. The two stars are also aided by a recurring stable of RKO players such as Edward Everett Horton master of the double-take, Eric Blore, and Helen Broderick. And then there's that sensational dancing set to great songs by the likes of Irving Berlin, George and Ira Gershwin, and Jerome Kern, numbers that are not merely entertaining but also innovative for their time in that they reveal character and advance the plot. Add it all up, and you have a recipe for an irrepressible joie de vivre that practically defines the movie musical.

Flying Down to Rio 1933 headlined Dolores Del Rio and Gene Raymond, but it was the fourth- and fifth-billed stars who would rewrite cinematic history. Astaire and Rogers had limited screen time, but were still able to establish many of the trademarks of their later films. The heart of the film is "The Carioca," a company dance extravaganza in which they take the floor together for the first time; their eyes meet and their foreheads touch. Their dance lasts only a few minutes, but it was the highlight of the film and audiences wanted more. The Gay Divorcee 1934 is their best early picture, a loose adaptation of Astaire's stage show, 'The Gay Divorce.' The only song retained for the movie is Cole Porter's smash hit "Night and Day," which is the setting for a sublime pas de deux between Fred and Ginger. The closer is the sprawling 17-minute ensemble number "The Continental." Roberta 1935 was a step backward, with too much time spent on 1930s Parisian fashion and the romance between top-billed Irene Dunne who gets the best Jerome Kern ballads, "Yesterdays" and "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" and Randolph Scott. But as the second-banana couple Astaire and Rogers still get a tap battle, a romantic duet, and plenty of comic banter.

With a score by Irving Berlin, Top Hat 1935 is most famous for two numbers, Astaire's definitive tuxedo setting "Top Hat, White Tie, and Tails" and the feathery duet "Cheek to Cheek." But other joys include Astaire's "Fancy Free" declaration, "Isn't It a Lovely Day," and the grand finale "The Piccolino." Follow the Fleet 1936 changes the pace a bit, with Astaire playing a sailor, and it suffers from making him and Rogers the second-banana couple to the dull Randolph Scott and Harriet Hilliard. But it still has plenty of laughs and some classic Irving Berlin numbers, including "Let Yourself Go," which Rogers sings before she and Astaire compete in a dance contest; a Rogers solo tap number; "I'm Putting All My Eggs in One Basket," their best comic dance. The pièce de résistance is "Let's Face the Music and Dance," a show within a show in which the pair dons their customary evening formals. Effortlessly flowing from pantomime to song to dance, this sublime piece of storytelling is one of the series' defining moments. Maybe their most enjoyable picture, Swing Time 1936 features the set-piece "Pick Yourself Up," in which Rogers "teaches" Astaire to dance before they break into a spectacular number; the farewell ode "Never Gonna Dance," and the Oscar-winning "Just the Way You Look Tonight," from the team of Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields.

Shall We Dance 1937 has a complex plot that has Astaire and Rogers actually getting married before the final credits roll, and turns George and Ira Gershwin's brilliant "They Can't Take That Away from Me" into a heartbreaking ode. Other great songs include "Slap That Bass," "They All Laughed," and "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off," unforgettably performed on roller skates. The eighth and ninth entries in the series tried some different approaches, with the underrated Carefree 1938 more of a comedy vehicle for Ginger yet still including some fine dances and Irving Berlin songs as well as their first onscreen kiss and The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle 1939 portraying the pair as historical dancing stars and using a score of turn-of-the-century standards. The Barkleys of Broadway 1949 is the oddity, reuniting the stars 10 years after their last RKO picture when Judy Garland had to be replaced due to health problems. It's trademark MGM: splashy colors, Fred in a gimmicky solo number playing sorcerer's apprentice to a line of unoccupied shoes, Oscar Levant providing his usual dynamic pianism and acerbic personality, and a score that is at its best when it borrows songs from a previous generation including the big ballroom number set to "They Can't Take That Away from Me". The film falls short of their best work, but serves as a fond remembrance of the most glorious partnership in film history. --David Horiuchi

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