Monday, August 30, 2010

75 Years Ago Today

Probably the most famous of the 10 dance films made by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, Top Hat opened in Radio City Music Hall on Aug 30 1935. Let's let the director Garson Kanin describe this:

I remember going to see Top Hat at the Radio City Music Hall on its opening day. Never before and never since have I seen an audience stand up and cheer at the end of a picture. A standing ovation for a movie? I sat through the picture twice and that evening insisted on going again and taking my brother with me. Twice for him too, which meant four times that day for me. The next evening I was back again. Only once through this time. Then I went back every single evening, each time taking a beloved friend and enjoying it anew through his or her eyes.

Top Hat
was, unquestionably, a breakthrough, a milestone. The musical screen was growing up. This was a brand of sophistication new, not only to it, but to most of the musical shows on Broadway.

Top Hat was the first movie specifically written for Fred and Ginger, and it was a huge success for them, the most financially successful of their films. Many stories surround the production of Top Hat, a lot of them around Rogers' feather dress used in Cheek to Cheek:

Rogers' own design and sketch.

One of my favorite pictures of Ginger.

Long shot of the dancing of Cheek to Cheek.

Here I pass along a few of the more interesting photos from Top Hat.

The outlandish bed of Gingers in the "No Strings" section of the film.

This poster is for my friend Victoria! Enjoy, m'dear.

An RKO design sketch of the "Lovely Day" gazebo.

A set picture taken during the shooting of "The Piccolino" production number near the end of the film.

Ginger, donating the "Piccolino" dress to the Smithsonian in the '70's.

A reverse still from the last scene, showing off part of "The Big White Set" of a fantasy Venice.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Dreams point the way

So as it seems to happen all too often, I'm bedeviled by a ton of problems, some of which I can deal with...but a lot which are just too much. Naturally, I dream about this.

1.) All of these life problems swarm on me like bees....and I kind of succumb.

2.) My friends both online and IRL arrive and each of them know how to solve these problems. I have to father a child with this woman that each of them has brought for me, and this action will solve each problem in turn. In classic dream logic fashion, we both understand and know this to be true, and also that I will never see or raise these children. And as they would say in the Old Testament, thus the begatting began.

3.) After this is over, one of my friends - who will remain nameless - shows up to tell me that everyone has deceived me. It is not the production of these children that will solve these life problems; I have to write a book about each child, books that will determine the lives of these children, children I have never seen, and relate each book to each problem which will then be solved in turn. But I can't bring myself to write these books this way. I see it as unfair to my unknown progeny to burden them with solving my problems. I write each book as a biography of a person totally different than myself, wanting them to have a life without the angst and grief...

4.) After having done this...nothing happens for me, but I accept that. Then, slowly, each child, each fully grown at different stages of their lives comes back in time to solve each problem of mine, not knowing either the problem or myself, but knowing that they had to do this....

I haven't even mentioned the soundtrack and visual aspects to this dream...I dream DeMille-like spectacles...

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Everybody Conga!

Go here for the moving show!