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The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle 1939
Description: In 1911, minor scene comic, Vernon Castle meets the stage-struck Irene Foote. A several misadventures later, they marry and then abandon comedy to attempt a dancing career together. While they're performing in Paris, an agent sees them rehearse and begins them on their brilliant career as the world's foremost ballroom dancers. However, at the height of their fame, Globe Fight I begins.
Released: 29 Mar 1939 Director: H.C. Potter Writers: Richard Sherman (screen play), Oscar Hammerstein II (adaptation), Dorothy Yost (adaptation), Irene Castle (based on stories: "My Husband" and "My Memories of Vernon Castle" by) Actors: Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Edna May Oliver, Walter Brennan Genres: Biography, Drama, Musical, Romance, War
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The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle Reviews:

Do folks watch Astaire and Rogers movies for more than the pleasure of their dancing and singing? Both performed the dialog parts in their musical comedies well too, but most folks think of their films as a series of occasions to see nice dance numbers and to hear melody by Gershwin, Kern, Berlin, Porter, or Youmans. I doubt if they recall the plots."Flying Down To Rio" deals with a traveling orchestra that assists in advertising a hotel in Rio De Janairo. Nobody recalls that, but they recall Youmans' music "Orchids in the Moonlight" and his dance (for Astaire and Rogers) "The Carioca". They also remember the large production number of the young girls on the airplane wing ("Ah, Rio, Rio by the Sea - Oh!"). Except for that, several recall the character is Gene Raymond and the heroine is Delores Del Rio. The running gag of the three agents of the bank that is trying to sabotage the fresh hotel (and who are only seen as top hatted shadows) may be recalled - but it isn't really worth recalling.In the soon musicals the same issues exist. The storyline of "Gay Divorcée" (originally "Gay Divorce" on Broadway) is how Rogers hires Eric Rhodes to be found with her at a resort hotel so her husband can have grounds for divorce. The Porter score including "Night and Day" and "The Continental" was nice - but who recalls the plot (though Rhodes is very funny as the perpetual hired "other man" for immediate divorces. The final irony of the plot (almost like a flat joke's punch line) is that Eric Blore knows a nasty secret about the husband, who (for his own reasons) does not wish a divorce.The series did test to tie the couple down to more than frivolous plots dealing with mistaken identities or fake personalities. FOLLOW THE FLEET and CAREFREE tried to have plots dealing with sailors putting on a present and with a psychologist falling in love with a patient who was engaged to his greatest mate (Ralph Bellamy, of course). Both were amusing, but rather slapdash. CAREFREE had a curious concluding moment, when a hypnotized Rogers is literally slapped out of her state of hypnosis. Rogers looks like she has been the victim of domestic violence as she is married.By 1939 Astaire and Rogers were tired of the series, and wanted to go their separate ways. The public was also getting tired of the series. So finally they were given a property that reversed the formula. Instead of the melody and dancing ornamenting a bare plot, the plot incorporated the melody and dance by saying the storyline of the best ballroom dance squad of the first half of the 20th Century, Vernon and Irene Castle.I have often felt that had Vernon Castle lived beyond 1917 into the period of talkie movies, and stayed married to Irene, they might have been in some of the Astaire Rogers movies (the choreography of two rival couples dancing would have been fascinating). Vernon might have played a mentor or rival or father to Fred. But it wasn't to be. As the movie shows Vernon (who was English-born) enlisted in the Air Corps in 1917, and was killed in a freak accident saving the life of a pilot he was training (the stage in the movie is quite savage in showing the crash).In the four years (1913 - 1917) when they swept the globe with their mastery of dancing, Vernon and Irene Castle became leading celebrities. The movie follows the slow steps to fame they took, including getting stuck for awhile in Paris because Vernon was hired only to be a comic actor, not to be a dancer. It shows how Edna Mae Oliver (as their agent and friend) gets them the breaks they deserve, and how they end as figures of social change (ballroom dancing regained popularity, and they did make not only fashions for boys and girls but also "the Castle Walk" dance step). That this all happened in four years suggests what their impact would have been if they lived into the 1940s together (Irene Castle died in the 1960s).There are some delicious moments in the film: Ginger Rogers auditioning for her date Fred Astaire by doing "Yama Yama Man" finished with a costume in her parlor. She is imitating the originator of the song, Bessie McCoy. Walter Brennan trying to protect Rogers from Astaire (whose intentions he constantly suspects). Watch him in a tiny stage watering the grass of the lawn, and ignoring Astaire's questions. Oliver noticing the rhythmic swaying of the overhead lamp in her apartment due to the dancing going on upstairs (where Fred and Ginger are dancing). But what is greatest is the feeling of impending doom over the couple. We know Vernon is going to die so that means their success and their life together will end soon.This sense of doom makes "The Storyline of Vernon and Irene Castle" special among the Astaire - Rogers movies - it is a downer. There is no getting away from the loss of happiness Irene Castle suffered, nor the loss of talent the theater and dance globe suffered. The concluding moment of the movie everytime haunted me - Irene and Vernon dancing in spirit together, twirling in a never-ending, eventually disappearing embrace. When I saw the movie the first time, Irene Castle was still alive. The second time she was gone but the two stars were still living. Actually Fred and Ginger are gone too. That final ghostly dance manages to encompass two sets of dance legends, and increases the sadness that surrounds this - to me - greatest of their films.


I LOVE THIS MOVIE!!! First of all, Fred and Ginger are where it's at in my opinion, so my feelings about this film are not all that surprising. I own all the Astaire/Rogers movies, and this one is my second favorite. (the Barkleys of broadway rules) The dancing is nice even if it is not really what we'd expect F&G to be doing. I am a romantic-type-person, so I absolutley love all the "sweethearts" and "darlings" and (possible spoiler here)"Irene, I'm terribly in love w/ you. I never thought I'd fall in love, but I have, and I'm glad I have, and will you please marry me?" That makes me cry each time. 2 KISSES!!! Many pecks. YEA! The end is sooooooo sad. I absolutley hate seeing Ginger cry-it just about breaks my heart. (don't mind me, I'm obsessed.)Anyway-this is a nice movie-SEE IT if you possibly can. I thought it was great.


For their last movie at RKO, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers co-starred in The Storyline of Vernon and Irene Castle. It was the only time the squad ever played true people. It was also the only time that no original score was written for them in a film. And of course it was the only screen death for either of them in their squad history.Vernon Castle and the former Irene Foote met and wed before the beginning of Globe Fight I in what we call the Ragtime era. As an act they popularized ballroom dancing and influenced many another performers including a boy who was doing his own act in vaudeville at the time with his sister. That of course being Fred Astaire with his sister Adele. I'm sure doing this movie gotta have in and of itself been a labor of love for the dancing master.In addition Irene Castle set style for women's clothes and hair. When she slash her hair and place in a short bob, girls everywhere copied her and the style really took off in the Twenties. With the comeback of Globe Fight I, Vernon Castle enlisted and managed to survive the fight only to receive killed in a training accident after Armistice Day in the USA. Irene kept her career going, appearing in many silent movies and she married three more times. She survived her husband by about forty years.The movie gave Ginger Rogers her first really dramatic role. The following year Ginger would receive the ultimate accolade from her peers with a Greatest Actress Oscar for Kitty Foyle. I've a feeling that it was on the strength of this movie that she got cast in Kitty Foyle.The Storyline of Vernon and Irene Castle boasts two powerful helping performances by Walter Brennan and Edna May Oliver. In true life, the part that Brennan has as a family retainer for the Foote family was black. But given how blacks were portrayed back in the day, it's probably just as well a black actor didn't enjoy the part.This was a nice movie for Astaire and Rogers to finish their association with RKO studios. They would squad up again in The Barkleys of Broadway ten years soon for MGM, but that's a entire another story.



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