Sunday, July 31, 2016

The Belle Of New York (1952)

Starring Fred Astaire, Vera-Ellen, Marjorie Main, Keenan Wynn, Alice Pearce
Directed by Charles Walters
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

The playboy son of a wealthy charity organizer falls for one of her beautiful employees, and tries to prove his worth by taking on a number of honest jobs.

This isn't one of Astaire's better musicals, because despite Vera-Ellen's reputation as one his more talented dance partners, the picture's nowhere near as fun as their previous pairing, Three Little Words.  Their routines here, staged by Robert Alton, are certainly impressive, and Astaire's footwork is memorably paired with special effects to show him dancing atop some very high places.  However the love story uniting the routines isn't as strong as past or future efforts, and the screenplay doesn't quite properly showcase the affable charm of Astaire present in his best pictures.  The film's standout sequence is Astaire's performance of 'I Want To Be A Dancin' Man," probably the best selection from Harry Warren and Johnny Mercer's score, and simply presents Astaire delivering his craft in a number ideally suited to him.

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