A MAN AND HIS ‘DOGS’

dogs, Slang. The feet: My dogs are killing me!  fantasy, n.  A play of the mind; imagination; fancy; a picture existing only in the mind. –World Book Dictionary

A footnote to the World Book definition of fantasy: it is personified, in my view, by one man — fittingly so, because beyond his pictures he still dances in the mind, as timeless as imagination….no less real than the Hollywood from which such flights of fancy emanated and stars were born. That ethe-real man is Fred Astaire, the pictures were his movies, and this day is his birthday (May 10, 1899).

Astaire’s “dogs” may have been what carried him across the dance floor with Ginger Rogers in his arms, but it was his persona that took us with him. I like to think that what Santa Claus embodied for children, Fred Astaire embodied for my parent’s generation as teenagers/young adults, epitomizing easy grace and the allure of dreams more enticing than any toy that Santa could promise.  No other hoofer in film history even comes close to capturing his magic….which is why he survives his and my parent’s generation, just as any great artist lives on in what he or she creates.

In my favorite scene from my favorite Astaire-Rogers film (SWING TIME, 1936), professional dancer Astaire comes to New York and, after a chance street encounter with Rogers doesn’t go well, he follows her to the dance studio where she is an instructor. Pretending to be a novice, he botches the dance lesson. She insults him and is fired. As she is leaving the studio….

Of course, many elements must come together to produce movie magic, and SWING TIME had the good fortune to combine the talents of the stars with those of a great director (George Stevens), a fine supporting cast (including Eric Blore, seen in the above clip), and one of the best composer/lyricist teams of the Golden Age (Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields). In addition to the ‘dance lesson’ song PICK YOURSELF UP, their outstanding score includes A FINE ROMANCE, NEVER GONNA DANCE, and this love song:

On this May 10 celebration, let’s end appropriately with this:

 

 

 

 

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16 comments on “A MAN AND HIS ‘DOGS’

  1. scifihammy says:

    Movie magic indeed. 🙂 Always a pleasure to watch these two together and the ease with which Fred Astaire sings and dances 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Don Frankel says:

    You know I’ve heard and more than once that song writers wanted Fred Astaire to sing their songs. Not Sinatra as he might change the lyrics on them or any of the other big time singers of the era but Astaire. If you listen to the respect and the tenderness with which he handles the words it makes sense.

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    • mistermuse says:

      Exactly right, Don. To quote from one of my Astaire record album covers: “In creating these songs, it almost seemed as if five of the undisputed masters in the field–Irving Berlin, Ira and George Gershwin, Dorothy Fields and Jerome Kern–were stimulated by their assignments to out-do themselves in the quality of their work. And the reason was undoubtedly Fred Astaire himself. What songwriters loved about him was that, despite his admitted vocal limitations, he brought to each song a personal involvement that never distorted either the meaning or the melody.”

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  3. I always loved the quote, “Ginger Rogers did everything the great Fred Astaire did backwards and in high heels.” 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  4. arekhill1 says:

    I ask you, Sr. Muse, in your capacity as a semi-official curator of proclaimed national and world-wide days, should Astaire’s birthday be celebrated as White Guys Who Can Dance Day?

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  5. mistermuse says:

    Sounds good to me. I’d also proclaim Oct. 2o and March 17 as Black Guys Who Could Dance Like No White Guys Did And Become Legendary Day (the birthdays of the fabulous Nicholas Brothers, Fayard and Harold).

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  6. The kind of art that Astaire personified is one (of only a few, mind you) reason I wouldn’t mind returning to that era…

    Liked by 1 person

  7. mistermuse says:

    My sentiments exactly, Cynthia. But at least we still have Turner Classic Movies to go to whenever it’s worthwhile returning to that era, such as today when TCM is running a number of old Astaire films, such as CAREFREE at three P.M. Eastern Daylight Savings Time (SWING TIME was on this morning).

    Liked by 1 person

  8. That’s our cable channel 42 here in Maine….ROYAL WEDDING is on now…thanks for the tip!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. mistermuse says:

    You’re more than welcome. ROYAL WEDDING (for me) doesn’t have the magic of the Astaire-Rogers films (or even DAMSEL IN DISTRESS with Astaire-Joan Fontaine, which was on earlier), but it’s still worth a view or two. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. BroadBlogs says:

    That man is sure light on his feet!

    If someone made a list comparing slang for dogs and cats, wonder what we would find?

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Awesome scenes. When my daughter was about 4 years old she LOVED these old movies. We would snuggle on the couch and watch Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Gene Kelly, and the rest. Great dancing and so much romance. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse says:

      It’s good to expose children to what was good about the good old days, so that they realize there’s a lot more to life than just the current culture. The more expansive their upbringing, the more well-rounded they will be when they’re on their own. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  12. mistermuse says:

    If you’re a lucky dog , BroadBlogs, what you find would be the cat’s meow, otherwise you’re barking up the wrong tree. That’s a short list, but if I made it longer, it would be so bad, we might fight like cats and dogs. 😦

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