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Eleanor Powell and tap


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#16 sidwich

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Posted 08 October 2007 - 03:12 PM

As to Powell's being "butch," I don't see it. I do see that her line and her movements are not what we typically thinking of as "feminine." In the duet with Astaire, he seems cool; she seems tomboyish. In both clips she has no sexual allure whatsoever. She's not helped by a dress with wide, pointed shoulders; this contrasts unfavorably with Astaire's elegant and casual white suit. (In Rosalie, she's dressed even worse -- a short, wide, flounced tutu like a vaudeville cigarette girl's or cartoon French maid, with fluffy material around her wrists.)


I always rather chalked this up to MGM's general difficulty in dressing any woman who didn't fit into a Lana Turner-style glamour girl mold. Judy Garland seemed stuck in the most hideous costumes sometimes, and Eleanor Powells was even less conventionally "pretty" than Garland.

#17 papeetepatrick

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Posted 08 October 2007 - 04:01 PM

I always rather chalked this up to MGM's general difficulty in dressing any woman who didn't fit into a Lana Turner-style glamour girl mold. Judy Garland seemed stuck in the most hideous costumes sometimes, and Eleanor Powells was even less conventionally "pretty" than Garland.


Maybe the pretty-doll-glamour style was somewhat already there, but 'Rosalie', at least, is 1937, and Lana Turner was not known yet. I was actually myself surprised that it is that old (I'd always thought of Powell as a 40s star), but it does remind me in the style of production number of some of those in 'The Great Ziegfeld' one year earlier (the comparison goes no further than big production). Judy Garland definitely often in hideous costumes, as in 'Strike Up the Band'.

#18 dirac

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Posted 08 October 2007 - 06:07 PM

This sort of thing is so subjective, it just ends up being about personal taste and 'what turns you on', which we had enough trouble with on the 'beautifully proportioned' male and female ballet dancers. I actually find Astaire handsome in a classy-gent way when he was very young, but no promise in the lower body. Gene Kelly, Irish, was also Italian from top to bottom, or even if he wasn't, you get the idea of the way I see that hunk.


Up to a point. You could argue about Astaire, but Kelly is objectively sexy. He may or may not be to oneís taste, but I donít understand how anyone, even someone who doesnít care for him, could say he has no sex appeal. Although interestingly the big romantic duets in Kellyís movies tend to be washouts; he was best alone, or when he was paired with Judy Garland, a very appealing mover but not a dancer per se.

All of which reminds me that I really, really need to see The Pirate again, even if Garland was not in peak shape and Cole Porter was temporarily out to lunch.

I don't find either of them to be the least bit sexy


Iím disposed to agree, personally; Arlene Croce said that Astaire and Rogers together were a powerfully erotic vision or words to that effect, but I donít see it at all. Rogers did make him into an acceptable romantic leading man in the movies. It might have happened without her; it might not have.

I would characterize Powell as a 30s star primarily.

Shearer, Garbo and Crawford all had figures that were far from perfect, and Adrian did a masterly job of disguising their bad points and highlighting their good ones. (In fact, Iíd say that Powell had a better figure, technically, than any of the above ladies.) I think he dressed Powell a couple of times, I wonder how he did with her.

#19 papeetepatrick

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Posted 08 October 2007 - 06:14 PM

All of which reminds me that I really, really need to see The Pirate again, even if Garland was not in peak shape and Cole Porter was temporarily out to lunch.


Good idea! I love Garland in 'Mack the Black' and Kelly looks as fabulously sensual as he did in anything.

#20 sidwich

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Posted 10 October 2007 - 12:53 PM

Shearer, Garbo and Crawford all had figures that were far from perfect, and Adrian did a masterly job of disguising their bad points and highlighting their good ones. (In fact, Iíd say that Powell had a better figure, technically, than any of the above ladies.) I think he dressed Powell a couple of times, I wonder how he did with her.


Adrian did the dresses in "Broadway Melody of 1940," among others. I don't think that the shoulder pads worked quite as well on Powell as they did on Crawford.

Maybe the pretty-doll-glamour style was somewhat already there, but 'Rosalie', at least, is 1937, and Lana Turner was not known yet.


Turner wasn't a star yet, but she was already on the MGM lot and in the infamous MGM schoolroom with Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland doing things like the "Andy Hardy" movies by the late 1930s.

#21 dirac

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Posted 10 October 2007 - 01:07 PM

Turner wasn't a star yet.


Respectfully, sidwich, I suggest that was what papeetepatrick meant by Ďnot known.í :)

But I think that Cyd Charisse's ballet numbers were pretty awful too, and she was trained for it.


They sure were.

#22 papeetepatrick

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Posted 10 October 2007 - 02:02 PM

But I think that Cyd Charisse's ballet numbers were pretty awful too, and she was trained for it.

They sure were.


What do you think of Cyd's work in 'Black Tights'? I remember liking it, and also Moira Shearer and Zizi Jeanmaire too, but that was before I hit the higher standards of Ballet Talk and tried to remember if what I had seen in days of yore in ballet performances was as good as I once thought. I think I even remember thinking Cyd was the best. So tell me what I need to know on this one. Loved that movie.

#23 volcanohunter

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Posted 05 January 2008 - 12:25 PM

I'm very happy to see that four of Eleanor Powell's movies will be released as double-feature DVDs in April. Up until now only Broadway Melody of 1940 had been available.

Broadway Melody of 1936/Broadway Melody of 1938
http://www.amazon.co.../dp/B0011FDVA4/

Born to Dance/Lady Be Good
http://www.amazon.co.../dp/B0011FDV9K/

These films will also be included in Classic Musicals from the Dream Factory, vol. 3, together with Hit the Deck, Deep in My Heart (the Sigmund Romberg biopic), Kismet, Nancy Goes to Rio and Two Weeks with Love.
http://www.amazon.co.../dp/B0011FDVEK/

#24 dirac

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Posted 07 January 2008 - 02:50 PM

Thank you for the heads up, volcanohunter. (When I think of how difficult it used to be to see many of these old titles, and now look.)

#25 pherank

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Posted 04 June 2013 - 08:40 PM

I'm not sure if this has been linked to before, but this sequence from That's Entertainment III is "fascinating" not only for the tremendous dancing, but also for the camera and stage choreography (you will see what I mean). A split-screen view of Eleanore Powell in Fascinating Rhythm:

http://www.dailymoti...ehind-the_music

#26 emilienne

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Posted 04 June 2013 - 08:50 PM

Katharine Hepburn's famous comment about the Astaire-Rogers pairing, "He gives her class and she gives him sex," while simplified, is to the point here.


Sorry, to clarify, the quote is not from Hepburn (though it sounds like it could be) but from Arlene Croce in the first issue of Ballet Review.

#27 dirac

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Posted 04 June 2013 - 09:13 PM

The quote is attributed to Hepburn, emilienne, although the wording varies. One of the more famous remarks in Hollywood history. I haven't read Croce's original article, although I assume a lot of it made it into "The Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers Book," a useful little volume.

Thank you for pulling up this thread, pherank.

#28 sandik

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Posted 04 June 2013 - 09:26 PM

The documentary footage is fascinating -- I hadn't realized how much of that number was filmed in real time. I love her tap style!

#29 pherank

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Posted 04 June 2013 - 10:14 PM

The documentary footage is fascinating -- I hadn't realized how much of that number was filmed in real time. I love her tap style!


You can see why they bothered to record the techniques used - amazing stuff. I have to wonder if it wouldn't have been easier to do in pieces rather than in one continuous performance.

#30 sandik

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Posted 05 June 2013 - 12:04 AM

I think it would have been much easier to do in a series of short takes, rather than one long one, but the didn't make that decision. The "behind the scenes" view reminded me of a complex military campaign.


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