Royal Wedding (1951)

“This is a pretty box of pickles!”

Royal Wedding Poster

Synopsis:
A successful brother (Fred Astaire) and sister (Jane Powell) dancing team head to London just as a royal wedding is about to take place. Once there, Astaire falls in love with a dancing ingenue (Sarah Churchill), while Powell pursues romance with a lord (Peter Lawford) she met on board the ship.

Genres:

Review:
This innocuous MGM musical — loosely inspired by Fred Astaire’s dancing partnership with his sister Adele, as well as the upcoming real-life nuptials of Princess Elizabeth and Philip Mountbatten — is perhaps best known as the film that features Fred Astaire dancing on the ceiling and walls (see TCM’s article for more information on how these nifty effects were achieved). Judy Garland was originally slated to co-star with Astaire, but due to her infamous health concerns was replaced by Powell, who (fortunately) does a fine job portraying Astaire’s spunky younger sister, and more than keeps up with Astaire during their dance numbers together — especially during the wonderfully named, energetically performed “How Could You Believe Me When I Said I Loved You When You Know I’ve Been a Liar All My Life?” (purportedly the longest-titled song in MGM’s musical history). Unfortunately, the storyline itself is negligible at best, and Astaire’s romantic interest — Churchill, the daughter of Winston himself — is utterly bland. The primary reason to check this one out is for the fun musical-dance sequences.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Astaire’s hatrack dance
    Royal Wedding Hat Rack
  • Astaire’s fun ceiling-and-wall dance number
    Royal Wedding Wall Dance
  • Astaire and Powell performing “How Could You Believe Me When I Said I Loved You When You Know I’ve Been a Liar All My Life?”
    Royal Wedding How Could You

Must See?
No, but the three musical numbers listed above make it worth a one-time look. As a public domain title, this one is available for free viewing on www.archive.org.

Links:

One Response to “Royal Wedding (1951)”

  1. Not a must.

    A mildly diverting musical, nicely directed by Stanley Donen – and it’s certainly colorful enough. However…in spite of his considerable fame, Alan Jay Lerner (writer/lyricist) always has his sappy side in clear evidence – and, personally, I don’t think his work is generally among the best or most innovative in musical theater. But Burton Lane’s score is consistently easy on the ear…although Powell’s vocal solos all kind of sound the same. The highlight numbers are mentioned in the assessment (although I would add ‘I Left My Hat in Haiti’ as something particularly lively – and it sounds like it may have been an influence during the writing of ‘West Side Story’).

    Musical fans who don’t demand a whole lot from a musical may not mind this all that much (since the highlights may suffice). But it’s still a bit of a slog.

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