Royal Wedding

Royal Wedding, Colour, 1951, Fred Astaire, Jane Powell.

I know – I know – I’m at it again – single-handedly destroying the raison d’être of BlueCastle… but – well – this one has Fred Astaire — and frankly – what purpose in existence isn’t worth destroying for Fred Astaire???



Royal Wedding is a 1951 MGM musical comedy film starring Fred Astaire and Jane Powell, directed by Stanley Donen; music by Burton Lane and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner.
It was released as Wedding Bells in the United Kingdom.

The story is set in London in 1947 at the time of the wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Philip Mountbatten, Duke of Edinburgh. Astaire and Powell are siblings in a song and dance duo, echoing the real-life theatrical relationship of Fred and Adele Astaire. I think this is the only time that one of Fred Atsaire’s characters has a sibling… interesting non?

I LOVED this movie. Originally slated to have June Allyson, and then Judy Garland, playing Ellen Bowen; Jane Powell eventually filled the slot and she does it magnificently. I honestly don’t think it would have been better with either of the other actors.


Powell and Astaire have a really good sibling-type chemistry which just works so well – and Fred Astaire??? Well he is always spectacular: he dances on the ceiling, waltzes with a coat rack, and does elegant duet dances with all the gals. The comedy is light, the plot is simple, and although a good portion of the tunes, unmemorable: the dancing is gorgeous.

ASIDE: I am afraid I’m not a huge fan of Jane Powell’s sopranos… but I cite a previous disastrous school experience involving choirs, eisteddfods, uniforms and a horribly smug classmate as my general reason for not appreciating sopranos in general – so you’ll have to excuse my lack of impartiality in the area. 

My favourite number (barring the dance with the coat rack) – is Astaire and Powells’ dance number, ‘How Could You Believe Me When I Said I Love You When You Know I’ve Been a Liar All My Life’ slated as one of the longest titles of a song in film history. It is just so perfectly and comedically timed that I laugh out loud every time I see it – and Powell is hilariously good – and so funny that I’ve always wondered why she wasn’t utilised more in the whole comedy/movie arena.

I have included it – because it is amazingly clever and it makes me smile not matter what…
Interestingly enough – I kept having these flash-backs to ‘A Couple of Swells’ in Easter Parade – which was released in 1948, as opposed to Royal Weddings’ 1951… but I still think
‘How Could You Believe Me When I Said I Love You When You Know I’ve Been a Liar All My Life’ comes up trumps.

Quotes as always, are hilarious:

‘Miss Ellen seems quite taken doesn’t she?’
‘This will probably be one of those long affairs that drag on a whole weekend!’

Chester: ‘Marriages are very healthy, sir. You see, married men live much longer than bachelors.’
Tom Bowen: ‘If that’s true, they’re only trying to outlive their wives so they can be bachelors again.’


‘He says he’s very blue, except for his eye, which is black…’

‘Do you love me or don’t ya?’
‘No I don’t!’
‘Quit stalling – I want a die-rect answer!

‘Well aren’t ya happy?’
‘You know I am’
‘Well, lets not kill it with improvement…’

James Ashmond: Do I look like a gentleman?
Tom Bowen: You look like a banker.
James Ashmond: But do I look like a gentleman?


There is a fascinating video and webpage regarding how Astaire’s Dancing on the Ceiling number was achieved — it is well worth a look.

Also, worth a look, is the Hatrack Dance, Astaire dances, fairly early on in the film. It is spectacular and completely showcases Astaire’s rather unique ability to make inanimate objects seem entirely animate.*

* Did you know that the hatstand that Fred Astaire used in the dance number was actually purpose-built and cost $900? Apparently they had tried it with a number of commercial ones – but they just didn’t cut it – so props made one especially for the movie. Some sources note that the hatstand promptly disappeared once filming had been completed…so —–> who would want to steal a hatstand?

quel mysterious non?



And costumes are darling – I think i want one of everything that Powell wears…

Royal Wedding is one of several MGM musicals that lapsed into public domain on their 29th anniversary due to failure to renew the copyright registration – so you can watch it for free – here.

gratuitous dance gif…

happy days y’all


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