FILMS… Gotta Sing! Gotta Dance! Gotta be Fred Astaire!

#1930s #1940s #1950s #1970s


Movie memories from Fred Astaire…


Timeless singing and dancing performances with Fred Astaire and friends and a touch of Ginger.



Confession time, I only remember watching Fred Astaire in a few of his later films and those were all in glorious Technicolor. But after learning more about this multi-talented performer – as he’s a famous singer, dancer and actor – and seeing more of his career for the TCM’s Mad About Musicals course, I discovered many more of his movies. So I changed my post to review this topic for the blogathon, as I also learned he’s the man behind many musical numbers I love.

But first five of my favourite of his moments from the movies. Please note the first four songs were debuted by the man himself. Along with a wee bonus one.


Easter Parade (1948)

Easter Parade | A Couple of Swells (Fred Astaire, Judy Garland) | Warner Bros. Entertainment, Warner Bros. Entertainment

Kicking things off, I couldn’t not add We’re a couple of swells, a duet with Judy Garland from Easter Parade. I saw it as part of my recent course and I adore this duo’s fun performance. If things had been different this might not have featured in this list on all things Astaire. Gene Kelly – the original male lead – broke his ankle just before filming. But Kelly’s loss is our gain as we get to see this wonderful Hollywood pair teamed up together. This a film I haven’t seen.. and now want to, as I’m intrigued to read more on the plot behind it.

With another rendition of this song from Julie Andrews and Sammy Davis Jnr. And with even more comic effect from British comedians Morecambe and Wise with of all people, Peter Cushing.  Lyrics are here as written by Irving Berlin and include;

We’re a couple of swells
We stop at the best hotels
But we prefer the country far away from the city smells
We’re a couple of sports…


Swing Time (1936)

The Way You Look Tonight, Antonio

The Way You Look Tonight, one of my all-time favourite songs features in Astaire’s Swing Time. With Astaire singing it to Ginger Rogers. It was written by Dorothy Fields and Jerome Kern and covered by everyone from Frank Sinatra to Tab Hunter. And Bing Crosby with Dixie Lee to Edward Woodward (yup The Wicker Man (1973) himself sang it, I kid you not).  And it’s a lovely soppy Oscar Winning ballad with lyrics such as…

Some day, when I’m awfully low,
When the world is cold,
I will feel a glow just thinking of you
And the way you look tonight.
It also features in My Best Friends Wedding (1997), Father of the Bride (1991) and on TV with Chris Pratt singing it in Parks and Recreation (2009-15).

The Band Wagon (1953)

The Band Wagon – Fred Astaire (1953), Alexis Bolbarán

I didn’t know until recently, that the song, That’s Entertainment featured in a musical called The Band Wagon. And with a performance here which just exudes fun and enthusiasm from all concerned. This singing act performing this catchy number with Astaire are Jack Buchanan, Nanette Fabray, and Oscar Levant. With lyrics from Howard Dietz including…

The clown with his pants falling down
Or the dance that’s a dream of romance
Or the scene where the villain is mean
That’s entertainment!

And this song I remember accompanying many a movie montage.  And you might also recognise this track as sung by Judy Garland or Fred Astaire with Gene Kelly’s adaptation with some additional lyrics in That’s Entertainment Part II (1976).


Shall We Dance (1937) and The Barkleys of Broadway (1949)

Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers – They Can’t Take That Away From Me, katandbaby

I  LOVE this song! I first heard They Can’t Take That Away From Me from … another confession… a man I confused with Fred Astaire for years, Frank Sinatra. The song appears in two of Astaire’s films. With him singing the song in Shall We Dance and dancing with Rogers to the tune of this song in The Barkleys of Broadway. This was debuted by Astaire in the former film in 1937. The song was written by George Gershwin and with lyrics by his brother, Ira. Lyrics include…

The way you wear your hat
The way you sip your tea
The memory of all that
No, no, they can’t take that away from me

The song was nominated for an Oscar and also appears in many a movie and has also been covered by Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett and Shirley Bassey.


The Towering Inferno (1974)

Finally, I admit the first film I saw him in was… in his Oscar-Winning role as Harlee Claiborne, in.. surprise surprise… the all-star disaster movie, The Towering Inferno (1974). Here he played a lovable con-man who falls for Jennifer Jones as Liselotte.  I had to check those characters names out, as she was always remembered as that woman in the white frock with the cat.

And my sister sobbing at the post-fire outcome of this pair’s storyline. I won’t say if this was with joy or sadness. But I will say she had a soft spot for Astaire as that “little old man”. Sorry for being a bit vague.  The film I watched in the 1980s, had two out of then three Realweegiemidget crushes – The Two Roberts, Vaughn and Wagner – in this film my attentions were elsewhere.

So now thanks to that combination of the TCM Musicals course and this blogathon I’m keen to discover the film story behind the first four songs. So looking forward to reading these blogathon contributions. . Until I know which to go for first… I might just rewatch The Towering Inferno.

Sadly, I couldn’t find a clip of Fred Astaire with Jennifer Jones on the dance floor as they dance to Maureen McGovern’s We May Never Love Like That Again. And where (I’m sure) he gives a timeless wee sing-along performance. As he timelessly dances – to his only Oscar nomination – like there’s no tomorrow…


The Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers blogathon 2018, No 38

This review features in the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers blogathon run by In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood and Love Letters to Old Hollywood. Other reviews with this cast include Fred Astaire in The Towering Inferno. Judy Garland stars in my Mesmerising MGM Musical Moments Post and in I Could Go On Singing.  Garland’s biopic Life with Judy Garland also features here. Ginger Rogers TV performances in Aaron Spelling TV Series are featured HERE.




10 thoughts on “FILMS… Gotta Sing! Gotta Dance! Gotta be Fred Astaire!

  1. You have such treats in store once you see the films some of these numbers belong to! I haven’t seen The Towering Inferno yet, but the other films listed here rank among my very favorites. And I’m so glad you picked “The Way You Look Tonight.” That’s my favorite song and I love Astaire’s version of it the best. “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” is also perfection.

    Thanks for contributing to our blogathon!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This was fun hearing your discovery of Fred through his fabulous career. Due to the number of great composers who had him introduce their songs I think of Fred as the voice of the 20th century – at least the first half.

    PS: Sadly, Fred did not win the Oscar for The Towering Inferno (I saw it when it was first released!). The Academy gave the Supporting Actor Oscar to DeNiro for Godfather II.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. If someone wanted to torture me, they should make me choose my favorite Fred Asatira performance. I just can’t – that man was perfect! From your list, I love Couple of Swells and That’s Entertainment, but I haven’t watched The Towering Inferno yet. And it’s nice to know you were also part of the Mad about Musicals couse – wasn’t it great?

    Liked by 1 person

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