#78: Swing Time
It was a lazy Saturday afternoon and instead of enjoying the glorious weather, I was inside. My plans to take the country by the horns were foiled and I found myself home, in Brooklyn, maybe a little less than thrilled (I maintain that the metropolitan area is more or less irrelevant when you can be swimming in the lake or eat vegetables straight from a garden not born from toxic soil, meandering down winding roads in the convertible…!)
My companions for the afternoon were the King n’ Queen of the 1930’s silver screen, Fred n’ Ginger. Of course they make me wish I hadn’t traded in my ballet slippers for Converse All-Stars when I was a kid, but moreso, I am positively possessed by Fred Astaire, seriously, this guy is so cool, so charming, so singularly Fred.
So yesterday I set the fan up in the window angled for the best possible “it’s sort if like hanging out outside” breeze and put on Swing Time, maybe the best of the ten films that Fred and Ginger made together as a duo. A high stakes gambler with a heart o’ gold conveniently overcoming all obstacles to land the girl of his dreams– replete with singing and dancing. What’s beguiling about the song and dance numbers in Fred’s movies is that they move the plot line along with force, not merely act as showy ornamentation (booooring).
What’s more is that while Fred certainly didn’t have the most virtuosic or memorable voice, it seemed to perfectly capture the light agileness of his dancing, acting as the perfect complement. This famous number originated in this movie, and also won the Oscar for best song:
According to Hollywood legend, Fred’s first screen test report read, “Can’t sing. Can’t act. Balding. Can dance a little.” Picture business magnate David O. Selznick, who signed Astaire, said at the time, “I am uncertain about the man, but I feel, in spite of his enormous ears and bad chin line, that his charm is so tremendous that it comes through even on this wretched test.”
Also did you know that in his late 70’s, Fred broke a bone while riding his grandson’s skateboard? I’ll say it again, seriously, this guy is so cool.
Anyway, I guess it’s never too late to get out there and learn some new tricks, or, whether or not you float on air, just go out and hit the dance floor for the hell of it.