Film (1937)

Musique: George Gershwin
Paroles: Ira Gershwin
Livret: Allan Scott • Ernest Pagano
Production à la création:

Shall We Dance, released in 1937, is the seventh of the ten Astaire-Rogers musical comedy films. The idea for the film originated in the studio's desire to exploit the successful formula created by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart with their 1936 Broadway hit On Your Toes. The musical featured an American dancer getting involved with a touring Russian ballet company. In a major coup for RKO, Pandro Berman managed to attract the Gershwins – George Gershwin who wrote the symphonic underscore and Ira Gershwin the lyrics – to score this, their second Hollywood musical after Delicious in 1931.

Peter P. Peters (Fred Astaire), an American ballet dancer billed as "Petrov", dances for a ballet company in Paris owned by the bumbling Jeffrey Baird (Edward Everett Horton). Peters secretly wants to blend classical ballet with modern jazz dancing, and when he sees a photo of famous tap dancer Linda Keene (Ginger Rogers), he falls in love with her. He contrives to meet her, but she is less than impressed. They meet again on an ocean liner traveling back to New York, and Linda warms to Petrov. Unknown to them, a plot is launched as a publicity stunt "proving" that they are actually married. Outraged, Linda becomes engaged to the bumbling Jim Montgomery (William Brisbane), much to the chagrin of both Peters and Arthur Miller (Jerome Cowan), her manager, who secretly launches more fake publicity.

Peters and Keene, unable to squelch the rumor, decide to actually marry and then immediately get divorced. Linda begins to fall in love with her husband, but then discovers him with another woman, Lady Denise Tarrington (Ketti Gallian), and leaves before he can explain. Later, when she comes to his new show to personally serve him divorce papers, she sees him dancing with dozens of women, all wearing masks with her face on them: Peters has decided that if he cannot dance with Linda, he will dance with images of Linda. Seeing that he truly loves her, she happily joins him onstage.

George Gersh­win – who had be­come fa­mous for blend­ing jazz with clas­si­cal forms – wrote each scene in a dif­fer­ent style of dance music, and he com­posed one scene specif­i­cally for the bal­le­rina Har­riet Hoc­tor. Ira Gersh­win seemed de­cid­edly less ex­cited by the idea; none of his lyrics make ref­er­ence to the no­tion of blend­ing dif­fer­ent styles of dance (such as bal­let and jazz), and As­taire was also not en­thu­si­as­tic about the con­cept.

The score of Shall We Dance is prob­a­bly the largest source of Gersh­win or­ches­tral works un­avail­able to the gen­eral pub­lic, at least since the ad­vent of mod­ern stereo record­ing tech­niques in the 1950s. The movie con­tains the only record­ings of some of the in­stru­men­tal pieces cur­rently avail­able to Gersh­win afi­ciona­dos (al­though not all the in­ci­den­tal music com­posed for the movie was used in the final cut.) Some of the cuts arranged and or­ches­trated by Gersh­win in­clude: "Dance of the Waves", "Waltz of the Red Bal­loons", "Grace­ful and El­e­gant", "Hoc­tor's Bal­let" and "French Bal­let Class". The in­stru­men­tal track "Walk­ing the Dog", how­ever, has been fre­quently recorded and has been played from time to time on clas­si­cal music radio sta­tions.

Nathaniel Shilkret, mu­si­cal di­rec­tor for the movie, hired Jimmy Dorsey and all or part of the Dorsey band as the nu­cleus of a fifty-piece stu­dio or­ches­tra in­clud­ing strings. Dorsey was in Hol­ly­wood at the time work­ing the "Kraft Music Hall" radio show on NBC hosted by Bing Crosby. Dorsey is heard solo­ing on "Slap That Bass," "Walk­ing the Dog" and "They All Laughed."

Gersh­win was al­ready suf­fer­ing dur­ing the pro­duc­tion of the mo­tion pic­ture from the brain tumor that was shortly to kill him, and Shilkret (as well as Robert Rus­sell Ben­nett) con­tributed by as­sist­ing with or­ches­tra­tion on some of the num­bers.

Musical numbers
Her­mes Pan col­lab­o­rated with As­taire on the chore­og­ra­phy through­out and Harry Losee was brought in to help with the bal­let fi­nale. Gersh­win mod­eled the score on the great bal­lets of the 19th cen­tury, but with ob­vi­ous swing and jazz in­flu­ences, as well as poly­tonal­ism. While As­taire made fur­ther at­tempts—no­tably in Ziegfeld Fol­lies (1944/46), Yolanda and the Thief (1945) and Daddy Long Legs (1955)—it was his rival and friend Gene Kelly who would even­tu­ally suc­ceed in cre­at­ing a mod­ern orig­i­nal dance style based on this con­cept. Some crit­ics have at­trib­uted As­taire's dis­com­fort with bal­let (he briefly stud­ied bal­let in the 1920s) to his oft-ex­pressed dis­dain for "in­vent­ing up to the arty".

"Overture to Shall We Dance":was written by George Gershwin in 1937 as the introduction to his score for Shall We Dance. Performance time runs about four minutes. "The opening [number] is in Gershwin's best big-city style; propulsive, nervous, bustling with modern harmonies; it might have easily been developed into a full-scale composition except that time was growing short."[3]
"French Ballet Class" written in the style of the galop.
"Rehearsal Fragments": In a brief segment which seeks to motivate the film's core dance concept, Astaire illustrates the idea of combining "the technique of ballet with the warmth and passion of this other mood" by performing two ballet leaps, the second of which is followed by a tap barrage.
"Rumba Sequence": Astaire watches a flip book showing a brief orchestral rumba danced by Ginger Rogers and Pete Theodore, choreographed by Hermes Pan; it is Rogers' only partnered dance without Astaire in the ten-film series of Astaire-Rogers musicals. The increasing complexity and chromaticism in Gershwin's music can be detected between music for this sequence and Gershwin's earlier effort at a rumba, the Cuban Overture, written five years earlier. Scored for chamber orchestra.
"(I've Got) Beginner's Luck": A brief comic tap solo with cane where Astaire's rehearsing to a record of the number is cut short when the record gets stuck.
"Waltz of the Red Balloons" written in the style of a valse joyeaux.
"Slap That Bass": In a mixed race number unusual for its time, Astaire encounters a group of African-American musicians holding a jam session in a spotless, Art Deco-inspired ship's engine room. Dudley Dickerson introduces the first verse of the song whose chorus is then taken up by Astaire. The virtuoso tap solo which follows is the first substantial musical number in the picture, and can be seen as a successor to the "I'd Rather Lead A Band" solo from Follow the Fleet (1936)—which also took place aboard ship—this time introducing a vertical element to the predominantly linear choreography, some pointedly dismissive references to ballet positions, and a middle section similarly without musical accompaniment but now imaginatively supported by rhythmic engine noises. George Gershwin's color home-movie footage of Astaire rehearsing this number was discovered only in the 1990s.[4]
"Dance of the Waves": written in the style of a barcarolle.
"Walking the Dog": This was only published in 1960 as "Promenade" to accompany two pantomimic routines for Astaire and Rogers. This is the only part of the score besides Hoctor's Ballet to be published for performance in the concert hall, thus far. Scored for chamber orchestra. (Not all of the Walking the Dog sequence heard in the movie is in the published score, the ending of the scene features the themes following each other in a round (music).)
"Beginner's Luck" (song): Astaire delivers this song to a non-committal Rogers, whose skepticism is echoed by a pack of howling dogs intervening at the close.
"Graceful and Elegant": another waltz written by Gershwin, this one written in the style of the pas de deux (the first of two pas de deux in the score)
"They All Laughed (at Christopher Columbus)": Ginger Rogers sings the introduction of Gershwin's now-classic song and is then joined by Astaire in a comic dance duet which begins with a ballet parody: Astaire in a mock-Russian accent invites Rogers to "tweeest" but after she pointedly fails to respond the pair revert to a tap routine which ends with Astaire lifting Rogers onto a piano.
"Let's Call the Whole Thing Off": The genesis of the joke in Ira Gershwin's famous lyrics is uncertain: Ira has claimed the idea occurred to him in 1926 and remained unused. Astaire and Rogers sing alternate verses of this quickstep before embarking on a partnered comic tap dance on roller skates in a Central Park skating rink. Astaire uses the circular form of the rink to introduce a variation of the "oompah-trot" he and his sister Adele had made famous in vaudeville. In a further dig at ballet, the pair strike an arabesque pose just prior to toppling onto the grass.
"They Can't Take That Away from Me": The Gershwins' famous foxtrot, a serene, nostalgic declaration of love;one of their most enduring creations and one of George's personal favorites—is introduced by Astaire. As with "The Way You Look Tonight" in Swing Time (1936), it was decided to reprise the melody as part of the film's dance finale. George Gershwin was unhappy about this, writing "They literally throw one or two songs away without any kind of plug". Astaire and Rogers said individually during their lives the song was one of their favourite personal songs, and they rescued it for The Barkleys of Broadway in (1949), his final reunion with Rogers, creating one of their most admired essays in romantic partnered dance, and it remains the only occasion on film when Astaire permitted himself to repeat a song he had performed in a previous film. George Gershwin died two months after the film's release, and he was posthumously nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song for this song at the 1937 Academy Awards.
"Hoctor's Ballet": The film's big production number begins with a ballet featuring a female chorus and ballet soloist Harriet Hoctor whose specialty was performing an elliptical backbend en pointe, a routine she had perfected during her vaudeville days and as a headline act with the Ziegfeld Follies. Astaire approaches and the pair perform a duet to a reprise of the music to "They Can't Take That Away From Me." This number runs directly into:
"Shall We Dance/ Finale and Coda": After a brief routine for Astaire and a female chorus, each wearing Ginger masks, he departs and Hoctor returns to deliver two variations on her backbend routine. Astaire now returns in top hat, white tie and tails and delivers a rendition of the title song; urging his audience to "drop that long face/come on have your fling/why keep nursing the blues" and follows this with a zestful half-minute tap solo. Other musical nods are interwoven referencing the previous ballet sequences. Finally, Ginger arrives on stage, masked to blend in with the chorus whereupon Astaire unmasks her and they dance a brief final duet. This routine was referenced in the 1999 romantic comedy Simply Irresistible.

While the film – the cou­ple's most ex­pen­sive to date – ben­e­fits from qual­ity com­edy spe­cial­ists, op­u­lent art di­rec­tion by Car­roll Clark under Van Nest Pol­glase's su­per­vi­sion, and a time­less score which in­tro­duces three clas­sic Gersh­win songs, the con­vo­luted plot and the cu­ri­ous ab­sence of a ro­man­tic part­nered duet for As­taire and Rogers – a hall­mark of their mu­si­cals since The Gay Di­vorcee (1934) – con­tributed to their least prof­itable pic­ture to date.

As­taire was no stranger to the Gersh­wins, hav­ing head­lined, with his sis­ter Adele, two Gersh­win Broad­way shows: Lady Be Good! in 1924 and Funny Face in 1927. George Gersh­win also ac­com­pa­nied the pair on piano in a set of record­ings in 1926. Rogers first came to Hol­ly­wood's at­ten­tion when she ap­peared in the Gersh­wins' 1930 stage mu­si­cal Girl Crazy.

Shall We Dance was named at the sug­ges­tion of Vin­cente Min­nelli, who was a friend of the Gersh­wins. Min­nelli orig­i­nally sug­gested "Shall We Dance?" with a ques­tion mark, which dis­ap­peared at some point.

Shall We Dance earned $1,275,000 in the US and Canada and $893,000 else­where, re­sult­ing in a profit of $413,000, less than half the pre­vi­ous As­taire-Rogers film. It was nei­ther a box of­fice nor a crit­i­cal suc­cess, and was taken as an in­di­ca­tion that the As­taire-Rogers pair­ing was slip­ping in its au­di­ence appeal.

Aucun dossier informatif complémentaire concernant Shall We Dance

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Version 1

Shall We Dance (1937-05-Film)

Type de série:
Théâtre: *** Film (*** - ***)
Durée :
Nombre :
Première Preview : Inconnu
Première: 07 May 1937
Dernière: Inconnu
Mise en scène : Mark Sandrich
Chorégraphie :
Producteur :
Star(s) :
Avec: Fred Astaire (Peter P. "Petrov" Peters), Ginger Rogers (Linda Keene), Edward Everett Horton (Jeffrey Baird), Eric Blore (Cecil Flintridge), Jerome Cowan (Arthur Miller), Ketti Gallian (Lady Denise Tarrington), William Brisbane (Jim Montgomery), Harriet Hoctor (herself), Dudley Dickerson (singing crew member in Slap That Bass), Charles Coleman (policeman in Central Park (uncredited))

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