Royal Wedding (1951)

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Directed by Stanley Donen
Written by Alan Jay Lerner
1951/USA
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
First viewing/Netflix rental

 

How could I ever close the door/ And be the same as I was before?/ Darling, no, no I can’t anymore/ It’s too late now — lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner

This has a couple of Fred Astaire’s most famous dance numbers and a couple of good songs.  The story sort of lets the whole thing down.

The brother and sister team of Tom (Astaire) and Ellen (Jane Powell) Bowen are just closing their hit Broadway show.  They get an offer to perform in London while the town is abuzz with the royal wedding of Princess Elizabeth with Prince Philip.  Ellen is quite the flirt and has about a dozen guys on a string.  This all changes when she meets playboy Lord John Brindale on their Atlantic crossing.

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Tom tries to be a strict task master but Ellen wants to spend all her time with John.  He meets cute with Anne Ashmond (Sarah Churchill) on the street and their relationship picks up when she tries out for the show.  She turns out to be engaged to an American she hasn’t heard from in awhile.  With Keenan Wynne in a dual role as the Bowen’s American manager and his own English twin brother.

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This is the one with Astaire’s iconic dancing with a coatrack and dancing on the ceiling numbers.  It also has a couple of standards by Burton Lane and Allen Jay Lerner. Unfortunately, the parts in between the numbers is so much dead weight.  The John-Ellen relationship has zero conflict and Sara Churchill is so bland I just couldn’t care less about the Tom-Anne romance.  Keenan Wynne makes a pretty pathetic upper-crust Englishman.

Judy Garland had been slated for the role of Ellen but was fired from the film for “personal problems”.  Her contract with MGM ened shortly thereafter.

Royal Wedding was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Music, Original Song for “Too Late Now.”

Clip – “How Could You Believe Me When I Said I Love You When You Know I’ve Been a Liar All My Life” – longest song title in Hollywood history

Bonus track: Judy Garland singing “Too Late Now” on her TV show

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