Saturday, September 18, 2010

Eleanor Powell & Fred Astaire in Broadway Melody of 1940

Here's my redo of my lost post on Broadway Melody of 1940. I must start off by saying that Eleanor Powell is one of my favorite dancers. She is awesome and her dancing ability was phenomenal. If I had to list my favorite female dancers of all time, I think Powell would edge just ahead of Ginger Rogers. Powell made three Broadway films: 1936 with Jack Benny and Robert Taylor and 1938 with Taylor again. But for Broadway Melody of 1940, she got to dance with Fred Astaire for the first and only time. And they made movie magic.

The story has Fred as Johnny Brett and George Murphy as King Shaw, an unsuccessful dance team in New York, looking for their big break. Well, a producer for Broadway star Clare Bennett is looking for a new partner for Clare and sees the boys in action one night. And is immediately impressed with Johnny's dance skills. But through a misunderstanding..Johnny thinks the guy is a bill collector and gives him the name of his partner King, who thens gets the call to become Clare's new partner. And while King is a capable enough dancer, he is no Johnny. Clare becomes more interested in Johnny when she sees him during rehearsal one day and the two hit it off. Which off course creates tension between her, Johnny and King.

But during one night of their Broadway show, King comes in drunk and can't perform. Johnny fills in and does a magnificent job. By the end of the movie, the dance team has become a very successful trio. The dance scenes are electric and the promise of seeing Powell and Astaire together on film doesn't disappoint. Their legendary Begin the Beguine number has to be seen to be believed. It's amazing. Their dance routine was flawless. It's a shame that they didn't make more films together. But at least we have Broadway Melody of 1940 to watch over and over. Powell makes her moves seem so effortless that it is a pure joy to watch. Of course Fred is top notch as usual and this is one of his best dance pairings outside of Ginger. Their dance on the glass mirror floor is truly innovative and unbelievable.

Here are some notable facts about the film:

Planned to be shot in Technicolor, but made in black and white.

It had been reported that Fred Astaire was intimidated by Eleanor Powell because she was one of the few female tap dancers capable of out-performing him.

Follows The Broadway Melody (1929), Broadway Melody of 1936 (1935) and Broadway Melody of 1938 (1937). Another film in the series was planned, "Broadway Melody of 1943" starring Eleanor Powell and Gene Kelly. However, that project was abandoned, and a dance number filmed by Eleanor Powell was edited into Thousands Cheer (1943).

Here is the Begin the Beguine clip from Broadway Melody of 1940:


  1. Eleanor Powell was and is one of the best dancers of all time. She is second to known! Thanks for the profile!!!!

  2. Thank you Monty, for reposting. Sorry for the mishap. :(