Jane Powell

Royal Wedding

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Royal Wedding (1951) became an instant classic thanks not only to the top-shelf words and music of Alan Jay Lerner and Burton Lane, but also the exemplary acting and dancing of the luminous cast. The action was uncannily derived from two disparate real-life events, the November 20, 1947, marriage of Philip, Duke of Edinburgh to Princess Elizabeth and -- undoubtedly hitting closer to home -- the union of Fred Astaire's sister Adele to British Lord Charles Cavendish. Additionally, the story concerns the brother/sister dance act of Tom and Ellen Bowen -- played by Fred Astaire and Jane Powell -- who traipse off to the Motherland to perform. But even the best-laid plans go awry when Ellen Bowen falls in love with nobleman Lord John Brindale (Peter Lawford), while Tom Bowen becomes infatuated with Sarah Churchill (Anne Ashmond), the daughter of Sir Winston. The movie produced some of Astaire's most familiar work -- especially the immortal "dancing hat rack" choreography accompanying "Sunday Jumps" and the equally vivid "soft shoe on the ceiling" shots used during "You're All the World to Me." Understandably, Powell's hoofing isn't as fancy as Astaire's, but she provides vocals to a couple of irresistible numbers including the lovely melodic ballad "Too Late Now," which garnered the artist an Academy Award nomination in the Best Song category. An expanded CD edition of the original motion picture soundtrack was released during the mid-'90s, highlighted by the film's complete score alongside (for the very first time) the aforementioned solos and a trio of Astaire/Powell duets on the songs "Ev'ry Night at Seven," "I Left My Hat in Haiti," and "Open Your Eyes." Concluding the disc is a previously unavailable promotional interview with the co-stars, hosted by radio and television personality Dick Simmons. Interested parties are encouraged to locate the Rhino Handmade CD pressing, which is limited to 2,500 copies and is further augmented by a generous liner notes book with stills and copious text, making it nothing short of definitive.

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