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  • Writer's pictureCarrie Specht

The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle: Review

There’s nothing like an Astaire/Rogers musical to lift the spirits of any humdrum day. With Fred’s easy charm and Ginger’s sassy sex appeal it’s no wonder the public was not quite ready for The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle to be their final turn around the dance floor. Nor would it be.

The story is exactly as the title suggests. It is about a real life, turn of the century dancing act that struggle to find an audience until finally they become a worldwide phenomenon. Originally, this musical biopic was designed to be the ninth and last onscreen pairing of Hollywood’s best-known dancing duo (although high demand brought the couple back together ten years later for the superior project, The Barkleys’ of Broadway). So, anticipation was high, and many thought there could be no better way to cap off a beloved partnership than having the famous duo portray another well-known (and at the time fondly remembered) dance team, The Castles.

In theory it was a great idea, but by no means is this movie the best Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers film by a long shot. However, Fred and Ginger are still Fred and Ginger and The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle is a sweet tale of two renowned artists who are deemed responsible for the popularity of ballroom dancing, and the eventual success of Astaire and Rogers themselves. Both Fred and Ginger personally held the couple in high esteem and credited them for inspiring their own careers and development as dancers.

Of course, regardless of the story itself it’s just plain fun to watch the dynamic team of Astaire and Rogers, so well known to film audiences, reproduce the steps that made their overshadowed predecessors international sensations. Indeed, there is nothing short of pride and joy in their glowing faces as Fred and Ginger effortlessly trip the light fantastic in what must have been the film performances closest to their hearts. In fact, watching the famed artists give such a touching and loving tribute to the talents of their forgotten mentors makes you wish that someone, somewhere, could provide the same tribute for the two of them. But, of course, it simply cannot be. It's impossible to imagine anyone daring to attempt such a feat for who could take on such a challenge? Who could possibly do them justice?

Undoubtedly Fred and Ginger made for a unique combination of artistry and charm that will long hold as the standard by which other screen couples will be compared, dance teams and otherwise. Although far more dynamic together on the dance floor than apart, each went on to lead successful careers without the other by their side, but it is still the films they made together for which they will always be best remembered. Fortunately, for the classic movie fan, even their less than spectacular films are well worth watching, and are likely to remain so for a long time. For even if we forget the names of Astaire and Rogers we will forever remember Fred and Ginger.

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