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MGM made some of the most lavish musicals of the 40s and 50s, and this one is in keeping with that tradition. Fred Astaire plays Tony Hunter, a washed up film star and dancer, who is asked to take part in a stage musical written by his friends. The great director, writer and actor Jeffrey Cordova (Jack Buchanan) is hired to direct the production, but decides to present it as a modern day Faustian story, and changes it beyond all recognition. As if this wasn’t a big enough problem, Tony also finds it difficult to get along with his leading lady, the ballerina Gabrielle Gerard (Cyd Charisse).

This is a really a rather lovely film, with some genuinely funny moments, due to an excellent cast and supporting cast. (Buchanan is great, as are Oscar Levant and Nanette Fabray, who play Tony’s friends, and the writers of the show.)

Astaire, of course, dances beautifully, as does Cyd Charisse. However, as a personal preference, I would rather have seen more tap dancing, whereas here the dancing is more balletic in style, perhaps to accentuate the incredible talents of Charisse. Nonetheless, the dancing is great; my favourite number being the one which Astaire did near the beginning with the shoe-shine man; it was full of energy and really made me smile.

Overall, I would certainly recommend this film, if you are a fan of musicals or comedy. Definitely one to put a smile on your face!

Year of release: 1953

Director: Vincente Minnelli

Producers: Roger Edens, Arthur Freed, Bill Ryan

Writers: Betty Comden, Adolph Green, Alan Jay Lerner, Norman Corwin

Main cast: Fred Astaire, Cyd Charisse, Oscar Levant, Nanette Fabray, Jack Buchanan

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