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The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle (1939)

Approved | | Biography, Musical, Romance | 29 March 1939 (USA)
This is the film version of Vernon and Irene Castle, sensational ballroom dancers prior to World War I.

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Writers:

(screen play), (adaptation) | 2 more credits »
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1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
Walter
Lew Fields ...
Etienne Girardot ...
Papa Aubel
Janet Beecher ...
Mrs. Foote
Rolfe Sedan ...
Emile Aubel
Leonid Kinskey ...
Artist
Robert Strange ...
Dr. Foote
Douglas Walton ...
Student Pilot
Clarence Derwent ...
Papa Louis
Sonny Lamont ...
Charlie
Frances Mercer ...
Claire Ford
Victor Varconi ...
Grand Duke
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Storyline

In 1911, Vernon Castle, minor comic in a stage revue, pursues the leading lady to a New Jersey beach...where, instead, he meets stage-struck Irene Foote. A few misadventures later, they're married; at Irene's insistence, they abandon comedy to attempt a dancing career, which attempt only lands them in Paris without a sou. Fortunately, agent Maggie Sutton hears them rehearse and starts them on their brilliant career as the world's foremost ballroom dancers. But at the height of their fame, World War I begins... Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

29 March 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La grande farandole  »

Box Office

Budget:

$1,196,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$1,120,000 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Victor System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Opening credits: In a fabulous and beloved era, near enough to be warmly remembered, two bright and shining stars, VERNON and IRENE CASTLE, whirled across the horizon with the hearts of all who loved to dance. This is their story. See more »

Goofs

Walter, the Foote's and later the Castle's servant/ factotum, was in reality a black man. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Deep in My Heart (1954) See more »

Soundtracks

Hello! Hello! Who's Your Lady Friend
(uncredited)
Written by Harry Fragson (1914)
Lyrics by Worton David and Bert Lee
Performed at benefit by Fred Astaire, Emmett O'Brien, and soldier chorus
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A Musical with a Plot
7 June 2001 | by (NH -- the First primary State) – See all my reviews

"The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle" was the last of the major Fred Astaire - Ginger Rogers musicals of the 1930s. And it was different in many ways from the others, namely that the story was more important than the songs and dances.

Really, is "Top Hat" with its emphasis on production numbers linked by a thin plot of mistaken identity really a lot different than today's action movies with endless car chases and pyrotechnic special effects linked by a very thin story about a hit man or the earth getting hit by a comet? Sorry about that analogy, I'll take the great musicals over the "actions" any day! "Yo" is not great dialog.

My parents tell me that at the time, this film was panned by the critics and did not make it as big at the box office. Could it be that everyone wanted another "Top Hat" or Swing Time?" I enjoyed those lovely musicals with their big production numbers. Could it be the emphasis on Vernon's patriotic service with the RAF in World War I might have offended many people's "isolationism" in 1939 about the growing World War II?

Fred and Ginger wanted to do a movie with more substance, and they pulled it off in grand style. The songs and dances were nice, with only one very brief "production number." But they did a great job of showing how two young entertainers met, fell in love, became famous, and made a sacrifice in the war. In 1911, young Irene Castle "discovers" Vernon, a second-rate vaudeville comic when she sees him dancing at an evening outing. She shows Vernon her not ready for prime time dance number "The Yama Yama Men." The two fall in love and marry, and with a lot of self-taught dance technique, suddenly hit the big time in France by dancing their famous "Castle Walk." The Castles' fame grew and grew and they toured Europe and America, and made a lot of money through merchandising things like Irene Castle hats. Long before Michael Jordan's basketball shoes. In fact, you will see entries for both Vernon and Irene here in the Movie Database. Irene went on to star in a few silent films, but never made a "talkie." You'll be glad to know that Irene served as an advisor for the Rogers -Astaire film, enhancing its accuracy.

As always, they had some great character actors. I never knew Walter Brennan was ever that young. Fred and Ginger really showed a depth to their acting. From there, of course, Ginger moved into dramatic movies, including her Oscar-winning "Kitty Foyle." I think Fred's later movies matured too.

In short, I think you will like this movie, but don't expect to see a clone of "Swing Time."


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