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The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle (1939)

Approved | | Biography, Drama, Musical | 29 March 1939 (USA)
The story of married couple Irene Castle and Vernon Castle, sensational ballroom dancers prior to World War I.

Director:

H.C. Potter

Writers:

Richard Sherman (screen play), Oscar Hammerstein II (adaptation) | 2 more credits »
Reviews
1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Fred Astaire ... Vernon Castle
Ginger Rogers ... Irene Castle
Edna May Oliver ... Maggie Sutton
Walter Brennan ... Walter
Lew Fields ... 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 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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Did You Know?

Trivia

Jean Sablon refused the part of the French singer played by Louis Mercier because he thought it too small, but his voice is used on the soundtrack. See more »

Goofs

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

Quotes

Irene Castle: I thought you could be a first dancer, a very beautiful first dancer because you are a beautiful dancer but you're so smug and conceited that you can't see any further than your funny nose!
See more »

Connections

Referenced in American Experience: The Battle Over Citizen Kane (1996) See more »

Soundtracks

Chicago
(uncredited)
Written by Fred Fisher (1922)
Sung briefly by chorus
Danced in medley by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers
See more »

User Reviews

Lesser Astaire and Rogers, which means still pretty good
16 November 2000 | by SGriffin-6See all my reviews

This was the last of the Astaire and Rogers films at RKO (they would reunite at MGM for "The Barkeleys of Broadway" [1949]), and represents the studio attempting to find a new way to make the duo popular. It's hard to believe, since the pair have become legends in Hollywood musical history, but by the end of the 1930s audience interest in Astaire and Rogers seemed to be ebbing. Consequently, this film feels *very* different than the rest of their films.

This is not a story of boy meets girl/boy dances with girl/boy loses girl/boy chases and chases girl/boy gets girl and dances with her again. There aren't a ton of the whimsical oddball comic supporting players. And--steady yourself--there are very few full-out major musical numbers. There is no stunning score of songs by Irving Berlin or the Gershwins.

This is because this is a musical biography about the Astaire and Rogers of the previous generation. Hence, the duo are asked not to dance in the manner that made them popular but in the manner that made *the Castles* popular, and to music that *that* couple danced to. Often, when the two dance, we are interrupted by various plot points (ie., cutting to other characters talking instead of keeping the camera on the dancers). One of the few moments where we are able to enjoy them completely is a montage sequence showing the Castles becoming the toast of the nation (with Astaire and Rogers literally dancing across a giant map of the U.S.)

The other major musical number is a solo: Ginger Rogers singing "The Yama Yama Man." Astaire was about to end his contract at RKO, but Rogers still was under contract--so the studio is plainly more interested in trying to build up Rogers for a solo career, and the film indicates this (Rogers' solo, the emphasis on her clothes and hair, etc.) Meanwhile, the film also indicates a growing awareness of the coming war, by dealing with Vernon Castle's enlistment during World War I--one of the first times Astaire had donned a uniform for the cameras (something he would do a *lot* in musicals for the next 5 years).

All in all, it's not what one usually expects from an Astaire and Rogers film, and thus suffers in comparison to "Top Hat" or "Shall We Dance," but still retains a charm and personality nonetheless.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

29 March 1939 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,196,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Victor System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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