7.0/10
2,032
35 user 15 critic

The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle (1939)

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

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Prime Video

ON DISC
1 nomination. See more awards »

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

Comedy | Musical | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A Navy sailor tries to rekindle a romance with the woman he loves while on liberty in San Francisco.

Director: Mark Sandrich
Stars: Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Randolph Scott
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

A successful but constantly-feuding husband and wife musical comedy team threatens to break up when the wife entertains an offer to become a serious actress.

Director: Charles Walters
Stars: Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Oscar Levant
Carefree (1938)
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Musical | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A psychiatrist agrees to hypnotize his friend's girlfriend in order to convince her to accept his proposals of marriage, but she ends up falling for the psychiatrist instead.

Director: Mark Sandrich
Stars: Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Ralph Bellamy
Comedy | Musical | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

An American woman travels to England to seek a divorce from her absentee husband, where she meets - and falls for - a dashing performer.

Director: Mark Sandrich
Stars: Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Alice Brady
Comedy | Musical | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A budding romance between a ballet master and a tap dancer becomes complicated when rumors surface that they're already married.

Director: Mark Sandrich
Stars: Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Edward Everett Horton
Roberta (1935)
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Musical | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

In Paris, a man clueless about fashion suddenly inherits his aunt's dress shop, while his bandleader friend reunites with his old flame.

Director: William A. Seiter
Stars: Irene Dunne, Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Musical | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

An aviator and band leader who is always getting his group fired for his flirtatious behavior with the female guests soon finds himself falling for an engaged woman.

Director: Thornton Freeland
Stars: Dolores del Rio, Gene Raymond, Raul Roulien
Swing Time (1936)
Comedy | Musical | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A performer and gambler travels to New York City to raise the $25,000 he needs to marry his fiancée, only to become entangled with a beautiful aspiring dancer.

Director: George Stevens
Stars: Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Victor Moore
Adventure | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

Zian Servettaz is a dedicated mountain man. His Italian-born wife Bianca does not adjust well to his mountain village in France, and to the ever life-threatening dangers presented by his mountain guiding and climbing.

Director: Louis Daquin
Stars: Irène Corday, André Le Gall, Marcel Delaître
Drama | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

When he learns his days are numbered old count Hervé de Kéraudren decides to hide in a secret alcove and to die there, just to annoy his heirs. As a result of his body not being found the ... See full summary »

Director: Georges Franju
Stars: Pierre Brasseur, Pascale Audret, Marianne Koch
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Music | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Lady Alyce Marshmorton must marry soon, and the staff of Tottney Castle have laid bets on who she'll choose, with young Albert wagering on "Mr. X". After Alyce goes to London to meet a beau... See full summary »

Director: George Stevens
Stars: Fred Astaire, George Burns, Gracie Allen
Top Hat (1935)
Comedy | Musical | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

An American dancer comes to Britain and falls for a model whom he initially annoyed, but she mistakes him for his goofy producer.

Director: Mark Sandrich
Stars: Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Edward Everett Horton
Edit

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 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
Edit

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 »
Edit

Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

29 March 1939 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

La grande farandole See more »

Edit

Box Office

Budget:

$1,196,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$1,120,000

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$705,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Victor System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
Edit

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 »


Soundtracks

The Darktown Strutters' Ball
(uncredited)
Written by Shelton Brooks (1917)
French lyrics by Elsie Janis
Performed by Louis Mercier, voice dubbed by Jean Sablon
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
An added poignancy with the years
24 October 2005 | by theowinthropSee all my reviews

Do people watch Astaire and Rogers films for more than the pleasure of their dancing and singing? Both performed the dialog parts in their musical comedies well too, but most people think of their movies as a series of opportunities to see great dance numbers and to hear music by Gershwin, Kern, Berlin, Porter, or Youmans. I doubt if they recall the plots.

"Flying Down To Rio" deals with a traveling orchestra that assists in advertising a hotel in Rio De Janairo. Nobody recalls that, but they recall Youmans' melody "Orchids in the Moonlight" and his dance (for Astaire and Rogers) "The Carioca". They also remember the big production number of the young women on the airplane wing ("Ah, Rio, Rio by the Sea - Oh!"). Except for that, few recall the hero is Gene Raymond and the heroine is Delores Del Rio. The running gag of the three agents of the bank that is trying to sabotage the new hotel (and who are only seen as top hatted shadows) may be recalled - but it isn't really worth recalling.

In the later musicals the same problems exist. The story of "Gay Divorcée" (originally "Gay Divorce" on Broadway) is how Rogers hires Eric Rhodes to be found with her at a resort hotel so her husband can have grounds for divorce. The Porter score including "Night and Day" and "The Continental" was good - but who recalls the plot (though Rhodes is very funny as the perpetual hired "other man" for instant divorces. The final irony of the plot (almost like a flat joke's punch line) is that Eric Blore knows a nasty secret about the husband, who (for his own reasons) does not want a divorce.

The series did try to tie the couple down to more than frivolous plots dealing with mistaken identities or fake personalities. FOLLOW THE FLEET and CAREFREE tried to have plots dealing with sailors putting on a show and with a psychologist falling in love with a patient who was engaged to his best friend (Ralph Bellamy, of course). Both were amusing, but rather slapdash. CAREFREE had a curious concluding moment, when a hypnotized Rogers is literally slapped out of her state of hypnosis. Rogers looks like she has been the victim of domestic violence as she is married.

By 1939 Astaire and Rogers were tired of the series, and wanted to go their separate ways. The public was also getting tired of the series. So finally they were given a property that reversed the formula. Instead of the music and dancing ornamenting a bare plot, the plot incorporated the music and dance by telling the story of the greatest ballroom dance team of the first half of the 20th Century, Vernon and Irene Castle.

I have often felt that had Vernon Castle lived beyond 1917 into the period of talkie movies, and stayed married to Irene, they might have been in some of the Astaire Rogers films (the choreography of two rival couples dancing would have been fascinating). Vernon might have played a mentor or rival or father to Fred. But it wasn't to be. As the film shows Vernon (who was English-born) enlisted in the Air Corps in 1917, and was killed in a freak accident saving the life of a pilot he was training (the scene in the film is quite savage in showing the crash).

In the four years (1913 - 1917) when they swept the world with their mastery of dancing, Vernon and Irene Castle became leading celebrities. The film follows the slow steps to fame they took, including getting stuck for awhile in Paris because Vernon was hired only to be a comic actor, not to be a dancer. It shows how Edna Mae Oliver (as their agent and friend) gets them the breaks they deserve, and how they end as figures of social change (ballroom dancing regained popularity, and they did create not only fashions for men and women but also "the Castle Walk" dance step). That this all happened in four years suggests what their impact would have been if they lived into the 1940s together (Irene Castle died in the 1960s).

There are some delightful moments in the film: Ginger Rogers auditioning for her date Fred Astaire by doing "Yama Yama Man" complete with a costume in her parlor. She is imitating the originator of the song, Bessie McCoy. Walter Brennan trying to protect Rogers from Astaire (whose intentions he constantly suspects). Watch him in a small scene watering the grass of the lawn, and ignoring Astaire's questions. Oliver noticing the rhythmic swaying of the overhead lamp in her apartment due to the dancing going on upstairs (where Fred and Ginger are dancing). But what is best is the feeling of impending doom over the couple. We know Vernon is going to die so that means their success and their life together will end soon.

This sense of doom makes "The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle" unique among the Astaire - Rogers films - it is a downer. There is no getting away from the loss of happiness Irene Castle suffered, nor the loss of talent the theater and dance world suffered. The concluding moment of the film always haunted me - Irene and Vernon dancing in spirit together, twirling in a never-ending, eventually disappearing embrace. When I saw the film the first time, Irene Castle was still alive. The second time she was gone but the two stars were still living. Now Fred and Ginger are gone too. That final ghostly dance manages to encompass two sets of dance legends, and increases the sadness that surrounds this - to me - best of their films.


26 of 32 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 35 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Stream Comedy Titles With Prime Video

Explore popular comedy titles available to stream with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed