Arthur Freed conceptualised this
musical set against the events of the 1947 marriage of Princess Elizabeth to
Philip Mountbatten. Fred Astaire and Jane Powell star as a famous brother-and-sister
Broadway team, Tom and Ellen Bowen who bring their hit show to London at the
time of the Royal Wedding. Tom falls for a lovely English dancer (Sarah Churchill)
while Ellen falls in love with a British nobleman (Peter Lawford). Although
not a top-ranking M-G-M musical (mainly remembered today for Astaire’s remarkable
dance on walls and ceiling), it has an imaginative, very melodic score. For
instance, after the Main Titles ‘Ev’ry Night at Seven’ begins as a clever Gilbert
and Sullivan parody before Fred takes over and makes it an upbeat romantic ballad.
In a reprise Peter Lawford sings this number very creditably.
Burton Lane and Alan Jay Lerner’s
hit numbers include ‘I like New York in June’, ‘How About You’, the lovely ‘Too
Late Now’ and ‘You’re All the World to Me’ (used in Astaire’s wall and ceiling
routine) In another more comic mood is the raucous ‘How Could You Believe Me
When I Said I Loved You, When You Know I’ve Been A Liar All My Life’ sung with
great relish by Astaire and Powell.
Less well-known but charming nonetheless
are ‘Open Your Eyes’, ‘The Happiest Day Of My Life’ sung by Jane Powell. Then
there is Fred’s exotic novelty number ‘I Left My Hat in Haiti’ .
Adding lustre there are a number
of purely instrumental numbers performed by the M-G-M studio orchestra, including
the dreamily romantic ‘Anne’s Picture’ and, full of pomp and circumstance, ‘Before
the Wedding’ plus the more pensive ‘We Can’t Get Married’.
As if all this was not enough there
is one of those Dick Simmons sycophantic interviews with Fred and Jane – thankfully
with tongue-in-cheek. Fred pays tribute to Jane all-round talent as a singer
A real treat.