Royal Wedding (1951)

There is something rather ridiculous about a royal wedding, such as Swedish Princess Madeleine’s last Saturday. Oh, not the wedding itself. I definitely endorse wedding as an institution and a tradition, and I also acknowledge anyone’s right to do it in pomp and style when the situation so requires. And I guess all the circus and media coverage around it is sort-of necessary as well.

The problem, rather, is that the occasion seems to be the signal for every single person in Sweden to have an opinion, whether warranted or not. The royalists, of course, tell us what is right and wrong, just as the anti-royalists tell us why it is all wrong. The newspaper editorials are full of opinions. The stand-up comedians cannot pass up on a chance for below-the-belt punches. And the Swedish tabloids are having a field day.

The film Royal Wedding, with Fred Astaire as the dancer Tom Bowen, has a lot less to do with royalty than the title may suggest. The film is set in 1947, with the wedding of Princess Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth II) as a backdrop to the story.

Fred Astaire dancing with a hatstand in Royal Wedding (1953)

A tragic piece of trivia connected with this movie is that it marked the end of Judy Garland’s career at MGM. Due to mental illness and drug problems, Garland was often absent from rehearsals. As a consequence she was fired from MGM and made a half-hearted suicide attempt. She was replaced by Jane Powell in the role of Tom’s sister and dance partner Ellen.

Royal Wedding has been criticized for a stupid plot and bad dialogue. Well, that may be true, but is not of very much consequence. Quite frankly, I cannot think of a single musical that I would want to watch again because of the story. The point here is the music and the dancing. And with Astaire the dancing can only be top quality. The music is not bad either.

So, forget about the story and all the world’s royal weddings. Sit back, relax, and enjoy one of the all-time greatest artists of musical cinema. If you are unfamiliar with Astaire, you can do much worse than this for a first acquaintance.

This film is best enjoyed as a lesson in dancing creativity.

Fred Astaire dancing on the ceiling in Royal Wedding (1953)

Royal Wedding
Download link
Year: 1951
Running time: 1 h 32 min
Directors: Stanley Donen
Stars: Fred Astaire, Jane Powell
Image quality: Good
Resolution: Medium (720×540)
Sound quality: Good
Best file format: MPEG2 (2.9 G)