Saturday, September 03, 2016

Big Bad Blog Video Theater-Fred Astaire

Artist:Fred Astaire
Song:Cheek To Cheek
Album:The Early Years At RKO

A few years ago I featured an album that Fred Astaire recorded in the 50s with Oscar Peterson and the Verve Records house band. Those recordings are recommended but what about the original versions of the songs Astaire performed with Ginger Rogers in the 30s. Well, they are available on CD but the quality can be questionable. Of course Cheek To Cheek is from the 1935 classic film Top Hat. Astaire wasn't very happy to be paired with Ginger Rogers at first because he had danced for years with his sister Adele. And Ginger wasn't a dancer. But RKO convinced Astaire to continue the partnership. They let him handle the choreography himself with Hermes Pan and that kept him happy. Top Hat was the fourth of nine films Astaire and Rogers starred in at RKO in the 30s. Astaire thought the script for Top Hat was too similar to The Gay Divorcee. His character was too objectionable. Director Mark Sandrich told Astaire that the script would be rewritten. But he also told Astaire that Irving Berlin wrote all the songs for Top Hat. So that convinced Astaire to do the movie. Sandrich directed four of the Astaire Rogers films. And he also directed the 1942 film Holiday Inn before his 1945 death from a heart attack. Sandrich was probably the best director to work with Astaire. Top Hat was still criticized for being too similar to The Gay Divorcee. It didn't matter. The dance numbers made it a huge box office hit. And Cheek To Cheek topped the charts. The RKO recordings are available on CD from various labels. But Turner Classic Movies owns the RKO library. And at one time they licensed the recordings to Rhino. But that ran out and a couple of years ago TCM signed a new deal with Sony Masterworks. The 2CD The Early Years At RKO was released in 2013. It has all the RKO recordings including Cheek To Cheek. This contains the best quality recordings. Here's Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers performing Cheek To Cheek in the 1935 film Top Hat.


  1. Didn't Fred Astaire and Ginger Rodgers dislike each other? I have heard for years they did not like each other at all. And finally went their own ways.

  2. They got along fine or I don't think they could have made nine films together. But when they were successful, RKO didn't want Astaire dancing with anyone else. That's why he left RKO to dance with Rita Hayworth etc. Fred and Ginger reunited for the 1949 film The Barkleys Of Broadway.

  3. Thank-you Frank. I guess I just heard idle gossip concerning them. Your right nine films together is proof they must have gotten along at least on the set. Those films are something else, from another time and era.