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Fred and Ginger on Roller Skates
In the 1937 RKO Pictures film, "Shall We Dance", Fred Astaire and Ginger
Rogers perform one of their dance routines on roller skates.
Buy the Poster at AllPosters.com (11 x 17 inches)
Buy the Movie at Amazon.com (VHS)
This 1937 movie was the seventh Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers film made by
RKO Pictures. The movie does not have
a roller skating theme, but Fred and Ginger perform
one of their dance numbers on roller skates
(see "Skating Sequences" below).
You have to sit through a lot of this musical comedy, to see
only a few minutes of skate dancing.
I am not the world's biggest fan of flashy Hollywood musicals,
but I found it worthwhile to sit through this
one, just to see Fred and Ginger
dancing in New York City's
Central Park wearing roller skates.
I wonder if those scenes were really filmed
in New York City? Probably not, but it is
still an enchanting sequence.
Plot of the Movie
The publicity manager of a female musical comedy star
spreads a rumor that she is
romantically involved with a world famous male ballet dancer,
who happens to have a secret crush on her.
The publicity manager arranges for the two to travel on the same ship
across the Atlantic.
Bios of the Stars
only one skating sequence in this film, and
it lasts about 6 minutes.
Fred and Ginger perform the musical number
"Let's Call the Whole Thing Off"
on roller skates in New York's Central Park.
It was Ginger's idea to try the number on skates,
dancing in them as if they were
tap shoes, with the metal wheels acting as taps (this would
never work with modern polyurethane wheels).
Fred and Ginger end the roller dance by doing an ungraceful
"bellyflop" into the grass.
They should have read
Allan Wright's Article before trying that!
The skate dancing is toward the middle/end of the film.
First Fred and Ginger skate arm in arm
(a bit shaky on their wheels) into Central Park with lots of
other skaters around. Then they sit on a bench, and he
talks, she talks, he sings, she sings. Finally they get
up off the bench and start skating around a small outdoor rink.
First they skate arm in arm, and then they do some simple
waltz-type skate dancing, frontwards and backwards. They don't
do any sky-high jumps or throw each other
around in this number, and the only spins are some simple circle
stops. But they do some really
terrific jazz tap skate dancing.
Those steps did not look so easy to me.
Another thing that interested me in this film were their skates.
They wore old fashioned "skate key" skates -
the kind that clip onto your shoes in the
front, and are secured around the ankle by some kind of a strap.
I would not trust those skates to stay connected to my feet
through all of that tap dancing!
Another "Shall We Dance" Movie
The popular and highly rated 1995 Japanese film,
"Shall We Dance" took its
name from the 1937 Rogers/Astaire movie. The 1995
movie is about a Japanese businessman who signs up
for ballroom dancing lessons because he develops a romantic crush on
a dancing instructor, and then learns some interesting things about himself.
The Japanese "Shall We Dance" move was remade in 2004 with Richard
Gere and Jennifer Lopez. Note that the 1937 movie is NOT the
same film as the 1995 and 2004 movies, and the 2004 film is a
Miramax English-language remake of the 1995 Japanese film.
The 1995 version of the movie is available at Amazon.com:
1995 Shall We Dance
(starring Koji Yasusho and Tamiyo Kusakari)
Roller Skating in the Movies
Skating in Africa
Skating in Asia
Skating in Europe
Skating in Oceania
Skating in The Americas
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