Saturday, June 21, 2008

On the Deeper Meanings of Fred Astaire,
Who Always Let His Feet do the Seduction

'One of the first rules of American movies, as any crass Hollywood producer will be pleased to inform you, is that in them there must be someone for whom the audience can root. One roots for Fred Astaire in his movies in good part because he isn’t all that sexy. Unlike Clark Gable, he can’t ever say that frankly he doesn’t give a damn, pick the girl up in his arms, and head off up the impressive staircase to get on with the business of delayed rape (Gone with the Wind). Unlike Gary Cooper, he can’t win the girl through his manly reticence and unflinching courage in the face of danger (High Noon). Unlike Cary Grant, he can’t bring off the dazzling talk and brute handsomeness that wins through over steady affection (His Girl Friday).Fred Astaire had none of these things going for him. He was this little guy, skinny, with big ears, a long chin, and too wide a forehead, whose only chance is to get the girl onto the dance floor, where he will let his feet do his seduction for him.'
--An excerpt from a book in progress by the always stylish Joseph Epstein, one of our favorite writers. You can review earlier mentions of him here.


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