The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle

The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle

Director: H.C. Potter Cast: Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Edna May Oliver

DVD (Full Frame)

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The last of RKO's Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers vehicles, The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle is also the least typical. At their best playing carefree characters in gossamer-thin musical comedy plotlines, Fred and Ginger seem slightly ill at ease cast as the real-life dancing team of Vernon and Irene Castle. The stripped-to-essentials storyline boils down to novice dancer Irene (Rogers) convincing vaudeville comic Vernon (Astaire) to give up slapstick in favor of "classy" ballroom dancing. With the help of agent Edna May Oliver, the Castles hit their peak of fame and fortune in the immediate pre-World War I years. When Vernon is called to arms, Irene stays behind in the US, making patriotic movie serials to aid the war effort. Vernon is killed in a training accident, leaving a tearful Irene to carry on alone. To soften the shock of Astaire's on-screen death (it still packs a jolt when seen today), RKO inserted a closing "dream" dancing sequence, with a spectral Vernon and Irene waltzing off into the heavens. The film's production was hampered by the on-set presence of the real Irene Castle, whose insistence upon accuracy at all costs drove everyone to distraction -- especially Ginger Rogers, who felt as though she was being treated like a marionette rather than an actress. In one respect, Mrs. Castle had good reason to be so autocratic. Walter, the "severest critic servant" character played by Walter Brennan, was in reality a black man. RKO was nervous about depicting a strong, equal-footing friendship between the white Castles and their black retainer, so a Caucasian actor was hired for the role. Mrs. Castle was understandably incensed by this alteration, and for the rest of her days chastised RKO for its cowardice. As it turned out, it probably wouldn't have mattered if Walter had been black, white, Chicano or Siamese; The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle was a financial bust, losing $50,000 at the box office. Perhaps as a result, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers would not team up again for another ten years.

Product Details

Release Date: 04/25/2017
UPC: 0888574488185
Original Release: 1939
Rating: NR
Source: Warner Archives
Presentation: [Full Frame]
Time: 1:33:00
Sales rank: 35,984

Special Features

Vintage musical short Happily Buried Classic cartoon Puss Gets the Boot

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Fred Astaire Vernon Castle
Ginger Rogers Irene Castle
Edna May Oliver Maggie Sutton
Walter Brennan Walter Ash
Lew Fields Himself
Etienne Girardot Papa Aubel
Janet Beecher Mrs. Foote
Rolfe Sedan Emile Aubel
Leonid Kinskey Artist
Robert Strange Dr. Foote
Douglas Walton Student Pilot
Clarence Derwent Papa Louis
Sonny Lamont Charlie
Frances Mercer Claire Ford
Victor Varconi Grand Duke
Donald MacBride Hotel Manager
Buzz Barton Actor
Joe Bordeaux Actor
Eugene Borden Actor
Neal Burns Actor
Billy Franey Actor
Neal Hart Actor
Dorothy Lovett Actor
David MacDonald Actor
Hugh McArthur Actor
Leonard Mudie Actor
Esther Muir Actor
Frank O'Connor Actor
Bill Patton Actor
Jack Perrin Actor
Kay Sutton Actor
Theodore Von Eltz Actor
Willis Claire Actor
Armand Cortez Actor
Dick Elliott Conductor
John Meredith Army Pilot
Tiny Jones Lady in Revolving Door
Marge Champion Irene's Girl Friend
Roy D'Arcy Actor
Don Brodie Stage Manager
Bruce Mitchell Movie Director
George S. Irving Colonel's Aide
Russell Hicks Colonel
Hal K. Dawson Man in Audience
Adrienne D'Ambricourt Landlady
Allen Wood Messenger at Beach
Elspeth Dudgeon Lady Bolton
Lynton Brent Mechanic
Mary Brodel Girlfriend
Tom Chatterton Announcer
Wesley Giraud Newsboy
Eleanor Hansen Girlfriend
Jacques Lory Cab Driver
Louis Mercier Singer
Frank Mills Stage Manager

Technical Credits
H.C. Potter Director
Victor Baravalle Musical Direction/Supervision
Pandro S. Berman Executive Producer
Mel Burns Makeup
Irene Castle Consultant/advisor,Costumes/Costume Designer,Screenwriter
Robert de Grasse Cinematographer
Perry Ferguson Art Director
George Haight Producer
Willaim Hamilton Editor
Oscar Hammerstein Screenwriter
Argyle Nelson Asst. Director
Hermes Pan Choreography
Walter Plunkett Costumes/Costume Designer
Van Nest Polglase Art Director
David Raksin Musical Arrangement
Richard Sherman Screenwriter
Darrell Silvera Set Decoration/Design
Edward Stevenson Costumes/Costume Designer
Douglas Travers Special Effects
Vernon Walker Special Effects
Dorothy Yost Screenwriter

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle
1. Credits. [1:13]
2. Trifling With Miss Ford. [4:00]
3. Keen On Dogs. [2:54]
4. The Yama Yama Man. [4:18]
5. By The Light Of The Silvery Moon. [3:44]
6. Barbershop Sketch. [3:14]
7. Ham With Mustard. [1:44]
8. Going For A Spin. [3:27]
9. Only When You're In My Arms. [5:46]
10. Waiting For The Robert E. Lee. [5:54]
11. Advance From The Aubels. [4:27]
12. Outrunning The Rent. [3:40]
13. Maggie's Offer. [5:38]
14. Dance Before Dinner. [2:34]
15. Too Much Mustard. [2:14]
16. Fame Montage. [7:55]
17. One Against An Army. [2:43]
18. Hello, Hello, Who's Your Lady Friend. [2:12]
19. Enlistment. [2:25]
20. Flyboy. [1:41]
21. Missouri Waltz. [4:00]
22. War Effort. [4:04]
23. Imminent Reunion. [3:00]
24. Tragedy. [3:25]
25. Forever Dancing. [2:31]
26. Cast List. [3:39]

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