Astaire & Rogers Ultimate Collector's Edition (Flying Down to Rio / The Gay Divorcee / Roberta / Top Hat / Follow the Fleet / Swing Time / Shall We Dance / Carefree / The Story of Vernon and Irene

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Product Description

Studio: Warner Home Video Release Date: 10/24/2006

2006 marks the arrival of five Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers films (Flying Down to Rio, The Gay Divorcee, Roberta, Carefree, and The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle) on DVD after the first five were released in 2005. The big package is this Astaire & Rogers Ultimate Collector's Edition, which contains all 10 films plus a CD, a bonus DVD with the documentary Astaire and Rogers: Partners in Rhythm, press-book replicas, and some other material. If you want the big package with the extra stuff but already bought the five films in 2005, you can get the Astaire & Rogers Partial Ultimate Collector's Edition, which includes everything except the actual discs of those first five films. Or, if you only want the five new films, pick up Astaire & Rogers Collection, Vol. 2 as a bookend to Astaire & Rogers Collection, Vol. 1.

The Astaire-Rogers films mix light romantic comedy (usually centered around mistaken identities and ending, inevitably, in blissful wedding promises) with elegant dinner wear and surreal sets intended to transport '30s audiences away from the Depression to such locales as Rio, Paris, and Venice. The two stars are also aided by a recurring stable of RKO players such as Edward Everett Horton (master of the double-take), Eric Blore, and Helen Broderick. And then there's that sensational dancing set to great songs by the likes of Irving Berlin, George and Ira Gershwin, and Jerome Kern, numbers that are not merely entertaining but also innovative for their time in that they reveal character and advance the plot. Add it all up, and you have a recipe for an irrepressible joie de vivre that practically defines the movie musical.

Flying Down to Rio (1933) headlined Dolores Del Rio and Gene Raymond, but it was the fourth- and fifth-billed stars who would rewrite cinematic history. Astaire and Rogers had limited screen time, but were still able to establish many of the trademarks of their later films. The heart of the film is "The Carioca," a company dance extravaganza in which they take the floor together for the first time; their eyes meet and their foreheads touch. Their dance lasts only a few minutes, but it was the highlight of the film and audiences wanted more. The Gay Divorcee (1934) is their best early picture, a loose adaptation of Astaire's stage show, 'The Gay Divorce.' The only song retained for the movie is Cole Porter's smash hit "Night and Day," which is the setting for a sublime pas de deux between Fred and Ginger. The closer is the sprawling 17-minute ensemble number "The Continental." Roberta (1935) was a step backward, with too much time spent on 1930s Parisian fashion and the romance between top-billed Irene Dunne (who gets the best Jerome Kern ballads, "Yesterdays" and "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes") and Randolph Scott. But as the second-banana couple Astaire and Rogers still get a tap battle, a romantic duet, and plenty of comic banter.

With a score by Irving Berlin, Top Hat (1935) is most famous for two numbers, Astaire's definitive tuxedo setting "Top Hat, White Tie, and Tails" and the feathery duet "Cheek to Cheek." But other joys include Astaire's "Fancy Free" declaration, "Isn't It a Lovely Day," and the grand finale "The Piccolino." Follow the Fleet (1936) changes the pace a bit, with Astaire playing a sailor, and it suffers from making him and Rogers the second-banana couple to the dull Randolph Scott and Harriet Hilliard. But it still has plenty of laughs and some classic Irving Berlin numbers, including "Let Yourself Go," which Rogers sings before she and Astaire compete in a dance contest; a Rogers solo tap number; "I'm Putting All My Eggs in One Basket," their best comic dance. The pi¨¨ce de r¨¦sistance is "Let's Face the Music and Dance," a show within a show in which the pair dons their customary evening formals. Effortlessly flowing from pantomime to song to dance, this sublime piece of storytelling is one of the series' defining moments. Maybe their most enjoyable picture, Swing Time (1936) features the set-piece "Pick Yourself Up," in which Rogers "teaches" Astaire to dance before they break into a spectacular number; the farewell ode "Never Gonna Dance," and the Oscar-winning "Just the Way You Look Tonight," from the team of Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields.

Shall We Dance (1937) has a complex plot that has Astaire and Rogers actually getting married before the final credits roll, and turns George and Ira Gershwin's brilliant "They Can't Take That Away from Me" into a heartbreaking ode. Other great songs include "Slap That Bass," "They All Laughed," and "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off," unforgettably performed on roller skates. The eighth and ninth entries in the series tried some different approaches, with the underrated Carefree (1938) more of a comedy vehicle for Ginger (yet still including some fine dances and Irving Berlin songs as well as their first onscreen kiss) and The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle (1939) portraying the pair as historical dancing stars and using a score of turn-of-the-century standards. The Barkleys of Broadway (1949) is the oddity, reuniting the stars 10 years after their last RKO picture when Judy Garland had to be replaced due to health problems. It's trademark MGM: splashy colors, Fred in a gimmicky solo number (playing sorcerer's apprentice to a line of unoccupied shoes), Oscar Levant providing his usual dynamic pianism and acerbic personality, and a score that is at its best when it borrows songs from a previous generation (including the big ballroom number set to "They Can't Take That Away from Me"). The film falls short of their best work, but serves as a fond remembrance of the most glorious partnership in film history. --David Horiuchi

Customer Reviews:

  • Fabulous!
    I particularly enjoyed watching the DVDs I ordered, Astair & Rogers, Vol.I. Astaire & Rogers Ultimate Collector's Edition. As I watched this pair, I realized how great they were. I was too young at the time their movies were shown in my hometown and never really was interested in what I thought were ancient movies! So now I play them over and over again! I thoroughly enjoy watching Fred and Ginger each time. The ballroom dancers I see on TV today can't compare to this FABULOUS pair....more info
  • Dazzling and Beautiful
    Ibelieve everything has been said already of Rogers and Astaire.The two together on the screen is magical and entertaining.Funny whitty beautiful.The music by some othe greatest composer such as Berlin costumes by the best of Hollywood is a treat for the eyes.You will not be dissapointed,when you are feeling low his will make you sore to the sky.Get it....more info
  • Still classic after all these years
    It is odd to be asked to review something which is sold because it is a legitimate classic. These people were stars then because of obvious talent and skill, and the years haven't changed that. I got these for my spouse because she like to show them to her 90 year old mother, but they rather obviously both enjoyed them as did I. Actors in that period didn't have technology to back them up and had to do it all themselves, and it shows. ...more info
  • Terrible experience - twice!
    Two times I ordered this product for my daughter for Christmas, and both times it came with 5 dvd disks missing. I have ordered many books and other products from other vendors through amazon, and have been very pleased with my experience overall. This was my first time ordering from Amazon itself, and I am very reluctant to order from them again. Felt I was due more than a refund after this fiasco! ...more info
  • The only Fred & Ginger set you need
    Terrific package, great film transfers, lots of extras plus a music CD. A must for any Astaire buff....more info
    THIS is one of my favorite collections. I never tire of watching the
    best dance team in the history of the movies. HARRY STOLBERG
    I'm reccomending this set to all of my friends....more info
  • A set of classics
    If you enjoy Fred & Ginger, you need their entire set of these classics. The dialogue can be a little corny at times, but so was yours when you were young. They practiced for hours, and it shows....more info
    Twice I ordered this set for my wife, and each time the package arrived with DVDs missing from the set! All the containers were there, but as many as five (5) DVDs were gone. What a joke. I gave up and purchased the set at Borders. Does Amazon care? Never heard from them....more info
  • This DVD will make a great christmas gift
    This is for my hubby for Christmas so it's all wrapped awaiting the big 25th day of December. I know he will enjoy the DVD's....more info
  • "Let's Face the Music and Dance"
    Having seen these wonderful films on the big screen in repertory theaters in the '70s, I was delighted to be able to acquire them on videotape in the '80s. After 20 years of watching those acceptable transfers, what a thrill it is at last to be able to see them magnificently restored in this set. In just 2 or 3 years, this box has become far more affordable as well, so I paid about one-third of its original retail price. Imagine, 10 restored gems plus welcome extras for less than $5 per DVD!...more info
  • It's AMAZING!
    It's AMAZING! I loved it. The compilation is excellent and the extras are too. Really recommend it....more info
  • Original creativity still impresses
    I wanted to discover the original movies complete and uncut, and I am very pleased that this set gave me the opportunity. There is a spontaneous freshness and credibility here that is rarely re-captured in later Hollywood musicals. Coming so soon after the invention of sound, the performers are clearly inspired and exhilirated by the possibilities. The reproductions are excellent and valuable additional material is provided. Like all original creations, these works are timeless. Don't miss them!...more info
  • Ginger and Fred Paint The Screen
    This is one supurb movie box set-every component of this package is tremendous. The movies are not only pure nostalgia but stand up as pure entertainment in any age. Crisp and vivid reproductions bring to life Fred and Ginger along with all of the beautiful art decho and white backdrops. The extras are outstanding and include a music cd and movie release packagings exactly replicated of the era. I'm a newer buff of older movies and music, having really grown up in the 70's. What I now know is that it just doesn't get any better than this! This is one of those packages I know I'll go back to for almost any reason in any season-simply some of the best stuff both musically and cinematically. Don't hesitate on this one at all....more info
  • Wonderful...eventually.
    The first time this was shipped to me, 5 of the 10 discs were missing. I contacted Amazon's customer service and they responded to my email within an hour (!) saying that they would replace the entire set. I received the new discs a week later, and they were all there. I returned the old discs as they asked, and I've been enjoying my movies since!

    The only disappointment with the set itself was that the included coupon for free full-size movie posters had expired 2 years ago. I'd been expecting it, but unfortunately WB no longer offers this bonus....more info
  • Half of the movies are missing!
    I received this as a gift, and all of the movies from the "volume 1 collection" were missing! The cases were in the box, but were empty.

    We sent it back to amazon and requested a new set. This too arrived missing half of the movies.

    When we called to ask what was going on, we were told that it was a known problem with the item and couldn't be fixed. We were given a refund and told to keep the half-complete set. Of course, without Top Hat, Follow the Fleet, Swing Time, or Shall We Dance, it's not much of an Astaire/Rogers collection!

    If you only want the volume 2 movies, save the money and buy that collection, because those are the ONLY movies you'll get with this product!...more info
    No doubt, one of the best packs that can be bought with the movies of this unique couple. Not only to be able to have their 10 pictures brought together in one alone packaging, but in addition it brings a complementary dvd and a CD, besides diverse material of propaganda of the time of some of their movies.And with the added for the Spanish public of all the movies are subtitled in this language. The best purchase that I have realized in a lot of time....more info
  • A Fully Featured Time Machine
    In the world of DVD boxed sets, this is definitely among the best. In addition to nicely cleaned-up feature films, each disc includes a sampling of special features. A few have short documentaries on the making of the particular film -- wonderful addenda to the full-length documentary that comes on its own disc -- but all include at least one short subject and one cartoon from the same year as the feature film, providing an almost-complete moviegoing experience from the 1930s. The only thing lacking is some newsreel footage.

    The only glitch in the package comes in the form of the all-too-common apologia for the representation of some people in the 1930s. The political overtones are impossible to miss on one disc where the Tom 'n Jerry cartoon starts with a warning screen claiming that the representation of the black housekeeper "was wrong then and is wrong today." Nothing necessarily wrong with that except that the short subject also included on the disc features a caricatured "Hindu" apparently not deserving of the same consideration. The representation of the black housekeeper may seem unidimensional today, but at least it was basically accurate for its era. The depiction of the "Hindu" as the bumbling, comical Other, complete with mystical powers and an explicit willingness to be a "slave" to the white leading man, was wholly inaccurate, trivial and much more offensive, in the current sense, than the depiction of the black housekeeper. Only the black housekeeper was deemed worthy of an apology, however. This is history remade to serve the needs of the present. Unfortunate, but hardly unprecedented. A bit of a surprise in this set, however. The well-rounded package assumes interested viewers have some measure of appreciation for the passage of time. Viewers assumed to be so historically aware should, by the same token, be assumed capable of coming to their own conclusions about the human conditions of the past.

    All in all, a wonderful set. If you want to watch the movies, enjoy the music and wander the lovely, theme park-like Fred and Ginger world, it's all here. If you want to watch with a critical eye and travel back in time, you can do that too. All DVD collections should be so complete. Very highly recommended....more info
  • Great collection for Astaire and Rogers fans
    I'm a great fan of Fred Astaire who was the greatest dancer of all time. Never surpassed till this day. I got this collection from Amazon at a great price. It was an offer I couldn't refuse!...more info
  • Excellent dvdset
    Warner did an excellent job at delivering this wonderful set. All ten films with the magic of Astaire and Rogers are included. On top of that you get wonderful extra's on the dvd's and beautiful reprinted promotional items as well. I've never been a fan of giftsets but this one is an exception. Highly recommended to any fan of classics from the golden age of musical!...more info
  • a thesaurus of musicals in a package for musicals lovers
    each movie starring Fred and Ginger can be considered as a jewel; so is this collector's edition with bonus of value ( many photographs "off screen", newspapers articles,...) certainly collected by a true lover who aimed to enjoy the buyer....more info
  • Too Bad
    Great movies. Variable audio quality. Five out of ten DVD boxes in the shrink-wrapped package were EMPTY. No resolution through customer service because I waited too long. Let the buyer beware. As you can see with other reviews, I was not the only one to receive empty DVD boxes. These movies are available in other boxed sets. Hopefully, all the DVDs will be there....more info
  • Wonderful
    My wife and I have a new tradition: "Fred & Ginger Fridays". Each Friday we are watching a different movie in chronological order. I can't dance at all and yet I love watching these two spin and tap. The stories are (mostly) light and fluffy, but that is not the point. The point is the music and dance.
    Buy this set. You will love it....more info
  • Top Hat
    It is such a pleasure to see these movies again. To have them in such excellent form is truly wonderful. They will renew your faith in humanity. "Wouldn't it be wonderful" if we could be this way again, not the selfish, ignorant world that we have unfortunately become....more info
  • Missing DVDs
    I purchased this as a gift to a deployed soldier. There were 5 DVDs missing from the collection. The only options Amazon gave me was return the box set because they are no longer using the supplier....more info
  • What a dream!
    This set is amazing, the best set I've ordered yet! It even has a bonus cd with Astaire and Roger's most memorable songs. The extras are wonderful and I definitely recommend. The only thing is you can't get the free posters from the mail-in offer because the last chance to do that was in April of last year. Other than that, I have no quibbles....more info
  • Received ahead of estimated time
    Product arrived in good shape and ahead of the estimated time given.
    Well pleased....more info


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