Is anyone interested in a series of movies featuring a lead actor who can't sing, can't act, is slightly balding, but can dance a little? Well, when the actor in question is Fred Astaire and his dance partner is Ginger Rogers, fans of old school musicals will be tripping over themselves for this four-film boxset, featuring Top Hat, Follow The Fleet, Shall We Dance, and Carefree. The remastered prints make these preferable to anyone's old video copy but a word of warning: the extras are lighter than Fred and Ginger on the dancefloor.
Time To Face The Music
The only drawback with these 30s musicals is the sound of the music. It still sounds tinny, even when it's been digitally remastered. That's a real shame, because there are some great songs here - Cheek To Cheek, They Can't Take That Away From Me, Let's Face The Music And Dance, and They All Laughed, to name but four. Luckily the ingenious choreography compensates for those technical limitations (check out Fred's wonderful golfing dance number in Carefree).
The main extra comes from Fred's daughter, Ava Astaire McKenzie, who introduces each of the movies. Her delivery is wooden enough to have you searching for strings, but her anecdotes are highly entertaining. She (understandably) has great access to her old man's personal letters, revealing, for example, his thoughts on the egos of some of his collaborators - this source also reveals George Gershwin's final words to be "Fred Astaire".
The only additional footage in the intros is an hilarious UK version of a Follow The Fleet song called Get Thee Behind Me Satan. The snippy Brit censor took exception to the Devil word and simply cut the word from the song, with understandably painful results. It'd be great to see more of this if a second boxset rounding up Fred and Ginger's other five collaborations is released in the future.
This DVD was reviewed on a JVC XV-N5 DVD player.