Fred and Ginger stay together

The new set from Warner Home Entertainment brings the films of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers together for a beautiful new set The Astaire and Rogers Collection: Volume 1. Five films are included.

Top Hat (1935)

One of the most beloved Astaire-Rogers musicals, Top Hat has it all: art deco elegance, a whimsical storyline involving a case of mistaken identity and the ideal chemistry of the two leads dancing to Irving Berlin’s finest film score. Directed by Mark Sandrich (Gay Divorcee, Shall We Dance), Top Hat was nominated for four Academy Awards®, including Best Picture. The film’s highlights include Astaire’s signature “Top Hat, White Tie and Tails,” as well as “Isn’t It a Lovely Day (to Be Caught in the Rain)?” and “Cheek to Cheek.” An added treat is a young Lucille Ball appearing in a small role as a flower clerk.

The DVD carries an audio commentary by Fred Astaire’s Daughter, Ava Astaire McKenzie and Film Dance Historian Larry Billman, the new featurette On Top: Inside the Success of Top Hat, the short Watch the Birdie with Bob Hope, and the cartoon Page Miss Glory.

Swing Time (1936)

Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers headline Swing Time, the romantic comedy buoyed by a sublime Jerome Kern/Dorothy Fields score, nimble direction by George Stevens and the leads’ effortless dancing (after reportedly 350 hours of rehearsing). Standouts of the film, considered one of the team’s very best, are the songs “Pick Yourself Up,” “Never Gonna Dance,” and the Oscar-winning “The Way You Look Tonight” – plus Astaire’s “Bojangles of Harlem” tap tribute.

Extras on the DVD include audio commentary with John Mueller, Author of Astaire Dancing, the musical short Hotel a la Swing and the cartoon Bingo Crosbyana.

Follow The Fleet (1936)

In the fifth of ten Astaire-Rogers pairings, Fred trades his top hat for a sailor’s cap, Randolph Scott gets the girl (Harriet Hilliard), Ginger gets a tap solo and viewers get the unending delight of seven sparkling Irving Berlin numbers, including “Let Yourself Go,” “We Saw the Sea,” “I’m Putting All My Eggs in One Basket” and “Let’s Face the Music and Dance.”

On the disc is a new featurette Follow the Fleet: The Origins of Those Dancing Feet, the musical short Melody Master: Jimmie Lunceford and His Dance Orchestra and the cartoon Let It Be Me.

Shall We Dance (1937)

In their seventh movie, Astaire and Rogers croon, swoon and sway, this time to a glorious score from George and Ira Gershwin which includes “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off,” Oscar-nominated “They Can’t Take That Away from Me,” “They All Laughed” and more great numbers. Dance highlights include a terrific roller skate number and Astaire’s solo in the art-deco boiler room of an ocean liner. The film centers around world renowned ballet star Petrov (Astaire) and musical revue sensation Linda Keene (Rogers) who decide to wed and publicly divorce to quash persistent rumors of their secret marriage.

DVD extras include an audio commentary by Kevin Cole and Hugh Martin, a new featurette They Can’t Take That Away from Me: The Music of Shall We Dance, the musical short Sheik to Sheik and the cartoon Toy Town Hall.

The Barkleys of Broadway (1949)
After 10 years apart, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers reteam for their final film, written by Betty Comden and Adolph Green and directed by Charles Walters. The story mirrors real-life creative tensions the two shared, with Astaire playing driven musical comedy hoofer Josh Barkley and Rogers his wife Dinah. When Dinah leaves to become a great dramatic actress, Josh vies to win her back. The routines include Astaire’s “Shoes with Wings On” and a reprise from Shall We Dance, “They Can’t Take That Away from Me” by George and Ira Gershwin.

The extras include a new featurette Reunited at MGM: Astaire and Rogers Together Again, the short Annie Was a Wonder and the cartoon Wags to Riches.

The set, and the individual releases will be available on August 16th. The titles will be priced at $19.97 with the set priced at $59.92.

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