The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle is an unusual Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers film for a number of reasons. For one, there's none of the cat-and-mouse games that are a hallmark of most of their films, with one chasing the other until finally wearing him/her down. Castle also uses period songs rather than an original score, and much of the dancing is based on the steps used in real life by the title characters. And, of course, the stars are playing real historical figures, one of whom dies in the course of the film. Those who may have seen one too many Astaire-Rogers films will probably welcome these changes, but others may find that these changes contribute to a certain flatness. Castle isn't bad or lifeless; nothing with these two stars could be that. But it doesn't have the same sparkle and pizzazz that one associates with the duo. Still, the death and subsequent "dream dance" both pack a significant wallop that is missing in other films for the pair. And although both stars feel a little restrained without the adversarial chase that is common to them, they still are in fine form throughout, whether singing, dancing, or acting. And even if The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle doesn't sparkle the same way that Top Hat or Swing Time does, it still has enough fizz to make it enjoyable.
by Craig Butler review