Royal Wedding (1951)

Genres - Comedy, Musical  |   Sub-Genres - Musical Comedy, Musical Romance, Romantic Comedy  |   Release Date - Mar 8, 1951 (USA)  |   Run Time - 93 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Royal Wedding is an excellent example of a film the strengths of which are so strong as to make its considerable weaknesses almost irrelevant. Among those weaknesses, the most problematic is the screenplay. Alan Jay Lerner's story is commonplace, even if set against the backdrop of the wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip. The dialogue is generally good, but the plot offers little in the way of suspense or surprise. The real sizzle and fire come from elsewhere: the cast, the score, and the dancing. Fred Astaire is marvelous, demonstrating in his musical numbers that no other male performer -- even those with technically superior voices -- was better at interpreting a song. His dance numbers here include two of his best: the "Sunday Jumps" gym sequence with the classic hat rack duet and the much heralded "You're All the World to Me," in which he dances up the walls and across the ceiling of his room. Jane Powell is not his equal as a dance partner, but she comes off very well in the amusing "How Could You Believe Me When I Said I Love You When You Know I've Been a Liar All My Life." Powell also gets to handle the beautiful and unfortunately overlooked ballad "Too Late Now," which contains a melody of admirable purity. Stanley Donen's direction is assured, glossing over the film's shortcomings and knowing how to showcase its assets. Royal Wedding may fall just shy of being a classic, but its highlights are among the best the musical film has to offer.