January 12, 2014

Fred Astaire is the Best Thing—Possibly Ever. {Video}

An entire chamber of my heart houses nothing but old movies.

Some of my earliest memories involve my aunt and I staying up late to watch classics; my childhood favorites were Auntie Mame and Gone with the Wind (as an elementary school-aged child, I dressed as Scarlett O’Hara for Halloween—three years in a row).

There was something about the quality of the pictures—the sets, the costumes, the makeup, the orchestral scores—that mesmerized my young mind. My heart lit up for the past, as it still does.

Adult-version me prefers queuing up classics on Netflix over newer films. Watching old movies connects us to our histories: our shared dreams and hardships as a culture; the industrial growth we experienced; artistic origins of almost any medium.

Watching old movies is the closest I can get to a time when ideas that we now consider well-worn were being birthed—story lines and concepts that would be recycled again and again in future films.

Just like clothing trends make bold returns, modern films include elements that draw from classics; inclusions can pay homage to the originals, they can ‘borrow’ ideas or they can be outright remakes, but anything genuinely, unmistakably ‘new’ is the exception.

It seems to me that stars of the past had a magnetic quality about them, something unique to the business today: the fiery Vivian Leigh, the dashing Clarke Gable, the shoot-water-from-your-nose funny Jack Lemmon, the enchanting (delightful, perfect, insert many more adjectives here) Audrey Hepburn

And then, there’s Fred.

To explain why Fred Astaire is remarkable is to try to explain why unicorns are magic.

They just are.

He just is.

(and this clip proves it)


Love elephant and want to go steady?

Sign up for our (curated) daily and weekly newsletters!

Editor: Rachel Nussbaum

Photo: elephant archives

Leave a Thoughtful Comment

Read 0 comments and reply

Top Contributors Latest

Sara Crolick  |  Contribution: 5,440