Royal Wedding (1951) starring Fred Astaire, Jane Powell, Peter Lawford, Sarah Churchill, Keenan Wynn, Albert Sharpe directed by Stanley Donen Movie Review

Royal Wedding (1951)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Jane Powell and Peter Lawford in Royal Wedding (1951)

Astaire's Wedding Dance

As Fred Astaire musicals go "Royal Wedding" isn't bad but it is for the most average and quite forgettable. In fact it almost feels like a musical churned out not so much because anyone thought it would be great but partly to give some people something to do. And the reason I say that is because the storyline is ordinary, the songs are ordinary and with the exception of one or two memorable dance routines the rest is ordinary to. In fact whilst there is nothing bad about "Royal Wedding" the real reason it is worth watching is the dance routine which Fred Astaire does on the walls and ceiling of a room, well that and the song which has the incredibly long title "How Could You Believe Me When I Said I Love You When You Know I've Been a Liar All My Life,".

As their stage show comes to an end in American, song and dance act Tom (Fred Astaire - The Barkleys of Broadway) and Ellen Bowen (Jane Powell - Seven Brides for Seven Brothers) who are brother and sister, are invited to England to perform their show during the Royal Wedding celebrations. But they get more than they bargain for because on the way over Ellen meets Lord John Brindale (Peter Lawford) and becomes smitten with him whilst Tom meets Anne Ashmond (Sarah Churchill) whilst he is auditioning dancers and falls for her. But can anything come of these relationships when it would mean splitting up the act.

Sarah Churchill and Fred Astaire in Royal Wedding (1951)

As musicals go "Royal Wedding" has one of slimmest storylines you will come across as it features brother and sister dance act going to England and finding love which causes them issues over splitting up the act. That is it, as whilst there is some dressing up with Ellen being the sort of women to have a couple of men fighting over her whilst the object of Tom's affection being engaged to a man she hasn't seen in years there is little depth. And whilst the set up to the story is the Bowen's coming to England to perform their Royal Wedding show whilst the country is in the grip of a royal wedding fever, which was the then Princess Elizabeth, the Royal Wedding aspect is not really important at all.

As such "Royal Wedding" is very much one of those musicals which trades purely on the singing and dancing except as already mentioned much of what is delivered is not very memorable. In fact there are just 3 dances which stick out, a dance on a boat which is listing from side to side, Fred Astaire dancing with gym equipment and a coat stand and the wonderful scene which sees him smoothly dance on the walls and ceiling of a room. To be honest it is this clever dance scene with Fred Astaire in a rotating room which makes watching "Royal Wedding" worthwhile and really demonstrates his amazing ability and for a 50 years old he certainly shows great athletic ability.

Aside from that one dance Astaire seems to coast along as Tom, being nice, being charming and well doing what we saw him do in the musicals of 15 years earlier. Not that I'm complaining as watching Astaire dance is a joy and he works well with Jane Powell as his sister Ellen who comes into her own when she gets to sing, just a shame the songs she sings are not as memorable as her voice. Not being memorable also extends to Peter Lawford who plays Ellen's love interest and Sarah Churchill who Tom falls for.

What this all boils down to is that "Royal Wedding" is sort of a meaningless musical which for the most lacks any real purpose. In the end it is worth watching mainly for Fred Astaire in the scene where he dances on the walls and ceiling of a room with such effortless grace.