It’s wedding bells for Prince William and Kate Middleton! Millions tuned in to watch his parents tie the knot. (And I sincerely hope and pray that William and Kate enjoy the happy, healthy marriage that Charles and Diana did not.) But few probably remember the marriage of Queen Elizabeth II to Prince Philip–but Hollywood paid tribute to then-Princess Elizabeth’s 1947 marriage in Royal Wedding.
Made in 1951, this MGM musical stars Fred Astaire and Jane Powell as an American brother-sister act invited to perform in England on the eve of the royal nuptials–and it gets them thinking that perhaps they’d like to find their special someones, too. I grew up watching this film–so it’s a favorite family classic. Admittedly, it’s not the most spectacular or riveting musical–but it has one particularly memorable number in which Astaire literally dances on the walls and ceiling of his hotel room!
We had the privilege of hearing director Stanely Donen explain the technology used in this scene while at a John Williams concert at the Hollywood Bowl. Essentially, the Royal Wedding crew built a square room in a rotating cylinder and bolted the camera (and strapped the cameraman in) to the floor so that the camera’s perspective never changed. But the rotating room allowed Astaire to dance all over the place.
Royal Wedding is worth seeing if you haven’t already. And thanks to Netflix, it’s just a few clicks away!