|The Barkleys of Broadway|
|Directed by||Charles Walters|
|Produced by||Arthur Freed|
|Written by||Betty Comden|
|Edited by||Albert Akst|
The Barkleys of Broadway is a 1949 Technicolor musical film from the Arthur Freed unit at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer that reunited Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers after ten years apart. Directed by Charles Walters, the screenplay is by Betty Comden, Adolph Green and Sidney Sheldon, the songs are by Harry Warren (music) and Ira Gershwin (lyrics) with the addition of "They Can't Take That Away from Me" by George and Ira Gershwin, and the choreography was created by Robert Alton and Hermes Pan. Also featured in the cast were Oscar Levant, Billie Burke, Jacques François and Gale Robbins.
Rogers came in as a last minute replacement for Judy Garland, whose frequent absences due to a dependency on prescription medication cost her the role. This turned out to be the last film that Astaire and Rogers made together, and their only film together in color.
Josh and Dinah Barkley (Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers) are a husband-and-wife musical comedy team at the peak of their careers. After finishing a new show, Dinah meets serious French playwright Jacques Pierre Barredout (Jacques François), who suggests that Dinah should take up dramatic acting. Dinah tries to keep the suggestion a secret from Josh, but when he finally discovers Dinah hiding a script for Jacques' new show from him, the couple splits up.
Their good friend, acerbic composer Ezra Millar (Oscar Levant) tries to trick them back together again, but fails. When Josh secretly watches Dinah's rehearsals for Barredout's new play and sees how she is struggling, he calls her up and pretends to be the Frenchman, giving her notes that help her to understand her part, the young Sarah Bernhardt. As the result, Dinah gives a brilliant performance. After the show, she accidentally learns that her late-night mentor was Josh and not Barredout, so she rushes to Josh's apartment and the two reconcile.
The Barkleys of Broadway began with the working title of You Made Me Love You, and with Judy Garland in the lead role opposite Fred Astaire, a repeat of their pairing in Easter Parade (1948). In fact, producer Arthur Freed had Comden and Green working on the script for the new film even before Easter Parade was finished. The film went into rehearsals with Garland, but it was soon clear that she would not be physically and emotionally able to do it. Freed contacted Ginger Rogers to see if she was interested in reuniting with Astaire: there had been rumors, denied by both, that the Astaire-Rogers working relationship had not been particularly warm, and they had not worked together since The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle in 1939. Rogers was interested, and The Barkleys of Broadway became their tenth and final film together, as well as their only film in color.
The production period was from 8 August through 30 October 1948, with some additional work on 28 December. The Technicolor process required very bright lights which were uncomfortable to work under. While the film was in production, Fred Astaire won an honorary Academy Award for "his unique artistry and his contributions to the technique of musical pictures," presented to him at the awards ceremony by Ginger Rogers.
The Barkleys of Broadway premiered in New York on 4 May 1949 and went into general American release shortly after.
Three other Harry Warren-Ira Gershwin songs were intended for the film but never used: "The Courtin' of Elmer and Ella," "Natchez on the Mississippi," and "Poetry in Motion." Another song by Warren and Gershwin, "There is No Music", was dropped from the film when Judy Garland was released from the picture.
Critical response to The Barkleys of Broadway was mixed but positive.
Although the film did not win any awards, it did receive several nominations. Cinematographer Harry Stradling Sr. was nominated for a 1950 Academy Award for Best Color Cinematography, and writers Comden and Green were nominated for a Writers Guild of America Award for Best Written American Musical.
A radio version of the film was broadcast on January 1, 1951 as an episode of the Lux Radio Theater, with Ginger Rogers reprising the role of Dinah Barkley, and George Murphy playing her husband and partner Josh.