A Fine Romance

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Swing Time (RKO) is a 1936 Hollywood musical comedy film set mainly in New York and stars Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Helen Broderick, Victor Moore, Eric Blore and Georges Metaxa, with music by Jerome Kern and lyrics by Dorothy Fields. The film was directed by George Stevens. – wikipedia

Excerpts from WICN.org’s Song of the Week feature:

Swing Time was the sixth of ten Astaire and Rodgers musicals, and is considered by many to be their best. The film was a commercial success and “The Way You Look Tonight” won the 1936 Academy Award for Best Song, beating out stiff competition that included Cole Porter’s “I’ve Got You Under my Skin.”

Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields were in top form when they composed the score for Swing Time. In addition to the romantic ballad “The Way You Look Tonight,” the score included two other hits, “A Fine Romance” and “Pick Yourself Up.” [Jazzstandards.com reports that Fred Astaire recorded five of the songs with Johnny Green and his Orchestra and each of them became hits] For the 1930s Kern and Fields were an odd couple songwriting team. Kern was 20 years older than Fields and generally recognized as the father of American musical theater. Between 1904 and 1939 he contributed to 113 shows, a record that remains unmatched by any other composer. On Broadway Kern had collaborated with outstanding lyricists Otto Harbach and Oscar Hammerstein II, but when he moved from New York to Hollywood seeking work during the Great Depression, he began working with Fields. At that time Fields was virtually the only successful female songwriter. She was 30 years old when she began working with Kern, but in her twenties she had already produced such hits as “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love (Baby)” and “On the Sunny Side of the Street.” By the time she began working with Kern, her reputation as a top lyricist was established and she was in demand. William Zinsser, in his book Easy to Remember, had this to say about their working relationship: “The young lyricist drew out of the famously intractable older composer a score of unusual zest.”

See also:

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Wikipedia says:

Kern’s third standard [of Swing Time], a quickstep to Field’s bittersweet lyrics, is sung alternately by Rogers and Astaire, with Rogers providing an object lesson in acting while a bowler-hatted Astaire appears at times to be impersonating Stan Laurel. Never a man to discard a favourite piece of fine clothing, Astaire wears the same coat in the opening scene of Holiday Inn (1941).

Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers in Swing Time (1936)

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Fred Astaire with Johnny Green and his Orchestra – 1936

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Bing Crosby and Dixie Lee Crosby with Victor Young & his Orchestra – 1936

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Billie Holiday – Session #10 New York, 29 September 1936, Billie Holiday &  Her Orchestra (Vocalion) — Bunny Berigan (tp) Irving Fazola (cl) Clyde Hart (p) Dick McDonough (g) Artie Bernstein (b) Cozy Cole (d) Billie Holiday (v) – Holiday recorded the song one more time, in 1955.

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Peggy Lee-6a

Peggy Lee and Mel Tormé – 1951

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Billie Holiday — Session #74, Los Angeles, 25 August 1955 (Verve) — Billie Holiday & Her Orchestra:  Harry ‘Sweets’ Edison (tp) Benny Carter (as) Jimmy Rowles (p) Barney Kessel (g) John Simmons (b) Larry Bunker (d) Billie Holiday (v)

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Marilyn Monroe – 1950s, date unknown

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Sammy Davis, Jr. and Carmen McRae — from their 1957 studio album of standards, Boy Meets Girl

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Frank Sinatra – recorded 20 December 1960

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Jazz piano tutorial improvisation

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