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Afternoon Delight's American Musical Series #3: Smoke Gets in Your Eyes


by Jerome Weeks 16 Mar 2011

The film, ‘Lovely to Look At,’ wasn’t so interesting to sit through, but this gorgeous duet with the husband-and-wife team of Marge and Gower Champion is pure elegance. It’s the latest entry in this week’s series of great music-and-dance scenes from American films you’ve probably never seen.

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Afternoon Delight is a daily diversion for when you’re just back from lunch, but not quite ready to get back to work. Check back tomorrow at 1 p.m. for another one.

We’re devoting this entire week to Afternoon Delight’s Great American Movie Musical series — which showcases music-and-dance scenes from American films you’ve probably never seen.

And this one is pure elegance. The dancing actually doesn’t start until the two-minute mark, but as with yesterday’s “Birth of the Blues,” it’s worth the wait: The dancers are the husband-and-wife team of Marge and Gower Champion, and they seem to float and swirl and melt into each other as they move. The Champions perform a gorgeous duet to “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” from the 1952 film, Lovely to Look At.

As with the previous entries in our series, notice the amazingly low number of cuts — but also the beautifully expressive, flowing use of overhead shots. From the moment the Champions dance right through the window and its flower box, I count all of three edits, including the first take, featuring an incredible pullback, a long, slow tracking crane shot. Mervyn LeRoy is listed as the director, but the masterful Vincente Minelli did uncredited work as director, and the great Hermes Pan was the choreographer.

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