Saturday, November 5, 2011

Fred Astaire: Puttin' On the Ritz

Fred Astaire doing a snappy dance number in the 1946 Hollywood film, Blue Skies, starring Fred Astaire, Bing Crosby and Joan Caulfield, and directed by Stuart Heisler. Although the film, as is the case with all musicals, has a love story, the star in this film is the music of  Irving Berlin, who is credited with the film's writing.

Irving Berlin, a native of New York, wrote the song, "Puttin' on the Ritz," in 1929. It was a vernacular for dressing fashionably, as one would do at the opulent Ritz Hotel in New York City.The song speaks about upward mobility and fashion, and a decorum expected of the upper classes. (There is a more modern take of the Berlin song, "Boy From New York City," performed by Manhattan Transfer, in 1981, and which can be viewed here.)

Putting' On The Ritz
by Irving Berlin

Have you seen the well-to-do, up and down Park Avenue
On that famous thoroughfare, with their noses in the air
High hats and Arrowed collars, white spats and lots of dollars
Spending every dime, for a wonderful time

If you're blue and you don't know where to go to
Why don't you go where fashion sits,
Puttin' on the ritz.

Different types who wear a daycoat, pants with stripes
And cut away coat, perfect fits,
Puttin' on the ritz.

Dressed up like a million dollar trouper
Trying hard to look like Gary Cooper (super duper)
Come let's mix where Rockefellers walk with sticks
Or umbrellas in their mitts
Puttin' on the Ritz

Tips his hat just like an english chappie
To a lady with a wealthy pappy (very snappy)
You'll declare it's simply topping to be there
And hear them swapping smart titbits
Puttin' on the ritz!