The love triangle is a standby of the romantic movie in which women or men have to choose which lover best suits them. It occurred to me in reviewing Love on the Run that it might be interesting to delve into hypothetical battles between actors and guess which would prevail. Granted, in most of these cases the outcome will depend on who the object of affection is as he or she is the ultimate decider. Nevertheless, based on the typical on-screen persona of the men below, who would you guess to be the victor in a romantic comedy or drama (Explain your answer!)? Without letting my own bias into the mix, below are my conclusions about Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly.
Despite being probably the most prominent dancers of their time, Astaire and Kelly never appeared in a narrative movie together. They pop up as themselves in The Ziegfeld Follies and That’s Entertainment II, but otherwise the two never had to fight over a girl. I mentioned in my review of the former flick my opinions of my favorite of the two dancers, but I will try to keep that conclusion out of this argument.
Both men wooed women on screen through song and dance, but their styles of dance were distinctly different. Both could tap, but Astaire was the real hoofer whereas Kelly adopted more of what we now consider a Broadway or Jazz style. This difference is important in this battle as Kelly’s technique was more sensual (think An American in Paris) whereas Astaire’s was more fun. While Fred was busy holding hands and swinging his partner too and fro, Kelly was right up against his ladies, showing his prowess. It is for the mere reason of dance style that I think Kelly pulls to the lead.
Looking at their on-screen personalities, both men generally played kind, gentle lovers. Kelly occasionally went beyond that comfort zone to play a disgraced soldier (For Me and My Gal) and a criminal pirate (The Pirate), but he was always kind to the women in those stories. Astaire, on the other hand, seems to have proved in his cinematic history that he can always win over the girl, even when the alternative is Peter Lawford (Easter Parade). Kelly’s on screen personalities, however, did not shy away from being a down-and-out underdog in some instances, which perhaps could make Astaire the stronger lead in a love triangle.
Nevertheless, based on dancing style and the likelihood that Gene Kelly could act as a strong romantic contender against anyone, I will choose him as my victor. What do you think of this duel? Was it an unfair fight?