The story sees brother and sister Tom (Fred Astaire) and Ellen Bowen (Jane Powell) as stars of a show Every Night at Seven, a Broadway success.
They are persuaded to take the show to London, capitalizing on an imminent royal wedding.
On the ship, Ellen meets and quickly falls in love with the impoverished but well-connected Lord John Brindale (Peter Lawford).
Whilst casting the show in London, Tom falls in love with a newly engaged dancer, Anne Ashmond (Sarah Churchill).
Tom assists Anne to reconcile her estranged parents and also asks his agent to locate Anne's supposed fiancé in Chicago – only to discover that he's married.
Carried away by the emotion of the wedding, the two couples decide that they will also be married that day.
Fred Astaire as Tom Bowen
Jane Powell as Ellen Bowen
Sarah Churchill as Anne Ashmond
Peter Lawford as Lord John Brindale
Keenan Wynn as Irving Klinger/Edgar Klinger
Albert Sharpe as James Ashmond
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Bea Allen as Dancer in Haiti Number (uncredited)
Les Baxter as Specialty in 'What a Lovely Day for a Wedding' Number (uncredited)
Wilson Benge as Minor Role (uncredited)
Margaret Bert as Ellen's Maid (uncredited)
Francis Bethencourt as Charles Gordon (uncredited)
Jack Boyle as Dancer (uncredited)
William Cabanne as Dick (uncredited)
Andre Charisse as Steward (uncredited)
Jack Chefe as Ship's Officer (uncredited)
Mae Clarke as Telephone Operator #1 (uncredited)
Carmen Clifford as Dancer in Haiti Number (uncredited)
James Conaty as Royal Attendant (uncredited)
Oliver Cross as Backstage Guest (uncredited)
Joan Dale as Dancer in Haiti Number (uncredited)
Jack Daley as Pop (uncredited)
Towyna Dally as Minor Role (uncredited)
Italia DeNubila as Dancer in Haiti Number (uncredited)
Helen Dickson as Woman in Carriage with Lord John (uncredited)
Marietta Elliott as Dancer in Haiti Number (uncredited)
Herbert Evans as Royal Attendant (uncredited)
James Fairfax as Harry (uncredited)
Franklyn Farnum as Backstage Guest (uncredited)
James Finlayson as Cabby (uncredited)
Bess Flowers as Backstage Guest (uncredited)
Alex Frazer as Chester - Tom's Valet (uncredited)
Jack Gargan as Bartender (uncredited)
Shirley Glickman as Dancer in Haiti Number (uncredited)v
James Gonzalez as Ship Passenger (uncredited)
Betty Hannon as Dancer in Haiti Number (uncredited)
Jean Harrison as Dancer in Haiti Number (uncredited)
Doreen Hayward as Dancer in Haiti Number (uncredited)
John Hedloe as Billy (uncredited)
Jimmie Horan as Stagehand (uncredited)
James Horne Jr. as Young Man (uncredited)
Marian Horosko as Dancer in Haiti Number (uncredited)
Wendy Howard as Chorus Girl (uncredited)
Tommy Hughes as Singing Man (uncredited)
Charlotte Hunter as Dancer in Haiti Number (uncredited)
Delos Jewkes as Specialty in 'What a Lovely Day for a Wedding' Number (uncredited)
Gwen L. Jones as Specialty in 'What a Lovely Day for a Wedding' Number (uncredited)
Kenner G. Kemp as Backstage Guest (uncredited)
Lucille La Marr as Dancer in Haiti Number (uncredited)
Janet Lavis as Dancer in Haiti Number (uncredited)
Virginia Lee as Dancer in Haiti Number (uncredited)
Judy Lenson as Dancer in Haiti Number (uncredited)
Henri Letondal as Purser (uncredited)
Judy London as Dancer (uncredited)
Richard Lupino as Singing Elevator Boy (uncredited)
Stanley Mann as Cab Driver (uncredited)
Frank McClure as Information Clerk at Dock (uncredited)
Svetlana McLe as Dancer in Haiti Number (uncredited)
Sheila Meyers as Dancer (uncredited)
Harold Miller as Man at Rehearsal (uncredited)
Phyllis Morris as Singing Woman (uncredited)
Leonard Mudie as Singing Doorman (uncredited)
Barry Norton as Backstage Guest (uncredited)
Kerry O'Day as Linda (uncredited)
Jetsy Parker as Dancer in Haiti Number (uncredited)
'Snub' Pollard as Onlooker on Street (uncredited)
Albert Pollet as Steward (uncredited)
John R. Reilly as Pete Cumberly (uncredited)
Ricky Ricardi as Dancer (uncredited)
Shirley Jean Rickert as Dancer in Haiti Number (uncredited)
Viola Roache as Sarah Ashmond (uncredited)
John Rogers as Cockney in Pub (uncredited)
Cosmo Sardo as Bartender (uncredited)
Pat Simms as Dancer in Haiti Number (uncredited)
Bert Stevens as Military Officer on Street (uncredited)
Amzie Strickland as Dancer in Haiti Number (uncredited)
Brick Sullivan as Stagehand (uncredited)
David Thursby as Singing Bobby (uncredited)
Dee Turnell as Dancer in Haiti Number (uncredited)
Dorothy Tuttle as Dancer in Haiti Number (uncredited)
Joan Vohs as Dancer in Haiti Number (uncredited)
Dorothea Ward as Dancer in Haiti Number (uncredited)
Pat Williams as Barbara (uncredited)
Eric Wilton as Toasting Drinker at Bar (uncredited)
Helen Winston as Telephone Operator #2 (uncredited)
Doris Wolcott as Dancer in Haiti Number (uncredited)
Wilson Wood as Drinker (uncredited)
Stanley Donen and Jane Powell were not part of the film's original crew and cast; former dancer Charles Walters was the film's original director, with June Allyson as Astaire's co-star.
Judy Garland was then signed as Ellen, over the objection of Walters who had spent a "year-and-a-half nurturing her through her previous film, Summer Stock"; instead of listening to Walters' objection, Arthur Freed brought in Donen as director; Garland, who during rehearsal worked only half-days, started calling in sick as principal photography was to begin.
That prompted Freed to replace her, which in turn caused MGM to cancel her contract with the studio, one that had lasted 14 years.
Principal photography occurred in 1950, from July 6-August 24; retakes took place in mid-October.
The scene featuring the song "You're All the World to Me" was filmed by building a set inside a revolving barrel and mounting the camera and its operator to an ironing board which could be rotated along with the room.
Notable songs and dance routines
Ev'ry Night At Seven": Astaire pretends to be a bored king alongside a lively Powell
Sunday Jumps": Astaire credits the idea for this solo to his long-time choreographic collaborator Hermes Pan. In it, Astaire parodies himself by dancing with a hatstand and appears to parody his rival and friend Gene Kelly by inserting a mock bodybuilding episode during which he kicks aside some Indian clubs in a reference to Kelly's "Be A Clown" routine with The Nicholas Brothers in The Pirate. The fame of the dance rests on Astaire's ability to animate the inanimate. The solo takes place in a ship's gym, where Astaire is waiting to rehearse with his partner Powell, who doesn't turn up, echoing Adele Astaire's attitude toward her brother's obsessive rehearsal habits to which the lyrics (unused and unpublished) also made reference. In 1997, Astaire's widow Robyn authorized Dirt Devil to use a digitally altered version of the scene where Astaire dances with a hatstand in a commercial; Astaire's daughter Ava objected publicly to the commercial, implying they had "tarnish[ed] his image" and saying it was "the antithesis of everything my lovely, gentle father represented"
"Open Your Eyes": This waltz is sung by Powell at the beginning of a romantic routine danced by Powell and Astaire in front of an audience in the ballroom of a transatlantic liner. Soon, a storm rocks the ship and the duet is transformed into a comic routine with the dancers sliding about to the ship's motions. This number is based on a real-life incident which happened to Fred and Adele Astaire as they traveled by ship to London in 1923.
"The Happiest Days of My Life": Powell's character sings this ballad to Lawford's, with Astaire sitting at the piano.
"How Could You Believe Me When I Said I Love You When You Know I've Been a Liar All My Life" has what is considered the longest title of any song in MGM musical history. For the first time in his career, Astaire casts aside all pretension to elegance and indulges in a comic song and dance vaudeville-style with Powell. The routine recalls the "A Couple Of Swells" number with Judy Garland in Easter Parade. Here, for the second time in the film, he seems to parody Gene Kelly by wearing the latter's trademark straw boater and employing the stomps and splayed strides that originated with George M. Cohan and were much favored in Kelly's choreography.
"Too Late Now": Powell sings her third ballad, this time an open declaration of love, to Lawford.
Astaire in "You're All the World to Me""You're All the World to Me": In one of his best-known solos, Astaire dances on the walls and ceilings of his room because he has fallen in love with a beautiful woman who also loves to dance. The idea occurred to Astaire years before and was first mentioned by him in the MGM publicity publication Lion's Roar in 1945.
"I Left My Hat in Haiti": This number, essentially the work of dance director Nick Castle, involves Powell, Astaire, and chorus in a song and dance routine with a Latin theme.
Release Date: March 8, 1951 (USA)
Filming Locations: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios - 10202 W. Washington Blvd., Culver City, California, USA