Fred Astaire Movies

Dancing legend Fred Astaire was voted as the 5th greatest actor of all time by the American Film Institute.

Dancing legend Fred Astaire was voted as the 5th greatest actor of all time by the American Film Institute.

Want to know the best Fred Astaire movies?  How about the worst Fred Astaire movies?  Curious about Fred Astaire’s box office grosses or which Fred Astaire movie picked up the most Oscar® nominations? Need to know which Fred Astaire movie got the best reviews from critics and audiences and which got the worst reviews? Well you have come to the right place….because we have all of that information.

A little while ago, I got the idea that I needed to have a page for the Top 25 Classic Actors and the Top 25 Classic Actresses according to the American Film Institute. A quick check of my existing pages found I had already done movie pages on 19 of the actors and 10 of the actresses. So now that I have 21 pages to write, I figure I should get started with the 5th highest rated actor, Fred Astaire.

Fred Astaire (1899-1987) was born Frederick Austerlitz in Omaha, Nebraska. Fred Astaire’s first dance partner was his older sister Adele. They became a very popular vaudeville dance act when Fred Astaire was only 7 years old. By 1917 the brother and sister dancing act was already appearing on Broadway. In 1932 Adele retired from dancing and Fred moved to Hollywood to appear in movies. In 1933 he appeared in Flying Down To Rio. Astaire got 5th billing in the movie and his dance partner in the movie, Ginger Rogers got 4th billing. Reviewers singled out their dancing and the pair would be matched up 9 more times in their career.

The Rogers-Astaire team owned the box office for the rest of the 1930s. The pinnacle of their collarboration was 1935’s Top Hat which has some of the best dancing ever filmed for motion pictures. Fred Astaire had many successes without Ginger Rogers, as he appeared in the box office hits, Holiday Inn, Blue Skies, Easter Parade, and The Towering Inferno. His last movie was 1981’s Ghost Story which was almost 50 years after his screen debut.

His IMDb page shows 50 acting credits from 1933-1981. This page will rank 39 Fred Astaire movies from Best to Worst in six different sortable columns of information. Television appearances, cameos and some of his movies made outside of the Hollywood system were not included in the rankings.

Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in 1936's Swing Time

Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in 1936’s Swing Time

Fred Astaire Movies Can Be Ranked 6 Ways In This Table

The really cool thing about this table is that it is “user-sortable”. Rank the movies anyway you want.

  • Sort Fred Astaire movies by co-stars of his movies.
  • Sort Fred Astaire movies by adjusted domestic box office grosses using current movie ticket cost (in millions)
  • Sort Fred Astaire movies by adjusted worldwide box office grosses using current movie ticket cost (in millions)
  • Sort Fred Astaire movies how they were received by critics and audiences.  60% rating or higher should indicate a good movie.
  • Sort by how many Oscar® nominations each Fred Astaire movie received and how many Oscar® wins each Fred Astaire movie won.
  • Sort Fred Astaire movies by Ultimate Movie Rankings (UMR) Score.  UMR Score puts box office, reviews and awards into a mathematical equation and gives each movie a score.
  • Use the search and sort button to make this page very interactive.
  • ### If worldwide box office is the same as domestic box office…then worldwide grosses were not available.

Stats and Possibly Interesting Things From The Above Fred Astaire Table

  1. Twenty-six Fred Astaire movies crossed the magical $100 million domestic gross mark.  That is a percentage of 66.66% of his movies listed. The Towering Inferno (1974) was his biggest box office hit.
  2. An average Fred Astaire movie grosses $138.80 million in adjusted box office gross.
  3. Using RottenTomatoes.com’s 60% fresh meter.  32 Fred Astaire movies are rated as good movies…or 82.05% of his movies.  Top Hat (1935) is his highest rated movie while The Amazing Dobermans (1976) is his lowest rated movie.
  4. Twenty-four Fred Astaire movies received at least one Oscar® nomination in any category…..or 61.53% of his movies.
  5. Five Fred Astaire movies won at least one Oscar® in any category…..or 15.15% of his movies.
  6. An average Ultimate Movie Rankings (UMR) Score is 40.00.  33 Fred Astaire movies scored higher that average….or 84.16% of his movies.  Top Hat (1935) got the the highest UMR Score while The Amazing Dobermans (1976) got the lowest UMR Score.
Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn in 1957's Funny Face

Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn in 1957’s Funny Face

Possibly Interesting Facts About Fred Astaire

1. Fred Astaire survived a disastrous screen test. According to Astaire the result of the screen test was “He can’t act…his is going bald…also dances”. Others claim it said “Can’t act, can’t sing, going bald, can dance a little”….either way not a good screen test.

2. Between 1933 and 1939 Fred Astaire starred with Ginger Rogers in 9 movies. They would appear in their 10th and final film in 1949’s The Barkleys of Broadway. Their screen partnership is one of the greatest of all-time.

3. Fred Astaire was married twice in his life. He married Phyllis Potter in 1933 and they were married until 1954 when she passed away after a battle with cancer. Fred Astaire had three kids with Potter: step son Peter, son Fred Jr. and daughter Ava Astaire McKenzie. In 1980 he married Robyn Smith.

4. Fred Astaire received one Oscar® nomination for acting in his career. He was nominated but did not win Best Supporting Actor for 1974’s The Towering Inferno. He was given an Honorary Oscar® in 1950 “For unique artistry and his contributions to the technique of musical pictures”.

5. Fred Astaire received more love from the Golden Globe® voters as he received 5 Golden Globe® nominations. Those five movie were: The Towering Inferno, Finian’s Rainbow, The Pleasure of His Company, On The Beach and Three Little Words.

6. Fred Astaire became good friends with legendary music composer George Gershwin back in 1916 many years before they both would become famous.

7. Fred Astaire retired from movies after making 1946’s Blue Skies. He unretired as his fan support talked him back into making more movies….he returned in 1948 to replace an injured Fred Astaire in Easter Parade.

8. Fred Astaire insisted on a stationary camera rather than a moving camera to film dance numbers..it was a rule he stuck to over the years…always saying…..”Either I dance or the camera dances”.

9. Two famous roles Fred Astaire turned down…..the lead role in Yankee Doodle Dandy and the part of Bert on Mary Poppins.

10. Check out Fred Astaire career compared to current and classic actors.  Most 100 Million Dollar Movies of All-Time.

Academy Award® and Oscar® are the registered trademarks of the Academy of Motion Arts and Sciences.  Golden Globes® are the registered trademark and service mark of the Hollywood Foreign Press. 

AFI’s Top 25 Screen Legend Actors….with links to my movie pages on the Screen Legend

2.   Cary Grant

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115 thoughts on “Fred Astaire Movies

  1. HI BRUCE

    I’ve hit on Astaire this time for one of my private exercises and not that the WW gross for Towering Inferno is actually smaller than the domestic one? As is usual with your stats everything else is bang on..

    1. Hey Bob….it took awhile…..but Joel Hirschhorn’s Oscar winning The Towering Inferno has been fixed…sadly we do not have worldwide grosses for that monster hit.

      1. BRUCE & STEVE

        BRUCE
        1 Thanks for the clarification . IMDB, The Numbers and Wiki all quote a box office WW gross of $139.7 million for Towering Inferno – $116 domestic and $23.7 for overseas. However $23.7 seems awfully low against $116 million and Box Office Mojo refrains from attempting to quote a foreign gross which means that it like you is not certain that the existing overseas figures being quoted in the public domain are accurate There is normally a gap one way or the other between domestic and foreign but it’s unusual to see it as wide as in the figures just quoted. However taken at face value £139.7 equates to an adjusted WW gross of approx 655 million in 2017 dollars according to my ready reckoner.

        2 In summary however you and Mojo appear justified in confining yourselves to only the domestic figure. Indeed speaking for myself I would be wary of ANYTHING that was quoted about a project where Hirsch was involved! Nonetheless isn’t STEVE lucky that he doesn’t need to be concerned about the fine tuning of stats – a poster is a poster is a poster!!

        1. CORRECTION & APOLOGY

          In one of my references to 139.7 in my previous post I incorrectly typed in the £ instead of the $ sign. All figures quoted are of course in dollars. At one stage some time ago the Work Horse hinted we might have access to permanent correction facilities for our own posts and certainly such a provision would be helpful though I wouldn’t mind at times being able to correct some of the work of others such as Steve and John – and of course Superman Returns would at last get credited on this site to ALL people who had helped earn its gross!

          1. Hey Bob….yeah I am thinking that worldwide gross is way too low. You would think I would get the grosses right on Towering Inferno…but in fairness there are so many stars that have UMR pages from that movie….changes always mess me up. McQueen, Newman, Holden, Dunaway, Astaire, Jones…I guess the only one I am missing is on Mr. Joel Hirschhorn…..lol.

  2. 1 You will see that I have given myself top billing today by first posting a list of my own 36 all-time favourite movies. I do not have the knowledge/skills of Bruce and you to give them markings but that would be inappropriate anyway as I am not arguing that the entries are the BEST movies of all time but represent just my own arbitrary choices. Sorry I couldn’t return your favour with an accompanying video but I have done the next best thing by dedicating the list to you. If I do a list of my personal GROSS EARNINGS I will dedicate that to Bruce !

    YOUR FRED ASTAIRE VIDEO
    2 Most historians regard the definitive aspect of the career of either Fred or Ginger the 10 films they made together Bruce’s stats for the 10 are domestic gross of around $1.5 billion and a worldwide gross approximating to $2.5 billion which is a ratio of about 60%/40% in favour of domestic, and is therefore the highest ratio of Classic Era overseas grosses that I have personally encountered so far with the exception of those of Greta Garbo where the figures that Bruce has given us show foreign even slightly exceeding domestic.

    3 You have included in Fred’s chart all of the 10 Astaire/Rogers movies with undeniably in my view the best 5 in your Top 10. My only petty quibble with that is that Top Hat is not No 1 though The Band Wagon is also a respectable choice for the top spot. I see that for once though I am not outvoted as the Oracle agrees with ME !! and has and has Top Hat No 1 and Band Wagon No 4 for audience/critic rating.

    4 I agree with Let’s Dance and the awful Sky’s the Limit being bottom of the heap but I am surprised that You’ll Never get Rich (your No 22) is not higher because of the Astaire/Hayworth team magic but the other Astaire/Hayworth movie You were Never Lovelier gets a fine recognition at No 12 though inn relation to the BOTH movies you’re in step the Oracle this time !
    Astaire’s bread and butter genre lends itself well to your usual iconic poster reproductions.

    5 Ia a TV interview in later years Ginger complained that historians did not cherish her legend as much as Fred’s. Obviously he was happy with it all though as it is reported that shortly before he died he whispered “No regrets. I’ve had a good life!”

    BOB

    1. There’s a guy named John I chat with on IMDB and posts here sometimes and he had the same complaint as yours, Top Hat should be no.1 dammit!! 🙂 I told him that Top Hat is the quintessential Fred Astaire musical but The Band Wagon is regarded in some quarters as the greatest musical of them all, or second only to Singin’ in the Rain, and that makes a difference. I did not fudge the score, The Band Wagon did come out on top. I use a number of different sources for the ratings averages.

      I usually binge on Fred Astaire musicals at Xmas, Gene Kelly too.

      Thanks for an interesting read.

      1. STEVE

        1 Whilst musicals are the technical genre into which many of Fred’s movies fell I would argue that most people would have gone to see Astaire/Rogers for their dancing and in that respect experts have long contended that Astaire’s greatest dancing exhibition was in Top Hat.

        2 As for “the greatest MUSICAL of all times” you and John from IMDB are sadly both wrong as that is not The Band Wagon, not Singin’ in the Rain, not The Sound of Music but Guys and Dolls.

        Best wishes.BOB

        1. “Luck be a Lady toniiiight!” Guys and Dolls?? eek you’re joshing, no? you’d better avoid the Frank Sinatra video I uploaded earlier, Guys and Dolls is up there just not as high as you’d want it to be. On a happier note one of your favorites Not as a Stranger did get a good score.

          1. Hey Steve….I think we you finally realize just how good my UMR critical audience rating is….and just use it….then you will have some better ratings…lol. As for Top Hat versus Band Wagon….as a film buff with a limited knowledge of musicals….the Astaire musical I was most aware of was Top Hat….probably because of Cheek to Cheek….which is a scene I have seen so many different times….plus it has the Green Mile’s John Coffey on it’s side too.

            I am of course joking about your ratings versus my ratings……as the sources used will never match as long as we are using different ones….and not all the same ones….which if we did that…..it would limit the conversation for sure….thanks for the interesting comments between you and Bob.

        2. Hey Bob….I must have missed your Top 36 All-Time movies. Where did you list them? I will have to do some research on your most recent comments.

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