LGBTQ South Florida

Janis Paige discusses ‘Silk Stockings,’ newly released on Blu-ray

Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse in ‘Silk Stockings,’ newly released in high definition on Blu-ray.
Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse in ‘Silk Stockings,’ newly released in high definition on Blu-ray. Warner Archive

Cole Porter’s “Silk Stockings,” the 1957 MGM musical starring Fred Astaire, Cyd Charisse and Janis Paige, comes to high definition and Blu-ray on Tuesday.

The film, directed by Rouben Mamoulian and based on the 1955 Broadway musical — which in turn came from Greta Garbo’s 1939 classic, “Ninotchka” — is about a Soviet envoy (Charisse) who meets and falls in love with an American played by Astaire.

“Silk Stockings” (Warner Archive, $22) reunited Astaire and Charisse, who co-starred in the 1953 MGM hit, “The Band Wagon.”

Co-starring with Astaire and Charisse: Peter Lorre, Jules Munshin and then-Broadway star Paige.

In March, Paige — now 93 —told the Miami Herald about making “Silk Stockings,” in which she performed “Stereophonic Sound” with Astaire (and nearly stole the film).

The number, choreographed by Hermes Pan, had the stars literally swinging from a chandelier.

“It was hard work, believe me,” Paige told the Herald. “I was one mass of bruises. I didn’t know how to fall. I didn’t know how to get down on a table — I didn’t know how to save myself because I was never a classic dancer. Those are the tips you learn when you learn how to dance.

“Fred never knew it, but he was so great. He would come in in the morning and say, ‘I have a great idea for a step. You think you can do this?’ I never said know to him. I wouldn't dare say no to Fred Astaire. Especially when we did the end of it, when you have to catch the chandelier and swing out over all those people. He showed me and said, ‘You think you can do that?’ And I said, ‘Sure, I can do that.’ Not knowing if I was going to fall on my face or not. I didn’t.”

Paige, the original 1954 star of Broadway’s “The Pajama Game,” said she and Astaire worked weeks planning and rehearsing “Stereophonic Sound.”

“They were generous. Of course we had time in those days,” she says. “They would take an hour or two to light a set sometimes. It was nothing like it is today, where they don’t care whether you’re lit or not. I’m not speaking about everybody, but I’ve even seen my shadow in shots and they let it go by. It’s sloppy stuff to me. But they took time to have that quality that the studios demanded.”

To read the complete Janis Paige interview, click here.

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