Music Makes Me: Fred Astaire and Jazz
by Todd Decker
University of California Press, 375 pp., $70.00; $29.95 (paper)
The Astaires: Fred and Adele
by Kathleen Riley
Oxford University Press, 241 pp., $27.95
Now that The Artist has whetted our interest in the silent film and the revolutionary impact of sound, it may be time to reconsider the career of the man who made the conversion to sound the basis of a whole new kind of movie, Fred Astaire. Astaire and the difference he made to the film musical add up to more than the story of one career. No other film genre provided as perfect a synchronization of sight and sound or an experience as exhilarating, and that was very largely Astaire’s doing.