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George GershwinHis Life and Work$
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Howard Pollack

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780520248649

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520248649.001.0001

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From Swing Is King (1936) to A Damsel in Distress (1937)

From Swing Is King (1936) to A Damsel in Distress (1937)

(p.665) Chapter Thirty-Five From Swing Is King (1936) to A Damsel in Distress (1937)
George Gershwin

Howard Pollack

University of California Press

In the first half of 1936, Gershwin published little new music other than a song, “King of Swing,” that helped fill out an all-Gershwin revue, Swing Is King, at the Radio City Music Hall. The Gershwins had shown interest in working on an Astaire–Rogers musical as early as October 1935. George and Ira completed the score in early December, and during production in early 1937, the film was renamed Shall We Dance. For Astaire's next picture, RKO decided, at Gershwin's suggestion, to adapt P. G. Wodehouse's 1919 novel A Damsel in Distress. Like Shall We Dance, though more subtly, the film engages the theme of high versus low art; patron of a madrigal consort, Lady Caroline disapproves of jazz, the music her stepson adores, even if he is forced to oblige her preference for traditional English music.

Keywords:   George Gershwin, King of Swing, Music Hall, Radio City, Shall We Dance, Astaire–Rogers musical, P. G. Wodehouse, jazz

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