Royal Wedding (1951) - Rotten Tomatoes

Royal Wedding1951

Royal Wedding (1951)



Critic Consensus: Vintage MGM musical stuff, characterized by Stanley Donen's fleet direction and some amazing dance performances from star Fred Astaire.

Royal Wedding Photos

Movie Info

Two real-life events were incorporated into the plot of the 1951 MGM musical Royal Wedding. One, the marriage of Fred Astaire's sister Adele to a British nobleman had occurred years earlier; the other, the wedding of England's Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip was only four years in the past. MGM would probably have gotten Royal Wedding out closer to the Elizabeth-Philip nuptials, but the picture had leading-lady problems; every girl who was cast either became pregnant, ill, or otherwise unavailable. Finally, Jane Powell was cast as the sister and partner of American-entertainer Fred Astaire. The plot has Astaire and Powell heading to Merrie Olde England to perform at the palace. Once they've arrived, Powell breaks up the act when she falls in love with blueblooded Peter Lawford. Astaire himself finds romance in the form of Sarah Churchill (daughter of Sir Winston), and the four happy campers gleefully attend the titular Windsor Castle wedding. Also in the cast is Albert Sharpe, fresh from his Broadway triumph in Finian's Rainbow, and Keenan Wynn, hilarious as twin cousins. The plot is so light that it threatens to float away at times, but Royal Wedding sticks in the memory thanks to its first-rate musical numbers. The Astaire/Powell duets are entertaining enough; the real magic, however, occurs in Astaire's two solos: the hat-rack duet and the now-legendary tap-dance on the ceiling (even knowing how this cinematic legerdemain was accomplished does not detract from its brilliance and virtuosity). Because it has slipped into public domain, Royal Wedding is one of the most easily accessible of all the Fred Astaire musicals. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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Fred Astaire
as Tom Bowen
Jane Powell
as Ellen Bowen
Peter Lawford
as Lord John Brindale
Sarah Churchill
as Anne Ashmond
Keenan Wynn
as Irving Klinger/Edgar Klinger
Albert Sharpe
as James Ashmond
Viola Roache
as Sarah Ashmond
Alex Frazer
as Chester
Jack Reilly
as Pete Cumberly
Francis Bethencourt
as Charles Gordon
Bess Flowers
as Woman Guest
Mae Clarke
as Telephone Operator No. 1
Richard Lupino
as Singing Elevator Boy
Stanley Mann
as Cabdriver
Phyllis Morris
as Singing Woman
Leonard Mudie
as Singing Doorman
David Thursby
as Singing Bobby
Wilson Wood
as Drinker
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Critic Reviews for Royal Wedding

All Critics (24) | Top Critics (5)

Almost wall-to-wall dancing, with a vengeance.

November 14, 2016 | Full Review…

This is an engaging concoction of songs and dances in a standard musical framework, brightly dressed in color to show off its physical attributes.

August 6, 2008 | Full Review…

A pleasant enough score by Burton Lane and Alan Jay Lerner, helped out by Donen's stylish direction.

June 24, 2006 | Full Review…

One swell number, three or four that are good, a laugh here, a laugh there; colored newsreels of the British royal wedding and so long pal. Mr. Astaire has fared better in his lifetime -- and he has also fared much worse.

March 25, 2006 | Rating: 3.5/5 | Full Review…

This is the one in which Fred Astaire dances on the ceiling, an impeccably executed bit of movie magic and a sublime expression of Donen's love for the medium.

January 1, 2000 | Full Review…

...for just a moment in Stanley Donen's Royal Wedding we believe that love can make us weightless.

December 28, 2018 | Rating: 6/10 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Royal Wedding


If you love silly love stories with song and dance numbers and a happy ending, you'll like this movie, not love it, but like it. Personally I was bored with all the dancing, and the story didn't keep my interest, but it's not that bad.

Aj V
Aj V

Super Reviewer

I wasnt crazy about Jane Powell's singing but hey! its fred Astaire. DANCING ON THE CIELING! nothing can go wrong. His girl is not that pretty though...

Morgan Salem
Morgan Salem

Super Reviewer


I think MGM musicals are delightful little jewels, no matter how formulaic they can get. And Stanley Donen is the king of all things singing and dancing. So naturally this was going to be good before I even saw it. The dancing is top notch and Jane Powell is so adorable even though I don't like her voice. And Fred Astaire is ageless, floats with a grace I've never seen on anyone else. It's definitely not the best musical I've ever seen but it's thoroughly enjoyable (even though the girl Astaire got with at the end is ugly...) escapsim!

Jennifer Xu
Jennifer Xu

Super Reviewer

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