I have been laughing my head off at the triplets clip from the movie Band Wagon, which someone had posted in the YouTube thread.
My question is…how did they DO that? The Wikipedia article says they are dancing on their knees, but then how are they bouncing their “legs” when they’re in the high chairs? (And how do they “jump” out of the chairs?)
“…shooting the fiendishly simple-looking Triplets number was an exercise in masochism, with the three actors’ legs bound to allow them hop off those high chairs - onto their knees. They needed novocaine shots to keep filming.”
“Another musical sequence, the bizarre “Triplets,” shows Astaire, Fabray and Buchanan all apparently midgets dressed as babies, sliding down from their high chairs and dancing. Since we see their feet hit the floor and special effects seem impossible, how did they do it? By balancing on artificial legs strapped to their knees, Fabray reports; they fell dozens of times before getting it right, and relied on pain-killers.”
At the risk of destroying a nice illusion, their real legs are right there in plain view, with the fake legs attached to the front. You just can’t see the real legs because they’re clad in black on a black background. It’s a very old trick, but very effective, if you get the lighting and exposure just right.
When they jump out of the chairs, they’re really just dropping to their knees. Notice how widely the chair legs are splayed out? Even so, if you watch closely, you can see Astaire’s leggings (or whatever) passing in front of the chair leg as he drops down.
But it’s a marvelous performance. Imagine dancing on your knees like that! Ouch.
(Wait. “Dance on your knees!” Where have I heard that? Dare I admit I’ve seen a Hall and Oates video?)
And while my hat’s off to Astaire, Fabray and Buchanan, I don’tunderstand why they were forced to dance on their knees. Simply raising the stage where the high chairs were, while leaving the dance floor at “ground level” would have allowed them to pull the effect off without risk of serious injury.
My guess is that she’s actually just barely on her feet at that point, maybe just on her toes. Her knees are not touching the floor.
Actually, that’s the only part of the “dance” that looks difficult to me. The rest of it is just right-together-left-together on the knees to the beat. Ouchy, sure, after a whole day of shooting, but not particularly hard. I do that in the garden every summer!
Help me visualize this. If her knees are not touching the floor, she has shifted her weight backwards so she is in a squat position, balanced on the balls of her feet. And from that position, she swings her knees to make the fake legs do the equivalent of clicking their heels. Then she has to shift her weight forward to complete the rest of the scene.
I saw something, but I was wrong about exactly what I saw. Just before Fred jumps down, my eye caught his leg moving in front of the chair’s back leg, which is only partly visible, and only for a moment.
That’s the part that I said *did *look difficult (but not impossible, I just did it, although I admit I needed a chair back to steady me…but I also suspect she was in a lot better shape than me!) It’s just shifting from a kneel to your feet and then bringing your knees close together.