July 30, 2008

"The Continental"

Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire

"The Continental" was written by Con Conrad with lyrics by Herb Magidson and was introduced by Ginger Rogers in the 1934 film The Gay Divorcee (snicker). "The Continental" won the first Academy Award for Best Original Song to be awarded. Here is the scene in which it was used:

A way of dancing that's really ultra-new!

Comedian Allan Sherman performed "The Painless Dentist Song," a parody of the tune, and it was also used in a 1980's television commercial in the United Kingdom for Herta Frankfurters:

The lyrics so you can sing along at home, especially my U.K. visitors!:

"The continentals like their furters, and Herta's one they really like.
They like to grill them, it always thrills them, go on, take a bite.
Cold in the salad, or from the barbie, microwave them they're always out of sight.
For baked potatoes, just heat them, they're really wild with rice.
They make a feature on a pizza, make hot dogs very nice..."

You are welcome (in advance!) for that. Nelson Riddle applied his "rhythm of the heart" to it for the Sinatra version from the Chairman's 1964 album, Days of Wine and Roses, Moon River and Other Academy Award Winners. Another Sinatra arranger, Billy May, has a similarly swingin' version on Big Fat Brass.

And of course the wildly romantic sentiment of the lyric and the dashing bravado of the melody inspired the recurring Saturday Night Live skit with Christopher Walken, appearing as simply, "The Continental":


Frank Jump said...

Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire doesn't get any gayer!

Chris said...

Really? What about them is gay? Is it Astaire? It's amazing how many of the songs Sinatra recorded were done decades before by Astaire (for example, "Cheek to Cheek" and "The Way You Look Tonight"). I guess I share his love for the music of these old musicals, in spite of their "gayness."

Michael Suzich said...

By "gayer", I'm sure you mean "happier"... By 1934 standards, just about any male moviegoer would not have minded emulating the style of Fred Astaire.

Chris said...

Well, The Beatles thought he was cool enough for him to earn a place among all those pop culture influences on the cover of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. And I think I've read somewhere that McCartney cites Astaire for influencing him to write songs like "Honey Pie." That's all I need to know!