Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Hermes and Cyd on musicals ...

A fascinating new documentary on Sky Arts cable channel: Hermes Pan and Cyd Charisse on musicals, titled BROADWAY TO HOLLYWOOD. It of course re-cycles old interviews with a host of dazzling clips. I am not sure though about the morality of putting old stars' interviews into new material, making them work - as it were - after their lifetime ...

The very dapper Hermes Pan, with that useful resemblance to Fred Astaire, was born in 1909 (of Greek extraction) and died aged 81 in 1990. He was choreographer on Astaire pictures, including all the ones with Ginger Rogers, whom he danced with in other films as well. Hermes was one of the best choreographers and dance directors, choreographing, among others, dances in CLEOPATRA, MY FAIR LADY, PAL JOEY, CAN CAN, THE STUDENT PRINCE, JUPITER'S DARLING and others, as well as lots of tv shows. It is just fascinating hearing him discuss how they worked to create the magic we still experience now watching them. Charisse too was the ultimate professional during her long career, and a very edurite commentator on the old studio days. (Below: Hermes with Fred, and Ginger). The other great choreographer was of course the very individual Jack Cole at Fox, who did all those terrific Monroe and Jane Russell numbers.

Cyd - whom I loved seeing in musicals as a child - BRIGADOON, THE BANDWAGON, ITS ALWAYS FAIR WEATHER, SILK STOCKINGS etc - the former Tula Ellice Finklea from Amarillo, Texas - was always a very elegant dancer, trained for ballet, in movies since the '40s, died aged 87 in 2008 (born 1921). I saw her in a London show in the 80s - a silly revival of CHARLY GIRL - but I had to say I had seen Cyd Charisse dance!

This documentary is artfully put together with lots of clips, Hermes chatting in a bar, and Cyd walking around the old MGM lot. Its as affecting as Fred walking past the remains of that train [where he sang "By Myself" at the start of THE BANDWAGON] in the THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT movie. This is more of the same - but for style and elegance Cyd and Hermes were hard to beat.

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