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.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Gene Kelly - 100 !

They couldn't get 100 candles on the cake
We are taking a moment to celebrate that Gene Kelly would be 100 this year - and of course any excuse to print another still from one of our favourite movies LES GIRLS from 1957. There's Taina, Kay and Mitzi with Gene above.

I have to confess I don't actually care for SINGING IN THE RAIN or AN AMERICAN IN PARIS that much any more, BRIGADOON is so-so, but I absolutely love every frame of 1955's ITS ALWAYS FAIR WEATHER and LES GIRLS, Gene's last musical in '57 and that one is really about the Girls and not him. Of course he also directed Barbra in HELLO DOLLY which we like a lot more now than we did back in 1969 .... and then there's his terrific '40s films like ON THE TOWN (Gene always looked great in a sailor suit...) and his amazing physicality in THE PIRATE, no longer so under-rated.   So, a quick celebration of Gene then .... he may have been, by several accounts, a hard task-master to work with - but what remains is what is up there on the screen. 

I got close to Gene back in 1975 when he was recording a Michael Parkinson TV show for the BBC at the Mayfair Hotel here in London, which was a great show, and Gene signed my copy of that then new biography of him by Clive Hirshhorn, and was very pleasant. Left: another delirious number from THE PIRATE.
See labels for more on Gene and those movies
Gene, Dan, Michael and fantabulous Dolores Gray - Its Always Fair Weather, where's Cyd?


  1. Here in the states they did a whole 24 hours of his films on Turner Classics and I was able to catch a few. Nothing I hadn't seen before but one was The Pirate which hadn't seen it in years and he was better and much sexier than I remember especially in that tiny and tight pirate costume in the dream sequence. Judy was in beautiful voice of course but so jittery I thought she'd jump out of her skin.
    Like you I just don't think An American in Paris is that great and I abhor Brigadoon, a little Van Johnson goes a long, long way for me and while Cyd Charisse was a fine dancer I always feel when watching her that she thinks so too and it mars her work, give me Vera-Ellen any day.
    I don't know if he ever made a film I find totally enjoyable. Singing in the Rain rests on Jean Hagen and to a much lesser extent Debbie Reynolds. Les Girls would be nothing without Kay Kendall. He always worked well with Judy Garland and of their two other films together Summer Stock is Judy's film if only because her constantly changing weight is distracting and she blows away everything that came before in the final Get Happy number. For Me and My Gal is good until that overly earnest last half hour.
    I never been able to get much out of It's Always Fair Weather and all I remember from Anchors Aweigh is his dance with Jerry the mouse.
    When he went dramatic he was usually unmemorable at best, he adds nothing to Black Hand, Pilot #5 and The Cross of Lorraine, although that is a shockingly violent picture for when it was made, the censors must have been asleep the day it passed through. He is ghastly in The Three Musketeers, perhaps his worst work.
    The one film of his I've always wanted to see but it is frustratingly elusive is Christmas Holiday with Deanna Durbin, I know it's very dark and different for them both but sadly unavailable.

  2. Very interesting comments on Gene. He can be quite unlikeable at times - he is mean to Nina Foch in PARIS and to Jean Hagen in RAIN, where his self-regard gets a bit too much. Indeed Kay Kendall is the star of LES GIRLS, Gene is just a hired hand here, his send-up of Brando in that number of Mitzi is amusing though.
    Give ITS ALWAYS FAIR WEATHER another chance - his self-depreciating heel is nicely done as is the numbers on roller skales and garbage bin covers. Cyd is mesmermising in her number at the gym, Dailey has some great moments and again the fantabulous Dolores Gray does the amazing "thanks a lot but no thanks" number in THAT dress, and it is all an amusing satire on television and advertising (Klenzrite washing powder here).
    I had forgot SUMMER STOCK - its one of my favourite Garlands, it and THE PIRATE must be the best of his 40s, apart from ON THE TOWN of course.

  3. Those ARE interesting comments on Gene indeed. I can see Joel's points but I'm a big Gene fan so he doesn't do much wrong in my eyes anyway.

    Where's Cyd?...........In our hearts and memory of course. Also; In all the other lobby cards for "It's Always Fair Weather."

    Speaking of that movie.....It's one of Gene's best and a favorite of mine. Everybody is so good in it. (I have blogged about it before but it's hard to say enough.) Yes. Dolores is jaw-dropping in that dress. I would have liked to have been one of her chorus boys.

    I agree that "On The Town" is great and Gene's more famous works like "Singing In The Rain" and "American In Paris" haven't worn off yet.

  4. There are previous posts here on Cyd and Dolores and on ITS ALWAYS FAIR WEATHER and ON THE TOWN and lots on LES GIRLS - just click on the labels (Musicals, Cyd Charisse, Dolores Gray, Kay Kendall) to bring them up.