Aug 15, 2007

Meet Monsieur Kelly

As August here at HCC is not only the mark of what would be legendary dancer, actor, and all-around hotness Gene Kelly's 95th birthday, but also the month in which he is bestowed, posthumously, the petit homage of being our Star of the Month, I am more than happy to familiarize you with King Kelly in a summary of his best, can't-miss films below:

Anchors Aweigh, 1945 - Kelly teamed up with popular crooner Frank Sinatra in three separate films, but Anchors Aweigh has the added heft of operatic wonder Kathryn Grayson (and the inarguable appeal of the absence of google-eyed Broadway boy Jules Munshin, who appears in Kelly and Sinatra's other two films). The pair's onscreen camaraderie is irresistible as they, amorous sailors both, chase dames while on leave in Los Angeles and fall for the same pretty lady.

The Pirate
and The Three Musketeers, both 1948 - The corral of stars at MGM is legendary, ostensibly more populous than even the heavens. So while it may have been simple studio policy to pair Gene with the beautiful likes of Judy Garland (The Pirate), June Allyson and Lana Turner (both, The Three Musketeers), minor romantic history is made in each of these, where Kelly gets a chance to flex his comedic talent as well as his, well, more athletic side. Swarthy and swashbuckling, Gene makes each of these star-studded films a true delight, whether he's running from the law on horseback, slashing sails with his sword or smothering any of his helpless leading ladies with his ever-appealing ardor. Swoon!

Singin in the Rain
, 1952 - Often cited as a hallmark in Kelly's filmography and hailed as one of the best, if not the absolute best, musicals of all time, Singin stars Gene along with newcomer Debbie Reynolds, all of 19 here, Donald O'Connor, Jean Hagen, and the inimitable Cyd Charisse. With an unforgettable score laden with Arthur Freed classics and dazzling Technicolor setting, this flick is a must!

An American in Paris, 1951 - I personally harbor an intense dislike for this movie, as it can be perceived as so cultivated and entrenched in the artistic aspects of its story - particularly Kelly's dance interpretations of classical paintings - as to potentially alienate viewers, not to mention mire the whole semi-credible plot in grating dialogue, forgettable music and seemingly-endless montages of its stars (I think Oscar Levant plays piano in a dream sequence for, honestly, an hour and twenty-seven minutes). If you can ignore Georges Guetary and Levant's screen time and simply revel in the heavenly hoofer that is Gene Kelly, then this one will prove a gem. Don't miss his heart-meltingly romantic rendition of "Our Love Is Here To Stay", either!

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