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Old Fashioned

Gene Kelly

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Today would have been his 91st birthday. This should be a time to remember the great legacy he left behind.

What about him was so appealing to you?

Now, I think I'll go have a Kelly movie marathon, starting off with "An American in Paris" and "Singin' in the Rain"...

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I like a black and white film he made with Judy Garland called "For Me and My Gal." Was that his first film?

Had the pleasure of meeting him at a party too. :blushing:

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Yep, his film debut.

OOOH, I'm so jealous you got to meet him! What was he like? :blushing:

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It was only a cordial "Nice to meet you. I enjoyed the performance."

The same party had Esther Williams, Ann Miller, Rita Moreno, Julie Andrews and more as guests. It was 1983 and I mostly remember the females. :blushing:

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I had an encounter with him that was considerably briefer than Glebb's.

Around the time "That's Entertainment," came out, the City of New York bestowed an honor on Kelly and Astaire. I crashed the outdoor ceremony, being on my own time but on the staff of the public official who made the presentation. After the silver bowl was handed to Kelly, it was put aside for temporary safekeeping -- into my hands! (Another aide held Astaire's). I had hoped to mention that I'd taken some classes from his brother, Fred, but was too tongue-tied. :blushing: So after the ceremony broke up, I silently handed him the bowl, and he said, "Thank you." :wallbash:

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Last year when my younger daughter was 9, she and I came out to Southern California for a couple weeks so she could attend an abbreviated ballet SI. On our last day in town my uncle took us to do the "tourist thing" in Hollywood. We parked near the Kodak theater. And we walked blocks and blocks and blocks down the Walk of Fame on a HOT day.

I got home afterward and uploaded the day's photos; the last one on the card was my daughter beaming, doing a perfect toestand on Gene Kelly's star. The silver tennies were no less effective than her black and white taps would have been. On the long walk back, her step was lighter. By the second block she was dancing. I wish there had been puddles that day. And it's the only time I've ever been able to capture her in a toestand.

Besides the amazing dancing, Gene Kelly just seemed so EXUBERANT in his films. Some performers, when they take the stage, inspire smiles by their very presence. So many years later, even knowing how long ago the movies were filmed, HIS smiles still bring sunshine when we watch. My husband enjoys watching the films, and even my non-dancing daughter joins in. I don't own "Singin' in the Rain," but every time I rent it (yes, I should just buy it. go figure) the kids watch it at least four or five times.

I remember the disappointment when my kids realized that the movies were so old and he'd passed away. My younger daughter once said, on one of those "If you could go back in time and meet someone...." questions, that she'd like to meet Gene Kelly and Eleanor Powell. Now she doesn't get to tap much because she goes to a prepro ballet school and the offerings are limited. But she still loves to watch the old song and dance movies. Gene Kelly is still a favorite.

Incidentally, my dad used to play cards with Donald O'Connor. But we've never met him either.

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I wish I would have known that it would have been Gene Kelly's birthday today (well, technically yesterday). I would have been tapping everywhere I went to celebrate:). I love watching all of the old musicals, with Singin' in the Rain being my favorite. I didn't even see the movie until I was 20, and once I realized that Gene Kelly was gone, it was sad.:blushing:

I agree with the above post that if given the opportunity, I would love to have met both Gene Kelly and Eleanor Powell. They are both wonderful tappers. I have been fortunate enough to have met both Debbie Reynolds and Donald O'Connor, though, so at least I had the opportunity to meet two great performers. I also loved the story about your daughter, Shanynrose; it is quite amazing the impact that these performers have made on our lives.

:)Heather

I'll have to watch the movies and go hunt for some puddles. :wallbash:

Edited by arabesque42

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Ah, Gene Kelly, my first school girl crush. For those too young to remember--there was a time when one could go to the movies any time of the day and sit through continuous performances of the same film--this is what I did when I saw "For Me and My Gal"--I sat through 3 shows :rolleyes: Gene Kelly is one dancer who could have played all of the sailors in 'Fancy Free" to perfection. Imagine!--someone could have made a film of him dancing all the solos and then splicing them together---what a show!

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What do I find so appealing about Gene Kelly? He combined great musicality with great masculine athleticism. Every muscle in his body oozed expressiveness. I love watching him dance with Donald O'Connor. They are both such appealing dancers yet Kelly brings an extra something to the dance. It's in his eyes, the tilt of his head, the use of his shoulders....

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:yes: Just want to put in a word for "An American in Paris." Perhaps the big, concluding ballet is somewhat disjointed, but there are so many other numbers -- the smaller ones -- that always make me giggle with delight, especially "By Strauss" and "I Got Rhythm" (with the adorable youngsters). Plus, there's all that intoxicating Gershwin playing under, over, and in between the action. :party:

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Oh, we loved "An American in Paris" too!

And in the "That's Entertainment" compilation, the scene where he danced on the ceiling was great. I don't remember what it was taken from.

But it was magical, just magical.

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Besides the amazing dancing, Gene Kelly just seemed so EXUBERANT in his films.  Some performers, when they take the stage, inspire smiles by their very presence.  So many years later, even knowing how long ago the movies were filmed, HIS smiles still bring sunshine when we watch. 

That's exactly what I wanted to say about him.

I loved reading all of your wonderful comments on Kelly. I miss him. :wink: Watching him on film never fails to put me in a cheerful mood.

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Another thing for the male filmgoer -- Kelly seemed to have being a "Regular Joe" going for him. When he burst into dance, it was part of his personality, and was viewed by the average man as being entirely correct. No question of masculinity with Kelly, no matter how isolated the man viewing might have been from dance.

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I find his macho a trifle pushy at times, candidly, but it may be just me.

"For Me and My Gal" was indeed his first film. The little scene of the two of them singing the title song together is one of my all-time favorite movie moments.

I always thought Garland and Kelly were underrated as a screen team --you can also see them in "The Pirate" and "Summer Stock." I sometimes find Kelly a little overbearing, but you rarely see this tendency when he's with her. It's not only that he defers to Garland as the bigger star, but his admiration and respect for her come through clearly. It's too bad that circumstances prevented their doing more movies together.

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Well, I would go beyond calling it male athleticism. The guy was sexy! And, I have to tell you that as much as I loved him in his 'dance movies,' he was equally appealing to me when he wasn't dancing.

Case in point, my favorite Kelly movie was "Marjorie Morningstar." That film, based on Herman Wouk's book of same name, was a rite of passage for all teenage girls. And, here's where I make my case about loving movies that are not about dance but include dance being more appealing to me than dance movies, per se. There is a scene in "Marjorie Morningstar," where Kelly is giving direction to a young dancer in a summer stock production about the right way to perform a combination. He does it the wrong way first -- throwing his body around in a very overt, vaudevillian way. Then he does it in the correct way -- moving with a subtlely seductive flair that astounds me every time I view it.

His acting in that movie is also incredibly poignant. And the chemistry between him and Natalie Wood, who also dances in the movie, is amazing.

Also loved him in "40 Carats" with Liv Ullman. He looks just like my dad in that film -- gotta love it!

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"American in Paris" was my favorite movie for eons; I dug it out today and watched it again. You have to put yourself into the mind-set of the time the movie was made; at that time it was like no other musical and it was sensational. It won an Oscar for Best Picture of the Year. As Carbro says, it didn't hurt to have all that gorgeous Gershwin music in the background; watching Oscar Lavant play it was thrilling. I think Kelly was at his best in that movie.

Giannina

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Please note the following is Just My Opinion and I mean to impugn no one's taste, but An American in Paris is one of my least favorite musicals. I can fully understand how appealing the movie must have been at the time, but I have to say the only number that really stands up for me is Georges Guétary's charming "Stairway to Paradise." Otherwise, well it looks good, and there's Leslie Caron in all her youthful bucktoothed charm. I find the dancing especially disappointing. The balletic style is not Kelly's strong suit, and the choreography in the big Yes, Virginia, Another Dream Ballet is hardly more than posing. It's also worth noting that the big romantic duet has little impact see also "Singin' in the Rain." (Kelly is sexy but not romantic. I've always loved him best in his solos, and he is by nature primarily a hoofer and not a ballroom or balletic dancer.)

Funny Face, thank you for pointing out that Kelly was often persuasive in straight roles. I happen to query the idea of casting someone so very Irish as Noel Airman (even in a version of the book that completely eliminated ANY Jewish references!!!), but he was good elsewhere. I quite enjoyed his d'Artagnan, too.

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You have to put yourself into the mind-set of the time the movie was made; at that time it was like no other musical and it was sensational.

I just came upon it this summer and thought it was sensational! I thought the love story was a bit underdeveloped, but the music, singing, and dancing made it for me. All of the songs are now among my favorites and as for the dream ballet at the end, I only saw it as jazz en pointe, not as a serious attempt at creating a ballet. Whatever you want to call it, I thought it was enjoyable, nontheless.

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Dirac, just had to ask, despite Kelly not being Jewish, didn't you think his conversation with the mother was incredibly believable? That conversation at the table when the parents are visiting South Wind is the crux of the story. And his well-controlled seething as he defends himself is extremely credible to me. Even though I am not Jewish, that movie and book were rites of passage for me. And without Kelly in the part, I never would have loved that movie like I did. Kelly has such a range in that film -- when he tearfully pleads his case, stripping himself of all dignity, before the money backers of his play -- doesn't every girl just want to comfort him?

And again, he just looks so much like my dad, he's like "Everyman" -- he's so much the essence of the American male. (Who more to compare a guy to than a girl's dad?!?) :)

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Have any of you read the book by Kelly's former wife, Betsy Blair "The memory of all that". The first half in particular is a fascinating and her referances to him are always with great respect and love. I personally thoroughly enjoyed this book. Her later life is very interesting in it's own right!

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My favourite Gene Kelly movie is Brigadoon. I know, I know, it is very hammy, dancing, story. But... I just like it.

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Brigadoon isn't too bad; its worst flaw is that it's really a stage show done on a sound stage and not a location. Movies had come a long way from Lugosi's Dracula, and there was no reason to do a show in that manner. Clearly not Kelly's fault.

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That it isn't done on location is something that I like about the movie. For some reason I think that it hightens the fantasy element of the movie, maybe making it seem like a story from a fairy-tale book come to life. I can't really explain fully why I like it, I just do.

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It's been a while since I've seen it, but I remember especially liking Judy and Gene in 'The Portland Fancy' dance from "Summer Stock." :grinning:

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Does that book mention the fire in which he lost all the memorabilia of his work?

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