France on Film: An American in Paris (1951)

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I’ll admit I felt a little cheeky snagging An American in Paris for Serendipitous Anachronism‘s “France on Film” blogathon, despite what might seem like an obvious choice given the title. That’s because, as you may already know, An American in Paris‘ actual depiction of France is, in … Read More

MGM at 90: Gene Kelly

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Few other performers can claim the title of “triple threat” so handily as Gene Kelly did with MGM in the 1940s and ’50s as an actor, a singer, and, of course, a dancer. But his career wasn’t limited to only those three titles; throughout the course of his professional life, he was also a producer, a director, a writer, a choreographer, and, all the while, an athlete. For a studio that claimed “more stars than there are in heaven,” Kelly was one of their brightest, an indelible association with the genre MGM took to new heights: the movie musical.

Take Me Out to the Ball Game (1949)

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Baseball’s back in full swing, and as part of Forgotten Films‘ baseball blogathon, I’ve chosen to cover a very fun baseball movie that, admittedly, is perhaps not the most stellar example of actual gameplay: 1949’s Take Me Out to the Ball Game. It’s a fun, somewhat historical counterpoint to many baseball movies that choose to focus on real ball players or, you know, real ball games. But no matter, because what this one may lack in authenticity of sport, it more than makes up for in movie musical cred: it’s directed by Busby Berkeley, produced by Arthur Freed, with a story by Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen, and choreography by Gene himself. It’s also one of three glorious instances where we see Gene teamed up with Frank Sinatra, so, really, there’s not too much to complain about.

Cover Girl (1944)

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After seeing Patricia Ward Kelly’s show, “Gene Kelly: A Legacy,” I was dismayed to find that there were still a handful of performances that his widow considered to be among his best that I had still not yet seen. For (my) reference, those were: The Three Musketeers, Thousands Cheer, Words and Music, Cover Girl, Living in a Big Way, and Brigadoon. I covered Words and Music a few weeks back—it happily doubled as a That’s Entertainment entry, which is always a plus for me—but today I decided to set my sights on a film containing Kelly working alongside one of my favorite classic actresses, Rita Hayworth.

Patricia Ward Kelly on Gene Kelly: The Legacy

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Patricia Ward Kelly starts her one-woman show, “Gene Kelly: The Legacy,” by addressing a few pertinent questions about her late husband: he was 5′ 8″; he got his distinctive facial scar from a tricycle accident as a kid; and they met while filming a TV documentary series about the Smithsonian. She also candidly addresses the question perhaps most on the mind of curious audience members expecting to see a frail, 90-year-old woman, instead of the vibrant young speaker before them: when they met, she was 26 and Gene was 73.

For Me and My Gal (1942)

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Judging by its lofty pedigree on paper, For Me and My Gal should really be one of cinema’s most enduring and classic musicals. Not only was it directed by Busby Berkeley and produced by Arthur Freed, but it was Judy Garland’s first “adult” role, and, furthermore, Gene Kelly’s film debut. And yet it remains one of the more underseen Garland and/or Kelly and/or Berkeley pictures of the era, in part because, well… it’s a bit dark.

The [Plural Nouns] of [French Town] (1964, 1967)

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I’m taking a step back from a somewhat overwhelming stockpile of musicals in my DVR to get back to the basics, continuing on my “That’s Entertainment” list and just generally being open to watching new things, without the threat of Warning! Your DVR is currently 98% full!. That’s not the most conducive environment for watching films, so I’m going to go through my list and identify those that are most important to my overall education.

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