Sunday, December 23, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from The Gene Scene. Many thanks to Laura Virgil, who years ago sent me this amazing Christmas card!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

How to Get Your Kids Interested in the Classics (Classic Movies, That Is...)

Every parent wants their children to be happy, healthy, and well educated...and it wouldn't hurt if they developed an aesthetic taste along the way and show a little class. What better way to give your children (grandchildren, nieces, nephews, siblings) some culture than to introduce them to Gene Kelly. Quick, before it's too late! If you think that today's ADHD, tv-addicted children are too hyped up on iPods and Wii to enjoy a good, old fashioned musical...well, you just may be wrong. To paraphrase a commercial from my own tv-addicted youth...try it, they'll like it. Here are three movies guaranteed to hook your kids on classic movie musicals.

1 - Singin' in the Rain - To paraphrase Lena (Jean Hagen) herself, "Well of course they'll like it, don't everyone?" Adults have frequently bestowed the "best" title upon SITR on many lists of favorites, and children will certainly agree. Face it, even without the singing and dancing, this movie is just plain funny! Both my friend's son and my niece were absolutely captivated. Even boys have to laugh when R.F. pulls the microphone cord and Lena falls on her you-know-what. Cosmo's (Donald O'Connor) "Make 'Em Laugh" does just that no matter the age, and the antics in "Good Morning" are fun, too. Don (Gene Kelly) ripping his coat leaving Kathy's (Debbie Reynolds) car? Lena getting a pie in the face? Hilarious! Besides, children understand exactly how much fun it is to splash around in a puddle! Happiness is universal whether you're an adult who just fell in love or a kid who just got a present. Give them this one, and they'll want more!

2 - Anchors Aweigh - Have the remote ready to fast forward through any scene with either Aunt Suzy (Kathryn Grayson) singing or Jose Iturbi performing. While we are trying to add culture to the kiddies' lives, operatic singing may have to wait for adulthood. Then again, I'm an adult and I still fast forward through Kathryn...but I digress. Kids will really identify with Donald (Dean Stockwell) because he's a kid too. Joe Brady (Gene Kelly) dancing with Jerry the Mouse will hold the interest of your youngest movie-watchers, despite the fact that the live-action-plus-cartoon routine is a common effect today and not quite as "special" as it was in 1945. Good for a laugh - Joe walking like a "dame" so Clarence (Frank Sinatra) can try to ask her out. Despite the innuendo with Clarence wanting to be a "Sea Wolf" like Joe, it will go over the little ones' heads and its 1945 humor is squeaky clean by today's standards.

3 - On the Town - Much of the 1949-era lingo will be lost on anyone born after 1940, but everyone will enjoy three crazy sailors on a quick and fun-filled day in New York. Okay, so it does become a search for women, but this is 1949 - it's clean! Kids will laugh at the havoc our guys cause in the museum (warning: don't try this on your next field trip) or dressing in drag at Coney island to hide. The quick pace will keep today's fast-paced children smiling.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

A Gene Kelly Christmas

To get in the mood for the wonderful season of Christmas, here is a great photo of Gene Kelly and his daughter Bridget that comes from the December1962 issue of McCall's magazine. In that issue, editors asked several celebrities the question: "What was your most memorable Christmas?" Here is Gene's answer:

"It was the Christmas when I was six and my brother was seven. We sneaked downstairs early Christmas morning while my parents were asleep. Under the tree, we found two air rifles. We started to shoot the decorations off the tree. When my parents finally came down, the tree was a shambles. Yet, because it was Christmas, my parents didn't take the guns away from us; but that was the last time we ever shot in the house."

There is also a Christmas-related story in Gene's biography, Gene Kelly by Clive Hirschhorn: "But the biggest, most exciting holiday of all was Christmas. "We'd all go to bed on Christmas eve, " Jay [Gene's sister] recalled, "and when we came down at five-thirty, on our way to Mass, the living-room would be transformed. From nowhere there would be an enormous tree laden with presents and decorated from top to bottom with tinsel and paper bells. This was always a thrilling moment for us."

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Kurt Browning Skates in the Rain

Not to be outdone by Usher's recent performance, Canadian figure skater Kurt Browning did an amazing "Singin' in the Rain" tribute on his television special in 1994. Kurt's admiration of Gene Kelly really shines through. He's even said that it's his favorite performance ever. Considering he's skated in competitions and shows hundreds of times, including various World Championships and the Olympics, that's amazing. Of course, Gene Kelly used to enjoy ice skating himself - we can only wonder what he thought of this creative tribute. Enjoy!

Usher and Singin' in the Rain, Continued

Some fans emailed me and asked why I haven't updated the last posting since the show Movies Rock aired. Well, here you go...

Usher's performance has gotten rave reviews over at the Gene Scene Forum. He added his own spin to some of Gene Kelly's choreography, but overall the number was definitely a tribute to Gene and his work. Usher's admiration of Gene is apparent in the "intro" to the number. Good job! It's wonderful to see Gene and his work being respectfully remembered. Thanks, Usher!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Movies Rock: Usher's Singin' in the Rain Like Gene Kelly

As I mentioned in my November 21st post, there is a special airing on CBS tomorrow night called "Movies Rock" celebrating the role of music in the movies. The live event was held in LA last weekend. This article from the International Herald Tribune called the event a "collision between the Grammys and the Oscars" as present-day stars of music and film paid tribute to the former legends and songs of the silver screen.

As reported, Usher dances to "Singin' in the Rain" and after reading the praise about the number (a standing ovation?) I can't wait to see it. You can see a brief glimpse of Usher doing a Gene Kelly move (in Don Lockwood attire) at the preview video on the Movies Rock website,

Monday, November 26, 2007

Dancing with the Stars: How Would Gene Kelly Vote?

Tonight is the dance-off finale for "Dancing with the Stars". Wait...what does that have to do with Gene Kelly? He's not exactly on the show! Well, any fan of Gene is probably a fan of dance, and dance fans are definitely watching the show. If Gene were still around, wouldn't you love to be able to see him as a "Guest Judge"? Too bad the show didn't exist back when most of the dancers from cinema's classic musicals were still around to enjoy it with us.

So, how would Gene rate this season's three finalists? First, there's Marie Osmond, who has been entertaining long enough to overlap careers with Gene's. Watching Marie perform this season is a lot like watching Judy Garland in "Summer Stock" - she starts out rather plump in "Portland Fancy" and ends the movie looking svelte in "Get Happy". Marie's had a similar shrinking-effect! Gene would give her credit for working hard, putting some showmanship and enthusiasm in the steps, and because he'd remind her a little bit of Judy.

Next is Helio Castroneves. Since Helio's a race-car driver and not a dancer or entertainer, he's had quite a challenge. But, he's Brazilian and rhythm must be genetic because he has steadily improved and is now quite good. What would Gene say about Helio? I think Gene would be thrilled with Helio's performances because he dances in a masculine way similar to Gene's routines. He's a man's man, but he knows how to partner with the ladies. Also, Helio's smile is about as bright as Gene's in his happy hoofer mood! I think Gene would be proud of what Helio has been able to do.

The third finalist is "Spice Girl" Melanie Brown. Although Mel's not a professional dancer, she is a professional performer who's probably had a bit of dance training. I think Gene would be most impressed by her natural ability to quickly pick up a routine and dance it well. Her timing has been nearly perfect, and Gene would love the sultry sexiness that Mel brings to her dances.

So, if Gene were judge, who would he pick to win? Each "star" has great qualities about their dancing or they would not have made it this far through votes from both the judges and the fans. Would Gene favor the long-time trouper Marie, the smiling guy's guy Helio, or sleek and sexy Mel? Hmm...who's to say? I think he'd pick Mel with her Cyd Charisse-like lines. We'll never know what Gene would think, or if he'd even like the show at all. But, I think he'd appreciate the fact that America is watching dancing - we sure don't get to watch it in the movies anymore (High School Musical doesn't count).

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Video Clip of the Month: Gene Kelly - Everytime We Touch

Here's a little video montage I found on to the song "Everytime We Touch". I think the creator ("mdill33") did a superb job of editing the clips. However, not all of the color effects "work". All in all, it's a great tribute and shows not only Gene Kelly's dancing talent, but it also shows his tenderness in the non-dancing romantic scenes with his female co-stars. The creator of the clip seems to have several GK-related montages, so there may be more to come in the future. For now, enjoy "Everytime We Touch":

Friday, November 23, 2007

Movie Magazines: Gene Kelly in Screen Album Oct-Nov 1946

One joy for Gene Kelly fans is finding old movie magazines with stories about him. Sometimes the "interviews" are quite amusing and they remind me of the old "Tiger Beat" and "16" magazines I used to read as a kid. Here's a brief story from Screen Album magazine in the October-November 1946 issue:
It was lunchtime, and he was hungry, so he ducked into one of the thousands of hamburger joints that dot New York's sidestreets, slid onto a stool at the counter, and ordered one medium rare, please -- and don't spare the onions. "Coming up," said the waitress briskly, "right away, sir -- oooooooh!" and down went the burger on the floor and up went a pair of large, believe-it-or-not looking eyes. "Pardon me," she breathed, "but aren't you Gene Kelly?" The sailor glared, and shoved his cap further over his bright brown eyes, very tough-like. "What?" snorted Gene. "Me, a sissy dancer? I should say not! I'm a sailor!" "Well, I'm sorry, " the waitress muttered, "I didn't he'd eat here, anyway!"

Which goes to show how wrong a gal can be. Why, he even fooled his wife once, only it was before Betsy Blair became Mrs. Flying Irishman. He was dance director at New York's Diamond Horseshoe, and this pretty little redhead came around looking for a job. "Who recommended you?" they asked at the Horseshoe. "Why, that tacky-looking guy over there," said Betsy, "that janitor -- or stagehand." And she pointed right at the unabashed Mr. Kelly, who started goin' steady with her that night. But by now Betsy's used to his very un-Hollywood attitudes about clothes: When he was driving away from his pre-induction physical (he's out now!) a cop nabbed him for cutting a corner. In old clothes and with no license, he had to go to court and phone Bets frantically to rescue him! They're quite a couple, those Kellys, with Betsy studying Russian like mad and refusing to work at her husband's studio, anxious though she is to get into movies. "Imagine!" says Betsy. "He'd probably come traipsing out on the set and tell people I was the cleaning woman!"
Gotta love the 40s vocabulary, the so-called quotes, stream-of-consciousness, and all of the exclamation marks!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

SITR Remake by Usher?'s website reports that R&B star Usher will do a "remake" of Gene Kelly's Singin' in the Rain number for a television special. Usher says "We are going to cut it on the actual sound stage where they filmed it." I didn't think the soundstage still existed, but at any rate this should be very interesting! The special, entitled "Movies Rock", focuses on music's role in movies. It is scheduled to air on December 7th on CBS.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Get in the Thanksgiving Spirit... watching Singin' in the Rain! This week on Wednesday evening TCM is showing our favorite Gene Kelly movie. Tune in at 8 pm (Eastern).

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Marjorie Morningstar vs. Dirty Dancing

“Nobody puts Marjorie in the corner…”

The movie Dirty Dancing has been back in the news recently for its 20th anniversary, and also for being compared to High School Musical 2. But for a true comparison, has anyone else realized that it’s a happier, more lighthearted, more musical version of Gene Kelly’s Marjorie Morningstar? If you’ve never thought about it before, consider the following:

- The main character for both movies is a naïve, good Jewish girl (Natalie Wood as Marjorie in MM and Jennifer Grey as Baby in DD).

- Marjorie works at a camp in the Catskills. Baby visits a camp in the Catskills.

- Marjorie falls for the cocky bad-boy entertainment director, Noel (Gene Kelly). Baby falls for the cocky bad-boy dance instructor, Johnny (Patrick Swayze).

- Marjorie’s parents disapprove of the relationship because he’s not Jewish and he has no ambition. Baby’s parents disapprove of the relationship because he’s not Jewish and he’s the hired help.

- Noel teaches Marjorie how to perform. Johnny teaches Baby how to dance. Side note: DD’s choreographer, Kenny Ortega, is a huge Gene Kelly fan and worked with him on “Xanadu”.

This is where the two stories begin to differ drastically. Unfortunately for Marjorie, MM is the more serious and dramatic movie that focuses on the relationship of Noel and Marjorie. Simply, Noel is a loser. He can’t handle the stability that Marjorie offers and he can’t handle not being successful in the “real world”. In the end, Marjorie winds up with Wally, Noel’s assistant who is now a successful Broadway playwright. Is it me, or does anyone else think that if Marjorie didn’t listen to Wally in the end that maybe, just maybe, she and Noel would have worked things out? Anyway, DD has a much happier ending for Baby and Johnny. Of course, don’t forget that MM was a dramatic adaptation of an award-winning novel. DD was merely a happy musical that skirted some serious social issues. Any attempt at drama didn’t work because of the now-infamous pitiful dialogue that will induce laughter in all but pre-teens who think it’s the best movie ever.

But, let’s continue with our comparison with the differences…

- The “good guy” assistant Wally is the … well, the good guy in the end (except he convinces Marjorie to stay away from Noel…hmm, maybe he is the bad guy after all). The “good guy” waiter Robbie is the bad guy all along, but he’s revealed at the end.

- MM’s “A Very Precious Love” was nominated for an Academy Award for “Best Song” in 1958. DD’s “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” actually won the Academy Award for “Best Song” in 1987.

- MM’s happy couple end happily separated, never to reunite because Noel’s a jerk. DD’s happy couple ends happily together – and Baby’s father might actually be warming up to him.

- Dare we compare the stars of the two films? Let’s face it, MM may not have been Gene’s best dramatic role, but he handled it well. What would be truly refreshing? Gene Kelly starring in Dirty Dancing! Or would it be funnier to see Patrick Swayze in Marjorie Morningstar?

Trivia Challenge: Gene Kelly and Patrick Swayze were co-stars in --------?

Back to Blogging

Well, after a month without DSL, it's finally been resolved. But, this is a blog about Gene Kelly, not about how incompetent Verizon is. So, that's all I'll say. Back to your regularly scheduled blogging...

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Silent, Not By Choice

Thanks to Verizon, the Epitome of Incompetence, I have been without DSL for about a month now. Based on what I've heard from others, I'm probably a couple of weeks away from a true resolution. Based on how long it has taken to publish this post via dial-up, I'm afraid this blog will be silent for a bit longer. But please don't think I've abandoned it! I have a lot more to say about Gene Kelly. To quote a different actor, I'll be back...

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

To Be an American in Paris

The Gene Scene Blog will be silent for a while as I do my "Jerry Mulligan" tour of Paris. As a bon voyage thought, let me quote Gene Kelly as Jerry himself:
"Back home everyone said I didn't have any talent. They might be saying the same thing over here but it sounds better in French."

Monday, September 10, 2007

Leslie Caron wins an Emmy

At the "Creative Arts Emmys" on Saturday night, Leslie Caron won an award for her guest appearance on the television show "Law and Order: Special Victims Unit." Reports say that the 76-year-old actress quipped "I think I was nominated in 1951 for the most promising newcomer. I'm glad I finally realized my potential."

Leslie will be a presenter on the primetime Emmy Awards on September 16th and will wear a drss that she designed. Read an article by Robert Osborne in The Hollywood Reporter about her win.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Betty Comden Tribute

Anyone living in or nearby New York City will be happy to hear about a special tribute for Betty Comden on September 18th. The event is called "Great Women Salute A Great Woman: Betty Comden - In the Words of Comden and Green" and will be held at Broadway's Majestic Theater, 247 West 44 Street, beginning at 2 PM. It's free, open to the public, and will feature many Broadway stars and some "surprise guests" to celebrate Betty's life. Read more about the event in Playbill.

For anyone who does not recognize the name of Betty Comden, she's half of the amazing writing duo "Comden and Green". With partner Adolph Green, the pair co-wrote On the Town, It's Always Fair Weather, and Singin' in the Rain - just to name a few of the Gene Kelly hits. She died nearly one year ago at the age of 89.

Friday, August 31, 2007

An American in Paris

I've been thinking and reading a lot about An American in Paris, not to mention watching it, as I prepare for a trip to Paris. I was about to write a creative and ingenious post about the ballet sequence and how the movie's creative team, from Gene Kelly to the set creators to the costume designers, used the great works of real artists as their inspiration. But as I did a little web surfing for some examples of the paintings that inspired the moods, colors, and dance styles, I've found that someone beat me to it! Great minds think alike! Visit the wonderfully-titled "This is not my blog" for a fantastic post that runs through the ballet sequence and the paintings that inspired it. A Filmsite review offers a similar explanation minus the actual movie clips and paintings. I can leave you with one original comment, however. According to "The Magic Factory: How MGM Made An American in Paris" by Donald Knox, Arthur Freed and Gene Kelly were visiting Paris after the film was made and it was arranged to show the movie to the artist Raoul Dufy in the screening rooms of the MGM office. Dufy (that's his painting of the Place de la Concorde above) was very old at the time, and Gene and Arthur were "sweating with fear" as they watched it with him. Gene comments on what happened when they got to the ballet:
Well, he just chortled; he was so pleased. After the house lights went up, he asked if we would show him the ballet again, which we joyously did. He thought we had all done a wonderful job.
So do we, Gene, so do we!

Even Kermit the Frog loves Singin' in the Rain

According to a few television news sites, TCM (Turner Classic Movies) has asked celebrities to choose their favorite movies to be featured on the network during the month of November. While TCM's web site hasn't yet posted this schedule or the complete list of celebrities and choices, several reports indicate that Kermit the Frog has chosen "Singin' in the Rain" as one of his favorites. It will air on November 21. It should come as no surprise that fellow movie star Kermit chose a Gene Kelly movie. After all, Gene was a guest on Kermit's show in 1981! See a complete description of the episode here or buy it here. I can't resist adding the video clip of Gene singing to Ms. Piggy. Hmm...what will Kermit think?

Monday, August 27, 2007

Featured Site: Gene Kelly, Creative Genius

Back when I started The Gene Scene web site in 1996, there were not many sites devoted to Mr. Kelly or his films. Things have changed! Now there are many great sites, and each has its own personal touch. I'd like to occasionally feature other web sites for fans to see all the good stuff out there. I'll not only feature Gene Kelly sites, but other good sites dedicated to classic movies, musicals, or Gene's co-stars.

For our first featured site, I'd like to shine the spotlight on Sue Cadman's site, Gene Kelly, Creative Genius. It takes a lot to impress me when it comes to GK info, but "Aunt Suzy" sure did it! First of all, you get to view the main page while listening to Gene's lilting voice sing "If I Could Be With You". Sue's site features many great quotes by and about Gene and tons of photos. Be sure to pay a visit!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Video Clip of the Week -- Speaking of Gene's Family Tree...

For the "Video Clip of the Week" I thought Gene Kelly fans might enjoy these clips from his appearance on The Julie Andrews Show in 1965. It's a charming look at Gene's family tree! The video is divided into 2 parts.

Since The Julie Andrews Show isn't available on DVD (at least I don't think it is), you probably haven't seen this so you're in for a treat!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Vote for Gene's genes

Gene Kelly fans might want to cast a vote for Mike Beaman as "Best Bartender" in Tucson, Arizona. Who? The rather handsome bartender just happens to be Gene's grand-nephew (that would be his niece's son for the genealogically-challenged). More simply put, it's the grandson of Gene's dancing brother, Fred Kelly. The 27-year-old University of Arizona student definitely has the Kelly charm! Read all about Mike, otherwise known as "The Chemist". And feel free to cast a vote for Mike as Tucson's best bartender here.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Now I'm on the Radio!

Ironically, the day after I post about Kerry Kelly Novick's radio interview on her dad, I received an email asking if I would participate in a radio interview myself in honor of Gene Kelly's birthday. The show aired in Ecuador! How's THAT for the World Wide Web? The station, called Radio City, is a BBC-affiliated station. Their show El Aguacate discusses tv, film, and music news. I don't speak Spanish, but the hosts provided on-air translations as I answered the questions.

So, what did the country of Ecuador most want to know about Gene Kelly? First, they asked what characteristics defined Gene Kelly. I suggested that he was defined by originality and creativity. Gene wasn't just a dancer who danced in the movies; he was a dancer who changed dancing in the movies! Because he recognized that dancing for a camera was different than dancing on stage in front of an audience, his original approach to dance on film will always stand out.

Next I was asked about other aspects of Gene besides his work as a dancer and an actor - specifically, his role as an advocate against racism and as an inventor. It's easy to speak about Gene's anti-racism - he simply believed that it wasn't fair to treat people differently. I naturally talked about his desire to have the incomparable Nicholas Brothers in The Pirate. [Kerry discussed this in her ICONS Radio interview as well.] Equality was important to Gene, and it's one of the many reasons people admire him today.

Finally, I was asked if it was true that Gene helped Madonna choreograph her "Girlie Show" tour in the early 90's. YES! Gene did help her. She sought him out, and he always loved new entertainers and new dance styles even when he could no longer dance himself. Madonna and Gene kept in touch!

So, that was my shot at the big time. Who knew that there were so many Gene Kelly fans in Ecuador? Well, if any of you are visiting this blog - bienvenido!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

ICONS Radio interview Gene's daughter Kerry

On Saturday, August 12, 2007, Gene's oldest daughter Kerry Kelly Novick participated in an interview with ICONS Radio. The hour-long interview, hosted by Stephen Bogart (Humphrey's son), offers a sweet and touching view not only of Gene Kelly the dancer and actor, but also of Gene the man -- father, activist, friend. This show is a treat for Gene fans everywhere. Best of all, an mp3 of the interview is available for free on the ICONS Radio website! The podcast is also available for free on iTunes. Fans of any and all classic movies might want to check out the main ICONS Radio Hour page to see past and upcoming interviews, mostly with family and friends of classic film directors, writers, and stars.

Update July 2008: The links to the interview with Kerry Kelly Novick and ICONS radio were updated - new address is

Welcome to the Gene Scene Blog!

In honor of Gene Kelly's birthday on August 23rd, I've decided to come into the 21st century and start a blog to go with The Gene Scene web site. Please be kind as I learn about blogging. My first concern was how to keep it updated and fresh when I have a hard enough time updating the web site on a regular basis. But, I have high hopes. Let's see where this experiment leads...