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...