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...