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,