Thursday, January 3, 2008

Gene Kelly and Judy Garland

Gene and Judy in The Pirate
Over on the Gene Scene message board, fans were excited with Renata's new video of Gene and Judy clips (see below). Well, I wanted to present that video as our "featured video clip" so it inspired me to do this post on...what else? Gene and Judy!

Gene Kelly and Judy Garland appeared in only three films together: For Me and My Gal (1942), The Pirate (1948), and Summer Stock (1950). Ironically, their first film together marks Gene's screen debut, and their last is Judy's final film for MGM. All three films feature a brash male character (is this a trend for Gene?) in the entertainment "business" pursuing Judy's more wholesome gal.

I was never a huge Judy Garland fan, but I just have to admit that she's wildly talented and I like her more each time I see the films. What is most evident in the montage of clips from these three films is the real-life relationship between Judy and Gene. And no, the word "relationship" used here does not imply a sexual or romantic one.

According to biographies, the pair met when Gene was performing in Pal Joey on Broadway. Judy, already a huge movie star, attended one of his performances and requested to meet. Gene accompanied Judy and her entourage, which included her mother and several press agents, to dinner. The group went to the Copacabana club for singing and dancing until 3 am. Judy asked her mother if she and Gene could walk around the city for a while. Permission granted, Gene took her for a walk through Central Park, walking and talking about the future possibilities of a movie together until 5 am.

That dream became a reality in For Me and My Gal. Gene appears somewhat star-struck as if he can't believe he's on screen with a big star like Judy! He always gave her credit for helping him learn how to dance for the film camera as opposed to dancing on stage for an audience. While Gene was a "newbie" when it came to acting in front of a camera, when it came time to dance the pair were well matched! By The Pirate, the mutual affection is evident in their performances. And in Summer Stock, the tables were nearly turned in that it was suddenly Judy who appeared lost at times. Despite her experience in the movies, her medical condition was precarious due to the "prescriptions" provided by the studio. In this film, Gene takes the lead to help her through it. Cast members reported that they waited, and waited, and waited for Judy to be emotionally ready to work or perform. Gene was patient, and he brought out the best in her as a result. Considering he's decribed by other co-stars as a "slave-driver", the fact that he was so patient during the filming of Summer Stock proves just how much he cared. The patience paid off, and Judy looks fabulous in her "Get Happy" finale, filmed months after the rest of the movie.

What I see in their on-screen appearances together is a mutual love, respect, and admiration. And so, I present our Featured Video Clip... Many thanks to Renata for her love of Gene and her talent at making videos!


Raymond De Felitta said...

Excellent post. The Pirate is, for me, criminally underrated--I've posted about it a couple of times, think it was around last Halloween. You should be able to find it in my archives if you're interested.
keep it up!

Gene Scene said...

Raymond, I agree! I plan on a longer post on The Pirate in the near future. It is one of my favorites and I could never understand why it was not better received. I will definitely go look for your post - thanks!

MusicManMihir said...

I chanced on this post just after watching The Pirate. Was wondering if you good folks know where I can download some Gene Kelly movies.
I found
1942 For Me And My Gal
1945 Anchors Aweigh
1948 The Pirate
1948 The Three Musketeers
1949 Take Me Out To The Ball Game
1951 An American In Paris
1954 Brigadoon
and 1980 Xanadu
on Rapidshare. Does anyone know of any other movies on rapidshare. I would be most grateful if you can help.
Thanks :)

mks1011 said...

I've watched all 3 Gene Kelly and Judy Garland movies. I love them all that I decided to download them onto my computer to watch at anytime--unfortunately i could not find Summer Stock, it seems to be a needle in a haystack--any idea as to where I might be able to find it to watch? thanks :)

The Gene Scene said...

Summer Stock is readily available on DVD, but I'm not sure about it's availability to download.

Anonymous said...

WATCHING The Pirate now! What a fantastic array of dance moves and a plot that is not cliche! Gene Kelly was a genius and I am glad to hear he was sweet to Judy.

Sweet Sue said...

Wow, am I late to the party but I wanted to say that, on the contrary, I think that Gene Kelly is remarkably assured as Harry Palmer in "For Me And My Gal," and it's hard to believe that it's his first movie.
He holds his own against Garland and the other, seasoned movie actors.
The Palmer characterization is as close as any of us will ever get to seeing Kelly's "Pal Joey."
John Updike once wrote that Judy's "Jo" is the only leading lady whom the audience truly believes is in love with Kelly. I think that's true and it's true because their first movie together is essentially a melodrama, not a musical comedy.
I would believe Cyd Charise's Fiona was in love with Gene, if Charise was a better actress.
I always believe that Kelly is in love; no one in movies falls in love more believably even when it's love at first sight.