Friday, August 24, 2012

Friday Dance Party: Fair Weather Phenom

This week's Dance Party features one of our repeat offenders. 

Gene Kelly's birthday was yesterday, so it's only natural we revisit him.  If the clip below is not enough for you, enjoy his dance duet with Judy Garland in Summer Stock here, and his solo number with a newspaper from the same film here.  My favorite Kelly clip, though, was featured several years ago, and comes from a Julie Andrews TV special, rather than a film.

This week's clip is from one of Gene's lesser known works, It's Always Fair Weather.  The piece began its life in the minds of writer/lyricists Comden and Green, who were prepping it for Broadway as a sequel to their earlier smash, On The Town.  Kelly was only interested in it as a film, however, so MGM took over.  The studio brass balked at hiring On The Town's original co-stars Frank Sinatra (who had begun causing trouble on sets) and Jules Munshen (who by 1955 was considered a has-been). 
Gene's costars from On The Town did not make the cut.

Gene, who was to co-direct the film, chose hoofer Dan Dailey and dancer-choreographer Michael Kidd to costar, and the concept of a sequel was abandoned. 
Cyd Charisse was our leading lady.

The finished product is darker than most musicals of the time, and concerned three WWII buddies who meet ten years later and discover their dreams have not come true.  The film was not a success in its original release, but the clip below has become historical, as some claim it is Gene Kelly's last great dance solo captured on film.
This number with the trash can lids is also fairly well-known.
I'm not such an expert as to know if that claim is true, but Kelly surely proves himself adept on roller skates. 
Everyone agrees Xanadu was a sad ending to a
stellar film career.

So much so, that I wonder if anyone suggested he don skates for his final film appearance in Xanadu decades later.  Maybe that would have saved that dismal failure.  Happy Birthday, Gene!