Tag Archives: musicals

5 Unforgettable Gene Kelly Dance Numbers

Suffering from the rainy day blues? We’ve got you covered!

As told by Cynthia and Sara Brideson in the new biography, He’s Got Rhythm, Gene Kelly was one of the brightest stars in the world of Hollywood dance musicals. From tap dancing on roller-skates, to creating rhythms with a squeaky floorboard, to collaborating with dance legend Fred Astaire, Gene was a creative genius and a master of his craft.

These iconic song and dance numbers are guaranteed to put a “smile on your face” and have you “laughing at the clouds”:


1. “I Like Myself” from It’s Always Fair Weather (1955)

In this unforgettable number, Gene provides one of his most energetic and entertaining performances, and proves that he can hoof it even when wearing roller-skates!

2. “The Babbitt And The Bromide” from Ziegfeld Follies (1946)

Two legends of American dance go head-to-head in this Gershwin brothers number from Ziegfeld Follies. In a classic sketch of friendly one-upmanship, the technical perfection of Fred Astaire meets the easy grace of Gene Kelly. This was the only time Astaire and Kelly appeared together on film in the prime of their careers.

3. “I Got Rhythm” from An American in Paris (1951)

Gene oozes charm in this clip from the Academy Award winning An American in Paris, as he taps and sings a classic jazz tune while teaching French children a few words of English.

4. “Squeaky Floor Routine” from Summer Stock (1950)

In what Kelly himself would later call his favorite solo routine, he creates a dance inspired by the environment in which it takes place. Employing a squeaky floorboard and an old newspaper as the basis for his rhythm, Gene displays his remarkable ability to explore a space through dance.

5. “Singin’ In The Rain” from Singin’ in the Rain (1952)

“From where I stand the sun is shining all over the place.”

In perhaps the most iconic number in any Hollywood musical, Gene taps and splashes his way through a California downpour and right into film history.


UKY06 He's Got Rhythm Selected.inddTo read the stories behind these and many other iconic Gene Kelly films, check out the newly released He’s Got Rhythm: The Life and Career of Gene Kelly. In the first comprehensive biography written since the legendary star’s death, authors Cynthia Brideson and Sara Brideson disclose new details of Kelly’s complex life. Not only do they examine his contributions to the world of entertainment in depth, but they also consider his political activities—including his opposition to the Hollywood blacklist. Drawing on previously untapped articles and interviews with Kelly’s wives, friends, and colleagues, Brideson and Brideson illuminate new and unexpected aspects of the actor’s life and work. He’s Got Rhythm is a balanced and compelling view of one of the screen’s enduring legends.

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C’mon “Get Happy,” It’s Judy Garland’s Birthday!

Judy Garland Birthday Summer Stock Charles Walters

Director Charles Walters and muse: Garland’s “Get Happy” goes before the cameras, “Summer Stock” (1950). Courtesy John Fricke Collection

A very happy birthday to a classic star with a golden voice! Though best known as the wide-eyed ingenue who rocketed to fame as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz (1939), Judy Garland brought her triple-threat talent to some of the greatest films of the twentieth century.

From the trolley scene in Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) to “A Couple of Swells” in Easter Parade with Fred Astaire, many of Garland’s most beloved roles came out of her frequent collaboration with choreographer and director, Charles Walters, including her most iconic musical scene: “Get Happy” from Summer Stock (1950).

In Charles Walters: The Director Who Made Hollywood Dance, media archivist Brent Phillips goes behind the scenes of Walters’ life and films. He explores not only the director’s work—like Easter ParadeSummer Stock, and Lili (1953)—but also Walters’ life and associations with stars like Garland, Lucille Ball, Fred Astaire, and Gene Kelly, and how he navigated the industry as an openly gay man.

To celebrate a partnership that keeps us smiling, dancing, and happy to this day, we’re bringing you an excerpt from Charles Waltersdetailing the behind-the-scenes story of “Get Happy”:

“Get Happy,” from Charles Walters: The Director Who Made Hollywood Dance by Brent Phillips

Photography neared completion in late January 1950, with Walters running “on nothing but coffee and cigarettes.” Some of the dancers were leaving for other assignments, and a premature wrap party was organized. . .

Judy’s work on Summer Stock was deemed complete in early February—after two and a half months of filming—and she headed to Santa Barbara to rest. Meanwhile, Walters oversaw editing of the picture, and it soon became obvious that a Garland payoff was missing. “She was the star, but she never had a star turn in the final show,” he pointed out. Judy solved the problem herself, as he recalled, telling him, “I’ll give you a week. I want Harold Arlen’s ‘Get Happy,’ and I want to wear the costume from the ‘Mr. Monotony’ number cut from Easter Parade. And I want [you] to do it.” The director admitted the request seemed “a nice little challenge,” and he was pleasantly stunned when “she returned two weeks later, thin as a string.”

“Get Happy,” a quasi-spiritual from 1930, had been famously introduced by Ruth Etting as the first act finale of Ruth Selwyn’s 9:15 Revue. Thought Chuck, “What the hell am I gonna do with it? What does it say? What does it mean?” His answers to those questions proved iconic: a spare, sophisticated staging with Garland as a cool jazz vamp and accompanied by eight equally smooth male dancers.
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A Title a Day…

Following the release of our Fall 2010 catalog, the University Press of Kentucky would like to introduce you to our upcoming titles. Over the next few weeks, we’ll spotlight one new title every day or so. We’ll give you all the information so you can start adding titles to your wishlist.

Coming December 2010:

Buzz: The Life and Art of Busby Berkeley

By Jeffrey Spivak

978-0-8131-2643-2

$39.95, Cloth

Description:

Characterized by grandiose song-and-dance numbers featuring ornate geometric patterns and mimicked in many modern films, Busby Berkeley’s unique artistry is as recognizable and striking as ever. From his years on Broadway to the director’s chair, Berkeley is notorious for his inventiveness and signature style. Through sensational films like 42nd Street (1933), Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933), Footlight Parade (1933), and Dames (1934), Berkeley sought to distract audiences from the troubles of the Great Depression. Although his bold technique is familiar to millions of moviegoers, Berkeley’s life remains a mystery.

Buzz: The Life and Art of Busby Berkeley is a telling portrait of the filmmaker who revolutionized the musical and changed the world of choreography. Berkeley pioneered many conventions still in use today, including the famous “parade of faces” technique, which lends an identity to each anonymous performer in a close-up. Carefully arranging dancers in complex and beautiful formations, Berkeley captured perspectives never seen before.

Jeffrey Spivak’s meticulous research magnifies the career and personal life of this beloved filmmaker. Employing personal letters, interviews, studio memoranda, and Berkeley’s private memoirs, Spivak unveils the colorful life of one of cinema’s greatest artists.

About the Author:

Jeffrey Spivak writes about film for periodicals and websites. He lives in Gurnee, Illinois.

Reviews:

“Spivak has the biographer’s sine qua non: a sense of his subject’s uniqueness on this Earth.” -Page Laws, dean of the Honors College, Norfolk State University