Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, February 15, 2018


THE FILMS OF GENE KELLY: Song and Dance Man. Tony Thomas. Introduction by Fred Astaire. Citadel Press; 1974.

This heavily illustrated tome is an excellent introduction to and authoritative dissection of the career of the man who was best known as a dancer, but who also made his mark with dramatic performances and as a film director of note. Kelly had a different style than that of his "rival," Astaire, one that might be described as more athletic, but both men were tops in their profession. Thomas delves into Kelly's musicals, such as Anchors Aweigh, Brigadoon, and Living in a Big Way; his "straight" performances in non-musicals such as The Black Hand, Christmas Holiday, and Inherit the Wind (in which he was excellent); and his hit-or-miss directorial assignments such as Gigot with Jackie Gleason, A Guide for the Married Man, and Hello Dolly with Barbra Streisand. Along the way we get Kelly's impressions of each film as well as behind-the-scenes details, and lots and lots of photographs. Although I was never an especially big admirer of Kelly's, this book made me look at him differently. Kelly originally made his mark starring in Rodgers and Hart's Pal Joey on Broadway -- much better casting than Frank Sinatra in the film version -- and it could be argued that he was one of those lucky people who got better-looking as they got older. Also included are Kelly's interesting remarks about gay dancers.

Verdict: Top-notch, informative, and intelligent look at the career of a great hoofer. ***1/2.


angelman66 said...

Hm. Interesting comments about gay dancers? Pro or con??
Need to read this, I have always been fascinated by Kelly's mix of macho and flamboyance.

I do know that he HATED overweight people...a zoftig girlfriend of mine did a master class with Gene Kelly in the late 1970s and he excoriated her in front of the whole class for not being disciplined enough to lose weight...

Bill, I hope you have an awesome week!! Talk soon...

William said...

I hope you have a great week, too Chris.

Kelly's remarks about gay dancers were sort of half and half. He knew there were"effeminate" male dances, as he puts it, and seemed to have no objection to them -- just as long as they didn't allow their flamboyance to affect their dancing -- then it was just "lousy dancing."

As for his excoriating your friend in front of the whole class -- sheesh, he could have taken her aside and given her dieting/exercise tips or something instead of embarrassing her. I absolutely hate people in show business who feel it's okay to humiliate others just to make a point.