Friday, October 1, 2010

I Got Rhythm

My Favorite Scene from Carousel, 1956
Though I wasn't opposed to watching the Disney movies the rest of the kindergartners were watching like Sleeping Beauty and Aladdin, my mom made it a point to consume most of my leisure time with the classic old Hollywood, usually post-WWII films -movies with stars like Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart, Van Johnson, Natalie Wood, Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, among others. I equally spent my time watching Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals like Carousel (my favorite) and Oklahoma.

Gene Kelly in An American in Paris, 1951
I have felt privileged to have been exposed to such a polished, value-oriented time. However, a particular set of entertainers hold a special place in my heart -Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire. I can remember spinning in the living room in my blue and black striped, cotton dress (worn probably three days out of every week for years) to their movies -from An American in Paris to Funny Face. In particular, a memory sticks out of watching Gene Kelly create a dance (Summer Stock, 1950) in complete bewilderment.

Gene Kelly in Summer Stock, 1950

After he has been left alone at the theater, Kelly whistles casually to center stage...He hears a creak in the floorboard...and the swoosh of a newspaper under his feet. He bends into the floor, he kicks up the paper, and Boom! - full song and dance...from a piece a paper and a creak in a floorboard. Incredible. I had never seen, even now, anyone with the talent he had. He used such a simple idea and turned it into a classic moment in entertainment. P.S. It was done all in one take. -Gene-ius.

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