Gene Kelly Centennial Retrospective
February 4–April 5
Electric, athletic and always inventive, Gene Kelly defined the Golden Age of the movie musical, not only as the genre's biggest star after WWII, but as an innovative dance choreographer and director (with underrated acting skills, to boot). His collaborations with choreographer/director Stanley Donen — including ON THE TOWN, SINGIN' IN THE RAIN, and IT'S ALWAYS FAIR WEATHER — revolutionized dance on screen and the look of movie musicals. Kelly and Donen's work relocated prewar films' penchant for escapism and fantasy to the real world, reflecting real-world concerns, and better integrating the dance and musical numbers into the characters' story, even their psychology. This modern approach has ensured the lasting appeal of their work (also on display in the choreography for LIVING IN A BIG WAY, COVER GIRL, ANCHORS AWEIGH, and TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALL GAME).
In later years, Kelly played an ambassadorial role for the movie musical
through his involvement with and appearances in the MGM anthologies THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT and THAT'S DANCING, and his all-around tireless approach to show business. Among his many accolades, Kelly was awarded an Honorary Oscar
in 1952 ("In appreciation of his versatility as an actor, singer, director and dancer, and specifically for his brilliant achievements in the art of choreography on film"), and received the AFI Life Achievement Award in 1985. Celebrate the screen icon's centenary year with this retrospective of his most beloved films.
Red-headed knockout Rita Hayworth becomes an overnight sensation when she's spotted by Vanity magazine honcho Otto Kruger and selected for supermodel stardom. Her boyfriend Gene Kelly argues that dancing's where it's at, and urges her to stay with their act. But Hayworth's newfound fame brings her offers to make the leap to Broadway — solo. Highlights include Jerome Kern and Ira Gershwin's lyrical "Long Ago and Far Away" (#92 on AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs) and Kelly's inventive dancing with himself on "Alter-Ego Dance."
DIR Charles Vidor; SCR Virginia Van Upp, from the story by Erwin S. Gelsey; PROD Arthur Schwartz. US, 1944, color, 107 min. NOT RATED
Sat, Feb 4, 11:00 a.m.; Sun, Feb 5, 6:30; Tue, Feb 7, 9:20
Sailors Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra's plans for shore leave in Hollywood are sidetracked when they get stuck with young runaway Dean Stockwell, who's nuts about joining the Navy. But after returning him home to his widowed aunt, the
beautiful Kathryn Grayson, Sinatra's singing "I Fall in Love Too Easily" and even ladies' man Kelly starts thinking about settling down. Kelly's first film as sole choreographer features his celebrated duet with Jerry Mouse, an early triumph in coordinating live action with animation and a hallmark of Kelly's ambitious inventiveness.
DIR George Sidney; SCR Isobel Lennart; PROD Joe Pasternak. US, 1945, color, 143 min. NOT RATED
Sun, Feb 5, 3:45; Mon, Feb 6, 6:00
SINGIN' IN THE RAIN
#1 on AFI's 100 Years of Musicals
#5 on AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies
When silent stars Gene Kelly and Jean Hagen's first sound picture looks like a bomb, movie magic saves the day, as Kelly and company rush to recut the movie as a musical, with Debbie Reynolds' lilt dubbed over Hagen's screech. Vaudevillian Donald O'Connor's bravura performance of "Make 'Em Laugh" is eclipsed only by Kelly's splashy song and dance performance of the title track — "the most celebrated single sequence in the history of the genre" — John Wakeman.
DIR Gene Kelly, Stanley Donen ; SCR Adolph Green, Betty Comden; PROD Arthur Freed. US, 1952, color, 103 min. NOT RATED
"Singin' in the Rain" – #3 on AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs
"Make 'Em Laugh" – #49 on AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs
"Good Morning" – #72 on AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs
Fri, Feb 10, 5:10; Sat, Feb 11, 7:20; Sun, Feb 12, 5:00; Tue, Feb 14, 7:15; Thu, Feb 16, 7:15
Island lass Judy Garland, unhappy with her corpulent, bullying fiance Walter Slezak, believes that traveling player Gene Kelly may in fact be her idol, legendary daredevil pirate Mack the Black. This over-the-top spoof of Douglas Fairbanks-brand swashbuckling features Cole Porter tunes, including the spirited "Be A Clown," with Kelly cavorting over, under and through the set, and clowning around with the famous dancing duo, the Nicholas Brothers.
DIR Vincente Minnelli; SCR Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett, from the play by S. N. Behrman; PROD Arthur Freed. US, 1948, color, 102 min. NOT RATED
TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALL GAME
Fri, Feb 17, 5:10; Sat, Feb 18, 1:05; Sun, Feb 19, 11:00 a.m.; Mon, Feb 20, 11:00 a.m.
The trio of Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra and Jules Munshin, so memorable together in 1949's ON THE TOWN, had a warm-up that same year in this film. Kelly and Sinatra are a vaudeville duo in the winter and star baseball players for the Wolves in the summer, two-thirds of a celebrated double-play combo along with first-baseman pal Munshin. Challenges for the new season include the team's new no-nonsense owner, Esther Williams, passionate Sinatra fan Betty Garrett and gambler Edward Arnold's intense interest in the Wolves' fortunes. Busby Berkeley directed but the dance numbers were handled by Kelly and frequent collaborator Stanley Donen.
DIR Busby Berkeley; SCR Harry Tugend, George Wells; PROD Arthur Freed. US, 1949, color, 93 min. NOT RATED
ON THE TOWN
Sat, Feb 25, 12:00; Mon, Feb 27, 5:00; Wed, Feb 29, 5:00
"So exuberant that it threatens at moments to bounce right off the screen" – Time. "New York, New York," sing sailors Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra and Jules Munshin on shore leave in the celebrated opening sequence. The trio cavorts from the Brooklyn Navy Yard up to the Bronx, down to the Battery, and everywhere in between — this film is a location-shot, whirlwind tour of the city that revolutionized the movie musical. The memorable music is by Leonard Bernstein and Roger Edens.
DIR Gene Kelly, Stanley Donen; SCR Betty Comden, Adolph Green; PROD Arthur Freed. US, 1949, color, 98 min. NOT RATED
Sun, Feb 26, 12:45; Mon, Feb 27, 7:00; Tue, Feb 28, 4:45; Thu, Mar 1, 5:00
Connecticut farm gal Judy Garland has her homestead hijacked by a traveling theater troupe, who agree to work as farmhands in exchange for use of the barn as a theater for their summer production. Impresario Gene Kelly even manages to get Garland into the act, the result being the show-stopping finale "Get Happy," which would become one of Garland's signature tunes (written by Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler, and #61 on AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs). With Marjorie Main, Eddie Bracken and Phil Silvers.
DIR Charles Walters; SCR George Wells, Sy Gomberg; PROD Joe Pasternak. US, 1950, color, 108 min. NOT RATED
AN AMERICAN IN PARIS
Sat, Mar 3, 11:00 a.m.; Mon, Mar 5, 7:30; Tue, Mar 6, 5:05
#9 on AFI's 100 Years of Musicals
#32 on AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs
#68 on AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies
Starving artist Gene Kelly shares a Parisian garret with unemployed pianist Oscar Levant, and when heiress/patroness Nina Foch takes an interest in Kelly and his canvasses, it could be their ticket to the big time. But Kelly has fallen hard for shopgirl Leslie Caron. This multiple Oscar-winner — six in all, including Best Picture — features a beautiful George Gershwin score, including "I Got Rhythm," "Our Love Is Here to Stay" and an extended ballet finale inspired by Impressionist painting: "18 minutes of screen magic, unsurpassed in the boldness of its design and the dazzle of its execution" – Clive Hirschhorn, "The Hollywood Musical."
DIR Vincente Minnelli; SCR Alan Jay Lerner; PROD Arthur Freed. US, 1951, color, 113 min. NOT RATED
IT'S ALWAYS FAIR WEATHER
Sat, Mar 3, 4:30; Sun, Mar 4, 6:30; Tue, Mar 6, 7:20
Army buddies Gene Kelly, Dan Dailey and Michael Kidd "March, March" through a dizzy montage of Manhattan's bars, the night culminating in a drunken taxicab tango and trashcan lid tap dance. When the post-war years bring bitter disappointment, the three reunite and rediscover their youthful élan: Dailey sends up the Madison Avenue hucksters he now works for in "Situation-Wise;" Kelly finds new love with sizzling Cyd Charisse and declares "I Like Myself" in the famous roller-skating number; and the three run riot on Dolores Gray's TV show.
DIR Gene Kelly, Stanley Donen; SCR Betty Comden, Adolph Green; PROD Arthur Freed. US, 1955, color, 102 min. NOT RATED
Sat, Mar 10, 11:00 a.m.; Sun, Mar 11, 3:00; Tue, Mar 13, 5:10; Thu, Mar 15, 5:10
Vincente Minnelli's CinemaScope adaptation of the Lerner and Loewe Broadway hit casts Gene Kelly and Van Johnson as the American hunters lost in the highlands of Scotland, who stumble across the mysterious village of Brigadoon, which seems to be trapped in the past. Turns out the spellbound town appears for only one day each century — just long enough for Kelly to fall in love with enchanting lass Cyd Charisse. MGM's stage-bound version of this Scottish Shangri-La is enlivened by Kelly's choreography and lots of local color — tartan kilts, purple heather and Scottish burrs resulting in a heartwarming fantasy.
DIR Vincente Minnelli; SCR Alan Jay Lerner, from his musical; PROD Arthur Freed. US, 1954, color, 108 min. NOT RATED
Sat, Mar 10, 3:00; Sun, Mar 11, 11:00 a.m.; Mon, Mar 12, 5:10; Wed, Mar 14, 5:10
George Cukor's frothy showbiz exposé plays like VH1's BEHIND THE MUSIC meets RASHOMON, as competing versions of events play out in flashback during the libel trial of dancer-turned-memoirist Kay Kendall. Back during their dancing days as "Barry Nichols and Les Girls," Kendall claims her fellow trouper Taina Elg had an affair with Gene Kelly (Barry Nichols); Elg claims it was Kendall; Kelly claims they're both wrong, he loved les troisième girl, Mitzi Gaynor, now his wife. Who's telling the truth? Featuring Cole Porter's final film score and Kelly's final starring appearance in a full-blown musical. Nominated for three Oscars, winning for Orry-Kelly's costumes.
DIR George Cukor; SCR John Patrick, from the story by Vera Caspary; PROD Sol C. Siegel. US, 1957, color, 114 min. NOT RATED
Mon, Mar 19, 7:10; Tue, Mar 20, 7:10
Director Gene Kelly guided Barbra Streisand to deliver one of her best-loved performances in this big-screen adaptation of the hit stage musical, with a screenplay by Ernest Lehman and choreography by Michael Kidd. Featuring a beloved guest appearance by Louis Armstrong on the title song, plus Walter Matthau, Tommy Tune and a pre-"Phantom of the Opera" Michael Crawford. Matchmaker Dolly Levi's colorful exploits are a must-see on the big screen, in 70mm!
DIR Gene Kelly; SCR/PROD Ernest Lehman, from the musical by Michael Stewart and the play "The Matchmaker" by Thornton Wilder. US, 1969, color, 146 min. RATED G
Struggling painter Michael Beck meets mysterious rollergirl Olivia Newton-John, who encourages him to follow his muse...and open a rollerdisco with former big band leader/depressed construction magnate Gene Kelly. Reviled by critics and weak at the box office, the film nonetheless scored with a hit movie soundtrack, including songs by Newton-John, ELO and The Tubes, and was later successfully reimagined for the Broadway stage as a nostalgic camp celebration.
DIR Robert Greenwald; SCR Richard Christian Danus, Marc Reid Rubel; PROD Lawrence Gordon. US, 1980, color, 93 min. RATED PG
THE YOUNG GIRLS OF ROCHEFORT [Les demoiselles de Rochefort]
Fri, Mar 30, 10:30; Sun, Apr 1, 3:00
Jacques Demy and Michel Legrand's follow-up to THE UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG adds even more color, dancing and the widescreen format to the musical mix. In town for the fair, George Chakiris (WEST SIDE STORY) dances through Danielle Darrieux's snack bar; her restless daughters (real-life sisters Catherine Deneuve and Francoise Dorléac) dream of Paris; sailor-on-leave Jacques Perrin dreams of his ideal woman; and shop owner Michel Piccoli recalls the woman who got away. Then Gene Kelly drops in!
DIR/SCR Jacques Demy; PROD Gilbert de Goldschmidt. France, 1969, color, 125 min. In French with English subtitles. RATED G
Sun, Apr 1, 5:00; Tue, Apr 3, 4:30; Thu, Apr 5, 4:30, 7:00