Cover Girl (1944) - As good as he looked in black and white, Gene Kelly fairly glowed in colour; not that you'd know it from watching this filmic outing, seeing as whenever he's on camera he's standing too close to the supernova that is Rita Hayworth to be seen. Given almost complete creative control over the film, Kelly gave himself an opportunity to dance with his own reflection. With Phil Silvers and Eve Arden - on hand as much for comic relief as to cleanse the palate - Cover Girl is moodier and more atmospheric than the average musical, which makes it ideal for people who crave eye-candy but are uncomfortable with movie characters suddenly breaking into song. Directed by Charles Vidor, the film features songs by Jerome Kern and Ira Gershwin, including the classic Long Ago (and Far Away).
On the Town (1949) - One of my favourite movies of all time, On the Town reteams Kelly with his Anchors Aweigh costar Sinatra, in addition to Ann Miller, Betty Garrett, Jules Munshin, and Vera-Ellen, which doesn't merely add to the talent but multiplies it, or possibly does some of that algebra stuff to it. The point is, the whole adds up to so much more than the sum of its parts. The real star of the film, of course, is New York City; many principal scenes were shot on location there - a major innovation for the time - including at the American Museum of Natural History, the Brooklyn Bridge, and Rockefeller Center.
An American in Paris (1951) - With a glittering score by George Gershwin, the full MGM design team on overdrive, and dances choreographed by Gene Kelly, how could this movie be anything but sublime? Fortunately, we'll never have to answer that because a) it's a rhetorical question, and b) it really is sublime. Kelly's love for French culture is evident in every frame, and surely Paris - even at its loveliest - could never have been this lovely.
Brigadoon (1954) - As musicals go, Vincente Minnelli's Brigadoon doesn't; where musicals are supposed to be bright and frothy and tow the establishment line, Brigadoon is dark and downbeat and subversive. Mean-spirited even. Which must be why the lovers of musicals with a cynical bent have always treasured the story of the Scottish town that only comes to life once every century.
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