Legendary dancer, actor, singer, choreographer, producer and director Gene Kelly was born 100 years ago today. Although his career included several dramatic roles – including a memorable performance as a reporter based on H.L. Mencken in 1960’s Inherit the Wind – Kelly is best known for his immense contribution to that uniquely American art form – the musical comedy.
The musical was nothing new in the 1940’s and 1950’s when MGM was producing epic classics in all their Technicolor majesty. Ever since the dawn of sound recording in film, our first instincts were to sing – starting with Al Jolson in The Jazz Singer (1927) through Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers dancing away the 1930’s cheek to cheek right up through the Kelly-helmed masterpieces of the genre including Anchors Away (1945), An American in Paris (1951) and the inimitable Singin’ in the Rain (1952), which takes place during those transitional years from silence to sound. Not even bad weather, it seems, can keep us from singing on film.
Often times, in fact, the songs themselves weren’t even new. Continue reading →