Jump to content
 
Search In
  • More options...
Find results that contain...
Find results in...

The one where the musical star doesn't make a musical


TopBilled
 Share

Recommended Posts

Tonight TCM is airing a batch of Gene Kelly movies. And they are not musicals.

 

imgres11.jpg

 

Yes, he was one of MGM's greatest superstars...and yes, most people associate him with his well-known musical roles. But occasionally, he ventured into other cinematic territory. TCM offers the proof:

 

imgres-13.jpg

1. As a soldier in the war-time drama THE CROSS OF LORRAINE.

 

imgres-21.jpg

2. As a criminal in BLACK HAND. Some might call this miscasting, but the studio bosses probably thought they were giving him a chance to stretch his acting muscles, while coming up with a new way to market his talents.

 

imgres-3.jpg

3. Again, in a military drama, in CREST OF THE WAVE.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes, I remember the first time I saw CRIME WAVE and was surprised to see Gene Nelson in a non-musical role. He didn't do too many dramatic parts. Later he became a director, which also surprised me, when I read about that and noticed his name on the opening credits of a few television series.

 

Gene Kelly turned to directing as well.

 

I guess these are men of many talents. Though the public tends to recognize them more for their work in musicals.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

>As a criminal in BLACK HAND. Some might call this miscasting, but the studio bosses probably thought they were giving him a chance to stretch his acting muscles, while coming up with a new way to market his talents.

 

And they probably didn't have musical property ready for him, so instead of paying him to sit on his butt for a month, they put him in a B&W crime film -- much cheaper to produce than a Technicolor musical.

 

Kelly claimed that after his Broadway success in Pal Joey he was signed by David Selznick as a *dramatic* actor. Selznick didn't do a whole buncha musicals, so there may be some truth to this -- or perhaps DS was thinking about going Goldwyn and making a musical every year or two.

 

Of course that didn't happen, and Kelly proved even less suited to Selznick than Hitchcock was. After several months of inactivity Selznick lent him to MGM for For Me And My Gal, soon afterward selling them Kelly's contract outright.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Interesting tidbits, RichardK. Thanks for sharing that. Well, if Selznick had done musicals, we would have seen Jennifer Jones explore that genre. Around the time Gene Kelly comes to Hollywood, Selznick did hire Ginger Rogers for the homefront drama I'LL BE SEEING YOU. So maybe we would have had a picture with Rogers and Kelly dancing together. A shame that didn't happen!

 

By the way, I rather like BLACK HAND. It reminds me of The Untouchables television series.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I just finished watching CREST OF THE WAVE. I had seen it before, a few years ago, though it was nice to look at it again. It is obvious that Gene Kelly, who is a bit long in the tooth at this point, is being used to sell a story with a cast of lesser talents-- though he is hardly in this movie, with much of the main action taking place without him. His most gripping scene was eating bangers (sausages).

 

My other thought is that he was just abiding by the terms of his MGM contract at this point-- not turning this part down and going on suspension-- but not really getting anything exciting to do that could help his film career as an actor. This is how studio superstars go into decline.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Gene played a musical performer in "Marjorie Morningstar", but the movie itself wasn't a musical. Another example of a studio trying to broaden the appeal of a musical star would be Fox casting Betty Grable in "I Wake Up Screaming" with Victor Mature.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Gene also played a straight dramatic role in "Christmas Holiday," co-starring another musical star, Deanna Durbin. With the two of them in a film with that title you would think this would be a musical, but it definitely isn't, even though Deanna does sing at least one song.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Christmas Holiday" in which Deanna sings twice - Irving Berlin's "Always" and introduces Frank Loesser's "Spring Will Be a Little Late This Year" contains exceptional dramatic performances from both Miss Durbin and from Kelly. It's a dark story that belies the title and is rarely seen, which is unfortunate as it's been said that it's Miss Durbin's favorite role.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

starliteyes,

 

I am glad that you and Paulio have mentioned CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY. This is a film I still have not seen-- and everything I read about it just makes me want to see it even more!

 

It has a Somerset Maugham story and a very good supporting cast-- including the always impressive Gale Sondergaard.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi, TopBilled!

 

I had always wanted to see *Christmas Holiday*, too, and like lavenderblue19 I finally did see it several months ago on youtube. It isn't a great copy, but it's watchable and I'm glad that I finally got the chance to see it. It was interesting to see these two musical stars paired together in such a dark film. I couldn't help wondering how they would have been in a musical together since Deanna really was never called upon to do any major choreography in any of her movies. But then again, Dick Powell and Ruby Keeler were a popular team, with Dick being the non-dancing half in that case.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dick Powell made a great Phillip Marlowe (right? or was it Sam Spade? I get those characters mixed up) but my favorite non-musical Dick Powell performance, actually, was in CHRISTMAS IN JULY. "If you can't sleep at night, it isn't the coffee, it's the bunk!"

 

Then there's someone like Cagney who was great in musicals but hardly got to make any...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You're right; he was Philip Marlowe and he was very good. I also liked him in *Christmas in July,*a very enjoyable film.

 

I wish James Cagney would have made more musicals and, from what I've read about him, it seems that he welcomed the opportunity to trade in a machine gun for a pair of dancing shoes. I always get a kick out of watching him dance. He had a style of his own - but then he had a style of his own no matter what he did.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

© 2022 Turner Classic Movies Inc. All Rights Reserved Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Cookie Settings
×
×
  • Create New...