One of the definite perks of being a movie reviewer is that I get to sit here and sigh, and then tell you why I’m doing it. Gene Kelly . . . sigh.
Gene has done scads of fabulous films – I don’t think I’ve ever seen him deliver a bad performance. I’d like to share four of my favorite Gene Kelly films with you right now and tell you why they’ve made this top ten list.
1. Of course, the first on my list would be “Singin’ in the Rain.” Who doesn’t just adore this movie? Gene stars as Don Lockwood, a silent film star who discovers that Hollywood is going in the direction of talking pictures, and his co-star, Lina LaMont, has an irritating voice. With the help of Kathy Seldon (Debbie Reynolds) Don saves his career, after delivering his most memorable dance routine ever.
2. “Summer Stock” is a movie that I only saw a short time ago, but it contains what I consider to be Gene’s second best dance routine, and he considers it his very best. While waiting for ill co-star Judy Garland to show up on the set, Gene had a lot of time to experiment, and he came up with a dance number involving a squeaky floor and a sheet of newspaper. It was genius.
3. “Inherit the Wind” blew me away. This is the only Gene Kelly film I’ve ever seen where he neither sings nor dances, and may be the only one he ever made. This is the movie where he proves he’s an actor. He plays a reporter who is covering a law suit to determine whether a high school teacher has the right to teach the law of evolution or not. This film also stars Spencer Tracy and truly is one that has impacted me long after seeing it.
4. “Les Girls” is another film I had never heard of until recently, and I loved every minute of it. Kelly plays a womanizer in this film told through the eyes of two different women who saw the situation differently, and he has to step in and set the story straight. This film contained a lot of comedy and great music.
Of course, there are many other great Gene Kelly films. “Brigadoon,” “Cover Girl,” “An American in Paris” . . . sigh. We won’t worry about the films I hated, “Marjorie Morningstar” and “Xanadu” – they’re overshadowed by the other great films. If you’re looking to try some of the very best of Gene, try the four above. You won’t be disappointed.