From Edge Boston…
Turner Classic Movies is at it again, concocting a whole new batch of DVD box sets. Former compilations have been devoted to individual stars or cinematic genres, and the new titles are no exceptions. The first is dedicated to the king of the MGM movie musical, Gene Kelly.
The Greatest Classic Legends Collection: Gene Kelly contains four classics of the beloved dancer/actor, all of which have been previously released individually and in collections. The first is the 1945 “Anchors Aweigh.”
As sailors on leave in LA, Gene and Sinatra both fall for Kathryn Grayson. Though only one gets the girl in the finale, all ends happily in this infectious Technicolor schlock. Everyone is in peak form: Grayson chirping the classics, and Sinatra his pop standards, while Kelly undertakes some of his most astounding, athletic dancing. Lending some class, pianist/conductor Jose Iturbi leads an orchestra of grand pianos in an extravagant “Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody #2.” In one of the wonderful fantasy sequences Kelly dances with the animated mouse, Jerry.
In the 1949 “On the Town,” Kelly and Sinatra are on leave again, this time in Manhattan. Funny-man Jules Munshin tags along, and the trio finds romance and adventure, while singing and dancing what remained of the lacerated Bernstein score. Co-directed by Kelly and Stanley Donen, “On the Town” resonates with innovative pre-echoes of the team’s “Singing in the Rain.”
From New York, we fly to France for MGM’s tribute to Paris and Gershwin. The 1951 “An American in Paris” is one of Kelly’s most popular efforts, and he shines as a Left-Bank painter with an innate flair for dancing. He becomes enamored of a chum’s girl, Leslie Caron, and the film culminates in the renowned ballet sequence.
You’ll be seeing plaid when you’re done with the 1954 Brigadoon. Here, Kelly’s cohort is Van Johnson. While hiking in Scotland, the friends stumble onto the mythical village of Brigadoon. Kelly finds true love, and a damn good dance partner, with the winsome Cyd Charisse. This splashy Cinemascope entry boasts some enduring Lerner and Loewe numbers. The DVD is the only one of the quartet with less than excellent picture quality.
Though the special features are sparse, the innumerable songs, dances and production numbers of the four films make the new TCM Kelly set well worth the reasonable $24.99 price.
TCM Greatest Classic Legends Film Collection: Gene Kelly