GENE KELLY by Clive Hirschhorn


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More body than the usual sawdust which passes as a film star's biography, Gene Kelly reminds us strongly of its subject's remarkable achievements. For one thing, Kelly liberated the film musical from being the forgettable tale with several musical plums stuck in at random, and integrated music, dance, song, acting and story in his top pictures, Singin' in the Rain, On the Town, An American in Paris and The Pirate. All of them wear fairly well, especially Singin' in the Rain (with Kelly's very moving umbrella and puddle-splashing routine); The Pirate is now a cult picture, while On the Town paved the way for West Side Story. Kelly's style is an athletic, cheerful mix of tap and ballet, and his solos always grow out of the character he plays and advance the story. He was a very talented child, danced at seven, ice-skated like a miracle at twelve, had his own dance studio in his early twenties. After a start on Broadway, he was given the title role in the original Pal Joey in which his star rose. After a great run of MGM musicals, his dancing career dipped heavily, but he came back as the director of the 24-million.dollar Hello, Dolly! (it failed). His first marriage, to Betsy Blair, ended so that she could ""grow up""; his second wife died of leukemia in 1973. A hard worker who can be infectiously happy, he'll be seen again. The book does not soft-soap his failures and it tap taps along.

Pub Date: April 30th, 1975
Publisher: Regnery