***A quick note before the start of my post: I actually started writing this a few days ago but didn’t get a chance to finish it. When I got online today, I discovered that it is the 16th anniversary of the death of legendary actor and dancer Gene Kelly, one of the subjects of this post. The timing is totally coincidental since I didn’t realize this day was coming up, but I just wanted to say a quick word to acknowledge the date, which I know is a very sad one for many of his fans, and dedicate this post to his memory.***
Gene Kelly in Cover Girl (1944)
Do you love Gene Kelly? I do! But it had been so long since I’d watched one of his movies that I had forgotten just how much I loved him and his dancing. When I watched a YouTube video of one of his dance numbers from the movie Cover Girl (1944), it reminded me that I really needed to get back into watching his movies. Since I thought the aforementioned dance routine, commonly referred to as his “Alter Ego” number, looked amazing and I had yet to see Cover Girl, I decided to watch it earlier this week.
On a side note, I found that video in a series of blog posts put together by Kelli, one of the contributors to a site devoted to Gene Kelly called Gene Kelly Fans. I’d encourage you to visit that site to learn more about him and also to read her six part series highlighting an interview she did for a documentary called “Dancing in the Rain: Gene Kelly” which celebrates Gene’s life and career. If you love Gene Kelly, you will really enjoy them. If you are not yet a fan, I think there is a good chance you will be after you get to know him better.
I would also recommend watching the movie Cover Girl, which I loved, even if you are not necessarily a fan of musicals. It’s not my favorite type of movie to watch, but I do enjoy them on occasion and this was one of my favorites. It contains some enjoyable musical numbers featuring the music of Jerome Kern and Ira Gershwin and their Academy Award nominated song “Long Ago (and Far Away),” great choreography by Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen, and wonderful chemistry between the three leads Gene Kelly, Rita Hayworth, and Phil Silvers. There were also two other visual elements that really stood out to me.
Gowns Designed by Travis Banton
First were the gowns designed by Travis Banton, a costume designer I first discovered when I saw his designs in the movie, The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry (1945), which I reviewed last year. I gave some biographical information in that post if you would like to learn more about Travis, the designer that Edith Head credits with being a big influence on her career. I’m not really a huge fan of TechniColor, however, I didn’t mind it in this movie as it allowed for the beautiful colors of his designs to be on full display. I love the gown that Rita Hayworth is wearing in this picture.
Real Life Magazine Cover Girls
The other thing I loved was a number set to the movie’s title song, which featured real life cover girls participating in a fashion show with their images then appearing on the cover of various magazines. While I enjoyed viewing the model’s fashions, the main reason I enjoyed it was because of the pictures of the magazines themselves.
Somewhere along the line I developed a keen interest in the history of magazines; when they were created, how they’ve evolved over the years, and if they are still in print today. I wrote down the titles of all the magazines, and now I have a fun research project for the future. Some of the magazines they showed were Cosmopolitan, McCall’s, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Woman’s Home Companion, The American Home, Mademoiselle, Glamour, Redbook, Farm Journal, and Look.
Are you a fan of Gene Kelly? What is your favorite Gene Kelly movie and/or dance number?