Gene Kelly was my mother's age. He was born in Pittsburgh's East Liberty neighborhood, and when he was eight years old, his mother enrolled him in a dance class. The other kids teased him, so he quit and dreamt of playing shortstop for the Pirates.
However, by the time he graduated from Peabody High School, he was dancing again. He attended Penn State until the Depression hit, then eventually graduated from the University of Pittsburgh and entered law school.
Two years later he starred in another movie, an adaptation of the Broadway show Brigadoon. The mixed chorus at my small-town high school would later perform that very musical, as I mentioned in this article. Although I had no part in it, I watched my friends rehearse, thus becoming familiar with the tale of an ephemeral Scottish town that appears for only one day per century.
However, I had never seen Gene Kelly's 1954 film until Turner Classic Movies showed it in 2018. Here are some miscellaneous reactions.
The Brigadoon movie omits more than half of the songs that Lerner & Loewe wrote for the Broadway production, including:
That title, Come to Me, Bend to Me, seems to describe Gene Kelly's default posture in every dance with a romantic partner, such as here with Cyd Charisse.
As shown by these stills from the movie, that's Gene's opening move even when his partner is the landscape.
Not long after our high school production, I overheard one of our handsome senior boys jokingly say this to one of our pretty senior girls. I thought the collector's item line sounded familiar, but I didn't connect it to the musical until I saw this movie 53 years later.
She sits up and looks around. What was that? There's a fair? They're sellin' a bit o' milk an' cream? Down on MacConnachy Square?!
ß And, while watching on TCM, for the first time I paid attention to the motivation of the villain of the piece, Harry Beaton. According to the miracle whereby Brigadoon exists forever, none of its residents are ever allowed to leave. When we were high school students, we were happy in our little corner of the world, so we may not have realized that some of our neighbors might be frustrated like Harry.
I've got nothing! Nothing than to be trapped in this peasant village all my life. Look at it! The boundaries of a town? Not to me. Tis more the dimensions of my jail.
I canna leave here. I canna go to the University and make something of myself. And I canna have Jean. So there's nothing left to do but to hate everything and everybody in this cursed town!
Mr. Campbell tries to calm him down. This is only a cursed town if you make it so. To the rest of us, tis a blessed place.