William Holden Wednesday: On the set of Sabrina

I might’ve known that as soon as I committed to doing a weekly series on the blog, life would throw a few personal and work emergencies at me!  Because of all that, this week’s offering is going to be low on content, but high in pretty pictures.

William Holden and Audrey Hepburn fell in love while filming 1954’s SabrinaIt didn’t work out in the end, of course.  He was married, albeit unhappily, and though he wanted to leave his wife for her Audrey broke off the relationship.

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From Golden Boy: The Untold Story of William Holden by Bob Thomas:

Ernie Lehman [Sabrina’s screenwriter] recognized what was happening when he dropped into Bill’s dressing room one day.  Lehman had been working so hard on rewrites of the Sabrina script that he had broken down in a weeping fit in a corner of the stage.  “Go home and get some rest; you deserve it,” [director Billy] Wilder said.  Before leaving, Lehman wanted to say goodbye to Bill Holden.

He walked into Holden’s dressing room unannounced.  He found Bill and Audrey standing a foot apart facing each other, their eyes meeting.  Lehman said his farewell and departed, realizing that something profound was happening between Bill Holden and Audrey Hepburn.

In these pictures from the set of Sabrina, it’s pretty clear to us, too.  They look so besotted with one another.

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William Holden eventually divorced his wife and went on to have other relationships (including one with Stefanie Powers, a/k/a Jennifer Hart), but he called Audrey the love of his life.  He was so wrecked by working with her again on Paris When it Sizzles ten years after Sabrina that he pretty much spent the whole time intoxicated.

A sad end to their relationship, but the chemistry between Holden and Hepburn in Sabrina is delightful.  For me the most enjoyable parts of the movie are their scenes together, beginning when Sabrina returns home from Paris a sophisticated and elegant young lady.

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We’re supposed to root for Sabrina to get together with Humphrey Bogart’s Linus Larrabee, but I’m afraid I’m always a little disappointed when she doesn’t get together with Holden’s David Larrabee.  Even though I know he’s a shallow playboy who would’ve probably broken Sabrina’s heart, I still find him much more appealing with Hepburn than the miscast and slightly ancient Bogart.

More from Golden Boy:

One scene called for [Holden] to vault over a fence as he approached Audrey.  He performed the leap with total ease on the first take.  “That was good, Bill,” said Wilder, “but a little too fast.  Could you do it a little slower, please.”  To the astonishment of the director and everyone else, Holden repeated the leap and seemed almost to pause in the air before landing.”

It’s a great moment, and one of my favorites in the movie.  Sabrina’s dream must truly seem to her to finally be coming true, with this handsome man she’s loved for years entranced by her and blithely leaping over a wall to take her in his arms.  You can see it below, at about 4:40.

Oh, that dress by Hubert de Givenchy!  It’s the most divine gown ever made for the movies.  Or maybe just the most divine gown ever made, period.

For a more detailed and insightful look at Sabrina, I recommend Jacqueline Lynch’s two-part discussion of the film at Another Old Movie Blog. She captures the mid-century dreaminess of the movie so well.  She says:

It is a time when dancing was a social accomplishment and seduction took time. We see it is a time of a single strand of pearls and strapless evening gowns with full skirts. Young people at this period did not want to be young, for to be young was to be gauche. Young people yearned for sophistication and experience, to emulate their elders, as Sabrina does when she spies the party from the branches of a tree on the estate.

Check it out, it’s a lovely read about a lovely film.  More Bill Holden next week, and something more substantial than pictures and quotes, I hope!

Breakfast at Tiffany’s: The Official 50th Anniversary Companion

Today I received Breakfast at Tiffany’s: The Official 50th Anniversary Companion by Sarah Gristwood, a book I pre-ordered ages ago and had almost forgotten about.  It was a pleasant surprise to get it today, after so many months.

I read it all in one sitting tonight and overall it’s a lovely book and a nice behind-the-scenes look at the film.  It doesn’t cover anything I didn’t already know after reading Sam Wasson’s fantastic Fifth Avenue, 5.a.m., but it’s full of beautiful photographs and is a pretty coffee table book.

Gristwood’s book contains chapters focusing on, among other things, the script based ever so loosely on Truman Capote’s novella, Audrey Hepburn and the other actors cast, the fashion influence of the film, Mancini’s song “Moon River,” and the movie’s critical reception and lasting allure.

My only issue with the book is my lack of faith in some of the photo captions.  For instance the author (or whoever is in charge of captioning photographs) twice labels Audrey Hepburn’s guitar instructor, who taught her to play “Moon River,”  as Henry Mancini.  That’s just a pitiful lack of double-checking, in my opinion, and annoyed me on behalf of the late Mancini, who was the bee’s knees and deserved to have a real picture of himself in the book.

Here’s Audrey Hepburn with someone who is not Henry Mancini.  This photo and another of the same guitar teacher posing with George Peppard are mislabeled.

Here’s the real Mancini, around the time of Breakfast at Tiffany’s.  Mancini was brilliant.  Just think of all the fantastic TV and movie scores he wrote — Peter Gunn, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Days of Wine and Roses, Charade, Two for the Road, The Pink Panther, The Thorn Birds and many more.  Just want to give a shout-out to Hank!

There are a few other little details in the captions that don’t seem quite right to me, but that’s par for the course in publishing these days, I find.  Errors galore!

Still, even with those minor quibbles the book was an enjoyable read and a pretty coffee table book I’m sure I’ll flip through many times.  If you are like me and feel the need to own every book about Audrey Hepburn that comes down the pike, you’ll probably want to buy this one, too. Or at least add it to your holiday wish list.

Fifteen Movie Questions Meme

So much for me posting up a storm here in May!  I can’t believe tomorrow is June 1st.  It’s been a busy couple of months and I’ve hardly watched any movies at all.  Here’s hoping the summer provides me with some quieter moments, so I’ll have more time for watching and writing.  My backlog of unwatched films recorded off TCM is getting ridiculous!

Anyway, several people, including Clara at Via Margutta 51, have done the 15 Movie Questions meme recently, and it looked like fun.  If you’d like to do it yourself, consider yourself tagged.

1.  Movie you love with a passion.

There are a lot of these!  Maybe An Affair to Remember.  I’ve seen it so many times and still think it’s the most romantic movie ever.

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2.  Movie you vow to never watch.

Never is a very long time, so who knows?  There was a time when I hated Westerns, after all, but now there are quite a few I love.  But I’m definitely averse to horror movies, especially modern day gory ones, so probably those.

3.  Movie that literally left you speechless.

Leave Her to Heaven – the rowboat scene.  (Starts at about 2:20 below.)  I was so stunned and horrified the first time I saw it, and it still leaves me speechless every time.

4.  Movie you always recommend.

The More the Merrier.  To me it’s a perfect romantic comedy, and yet a lot of people outside of the classic movie fandom have never heard of it – or of Jean Arthur, Joel McCrea and Charles Coburn.

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5.  Actor/actress you always watch, no matter how crappy the movie.

Cary Grant.  I’ll watch anything he’s in at least once!  Obviously I’m not the only one who feels this way, given the recent releases of many of his early ‘30s movies on DVD.

6.  Actor/actress you don’t get the appeal for.

John Wayne.

7.  Actor/actress, living or dead, you’d love to meet.

Cary Grant.  I’m reading his daughter’s book now (review to come!), and it’s made me adore him even more than I already did.  I’d love to have known him.  I’d also love to have met Audrey Hepburn, the sweetest lady ever, and Montgomery Clift, because he was so sad and I think he could’ve used a hug.  (And some anti-depressants, bless him.)

8.  Sexiest actor/actress you’ve seen. (Picture required!)

Gary Cooper, no question.  In his prime he was absolutely the sexiest, most beautiful man ever in the movies.  Tall and lanky, with masculine strength and that sweet, shy demeanor, he could wear bespoke European suits or rugged American cowboy gear with equal elegance.  That pretty face and those bedroom eyes, swoon!

He was basically catnip for women, both on and off screen, and continues to be dreamy even to girls born many years after died.  I think I’d better add him to question #7, above!  I’d love to have met Coop, that’s for sure.  Preferably alone on a deserted tropical island.

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9.  Dream cast.

Cary Grant and Barbara Stanwyck in a romantic comedy.  Why did that never happen?

10.  Favorite actor pairing.

Rock Hudson and Doris Day.  They were so much fun together.

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11.  Favorite movie setting.  

Paris.  So many of my favorite movies take place there:  An American in Paris, Gigi, Sabrina, Funny Face, Charade.  Heck, pretty much every Audrey Hepburn movie is set in Paris!

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12.  Favorite decade for movies.

Probably the ‘30s.

9th May 1934: Myrna Loy (1905 - 1993) and William Powell (1892 - 1984) play sleuthing couple Nick and Nora Charles in 'The Thin Man', directed by W S Van Dyke.

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13.  Chick flick or action movie?

Chick flick.

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14. Hero, villain or anti-hero?

Hero.

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15.  Black and white or color?

Black and white, I suppose, although I wouldn’t want to live without all my beautiful Technicolor movies.

Fifth Avenue, 5 a.m.: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and the Dawn of the Modern Woman

Author Sam Wasson’s marvelous chronicle of the making of Breakfast at Tiffany’sFifth Avenue, 5 A.M.,  is a very quick and enjoyable read, full of juicy gossip about everyone from Truman Capote to Henry Mancini to Edith Head to George Peppard.  And of course there’s plenty about dear Audrey Hepburn as well.  A few thoughts on the book…

 Truman Capote was such a messed up individual, but then I already knew that even before reading this book. For instance, the marital advice he gave his supposed best friend Babe Paley — that her husband had basically bought her and her marriage was her job, regardless of what a cheating, horrible nightmare Bill Paley was — was awful and completely self-serving. Truman eventually used intimate and humiliating details of the Paley marriage in his unfinished novel, Answered Prayers, a move which cut him off from Babe forever.

I’ve read quite a bit about Capote over the years, and while I sometimes feel sorry for him and am always fascinated by him, I never like him.  Another book I can highly recommend for anyone interested in Capote is Deborah Davis’s entertaining Party of the Century: The Fabulous Story of Truman Capote and His Black and White Ball

What I didn’t know before this book was what a self-absorbed, wannabe-Method jackass George Peppard was. Poor Patricia Neal bore the brunt of it during the shooting of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, along with director Blake Edwards.

The book included some new-to-me sad facts about the Audrey Hepburn/Mel Ferrer marriage. Nutshell version: AH – angelic, of course, but also too easily pushed around; MF – a jealous, domineering jerk.  Specific example: Once, at a  dinner party, Audrey unthinkingly put her elbows on the table. From the book:

Mel was seated next to her, and when he saw this, he picked up a fork, slipped its prongs under her elbows, and said — in a voice loud enough for all to hear — “Ladies do not put their elbows on the table.” It was the sort of oppressively awkward moment that can only be met with silence. Audrey was stricken, and the table, mortified. Nothing was said. She simply removed her elbows and put her hands in her lap.

That was hardly the worst thing Mel ever did or said to Audrey, but just reading about it made me seethe. Can you imagine anyone humiliating sweet Audrey like that or telling her how to be a lady? Audrey Hepburn, the most inherently ladylike and delightful woman ever?  Unbelievable.

Other interesting tidbits:

- Breakfast at Tiffany’s originally had a different ending that was actually filmed, but is now lost. Paul and Holly still find the cat and wind up together, but the sun is shining and Holly decides to name the cat “Sam.”

- The wonderful “No matter where you run, you just end up running into yourself” speech Paul gives Holly after she dumps Cat out of the taxi and into the rain was actually written by Blake Edwards, not screenwriter George Axelrod. Edwards also took a lot of liberties when filming the famously funny and zany cocktail party scene. Neither of these things endeared him to Axelrod, even though they (or probably because they) made the movie much better.

- “Moon River” was originally called “Blue River,” and though it went on to be one of the most beloved and recorded songs of all time, a studio executive almost had Audrey’s performance of it cut from the movie.

- Before George Peppard was cast (against the wishes of Blake Edwards, who must’ve known what a pain in the butt he would be), Tony Curtis and Steve McQueen were in the running for the part of Paul Varjak. (V-A-R-J-A-K.) McQueen couldn’t do it because he had another picture obligation, but Curtis really wanted the part. Mel Ferrer made a fuss about not wanting his wife to work with Tony Curtis (see above re: domineering jerk), so that was that. I really can’t imagine Tony Curtis in the part, though. Peppard may have been awful on the set, but he’s Paul to me.  Plus, he was so pretty!

 - Paramount did a big publicity buildup, announcing that they’d cast a famous Japanese comic named Ohayo Arigatou for the part of Mr. Yuniyoshi. They created a whole hoax backstory for this guy, and passed along crazy and in retrospect highly offensive stories about him to the press, which they then reported. It was then revealed that the man they’d been writing about did not exist, and that Mickey Rooney had gotten the part. The whole Rooney as Yuniyoshi debacle is a horribly shameful mark on this otherwise delightful movie.

Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M. is one of those nonfiction books that reads as easily and enjoyably as a novel. Highly recommended!

Ten North Frederick

I feel a little bad about making this the “All Gary Cooper, All the Time” blog! Not everybody is as crazy about him as I am, after all. Still, I can only motivate myself to write about the things I’m interested in at any particular moment, and right now I’m very focused on Cooper and his films. It’ll pass eventually, but for the time being the obsession continues.

I do plan to devote a post each Friday in February to another actor whose work was little known to me until fairly recently, but whom I’m enjoying more and more – Fred MacMurray. So even if you’re all Cooped out, there’s at least that to look forward to.  This Friday I’ll be writing about a charming, funny and very romantic 1935 movie starring MacMurray and the lovely Carole Lombard – Hands Across the Table.

In the meantime, back to Gary!

 Ten North Frederick (1958)

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Ten North Frederick has to be one of the saddest movies I’ve seen in a long time. The sadness is multi-layered too, since not only is the story itself a melancholy one, but a knowledge of Gary Cooper’s real life at this stage of his career hangs over everything and gives the film even more resonance.

Based on a novel by John O’Hara, Ten North Frederick tells the story of Joe Chapin (Cooper), a wealthy and prominent attorney with political goals he’s somewhat ambivalent about. His wife, Edith (Geraldine Fitzgerald), is the one with the real ambition. She is ruthless and calculating, pushing her husband relentlessly toward the future she wants for him. She’s also hard on their two teenaged children, Ann (Diane Varsi) and Joby (Ray Stricklyn), directing their lives so that the Chapins look like the picture-perfect family they need to be to make it big in politics.

Joe is weak and easily manipulated by his wife.  He loves his children and seems to be a decent man, but when Edith pressures him to handle things a certain way – either in politics or in their family – Joe complies.  Joe’s career begins to unravel when he follows Edith’s guidance and makes a play to become the nominee for lieutenant governor, a move which involves making a $100,000 “campaign contribution” to a corrupt party operative.

tennorthfrederickAt about this time Ann, with whom he has always had a very close, sweet relationship, rebels against her restrictive upbringing and gets pregnant by a trumpet player she picked up at a dance. Ann and the musician quickly marry, then just as quickly annul the marriage thanks to the Chapins’ interference. Ann has a miscarriage and runs away to New York, vowing never to return to her parents’ house again. Joe’s political ambitions are thwarted too, in large part because of the scandal in the family.

All of this causes the already cold Chapin marriage to fall apart even further. Edith tells Joe that she hates him , calling him a failure and admitting to a past affair.  Joe is stunned but resigned.  They’re both too old to do anything but carry on together, no matter how unhappy they may be.

When a business trip leads him to New York and what he hopes will be a reconciliation with his daughter, Joe is particularly vulnerable and lonely. Ann is not at home when he visits, but her kind, intelligent roommate Kate Drummond (Suzy Parker) is.  They spend the evening together – talking, dancing, and falling in love.  Despite their better judgment, the two are soon conducting a secret affair and hoping to marry.  Unfortunately their time together is brief, with convention and self-sacrifice getting in the way of a happy ending.

According to Cooper’s Women  (the veracity of which is clearly without question, ha!), Ten North Frederick was snidely referred to in Hollywood as The Gary Cooper Story because of its similarity to Cooper’s own recent history. While filming The Fountainhead in 1949, Cooper fell in love with his young co-star, Patricia Neal.  Their three year affair led him to separate from his wife and placed a strain on his relationship with his beloved daughter. In the end Neal and Cooper saw there was no future for them and went their separate ways, Gary returning to his wife and family, Patricia eventually marrying author Roald Dahl. Ten North Frederick’s story must have hit very close to home for Cooper.

cooper and fitzgeraldAs much as my preference is for Cooper’s movies of the ‘30s and ‘40s, when he was young, attractive and in his prime, there’s something so moving about his later performances. He gives us such a sense of resignation, loneliness and world-weariness in those films.  By that point Cooper’s looks had faded, his health was rapidly deteriorating, and his years as a serial philanderer had taken a toll on him and his family.  On screen, that’s all there in his eyes and in the way he moves. Coop thought all that Method stuff was a lot of hooey, but surely his real life experiences greatly affected his portrayal of Joe Chapin — a man who made mistakes, estranged those he loved the most, and experienced only a short period of happiness afterwards before succumbing to ill health.

Geraldine Fitzgerald is brilliant as Edith Chapin.  She’s an awful, icy woman, yet Fitzgerald  manages to demonstrate that without making her a one-dimensional or clichéd villain.  Diane Varsi and Ray Strycklyn are good as the Chapins’ children, who grow closer to each other because of their shared troubles.  They display a believably loving brother/sister bond throughout the film

Suzy Parker gives a touching performance as a young woman who sees the good and the kindness in Joe and can’Annex%20-%20Cooper,%20Gary%20(Ten%20North%20Frederick)_01t help falling in love with him, despite their age difference and the obstacles between them.  She’s also unbelievably beautiful, of course. Her character is “a photographic model,” and when they first meet Joe says he thinks he’s seen her on some magazine covers. I’m sure audiences must’ve chuckled when they heard that, since Parker was the most famous model of the 1950s and had been on the cover of Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and many other magazines innumerable times.

Unlike the May/December romance in 1957’s Love in the Afternoon, I thought the relationship between the characters played by Parker and Cooper was believable and romantic.  It’s always been hard for me to see the fifty-something Cooper as carefree bachelor Frank Flanagan, flitting from woman to woman until he’s captured by the girlish Audrey Hepburn.  It’s much more believable to see him as Joe Chapin, a flawed but decent older man finding a brief moment of happiness with the young but womanly Kate.  Parker was even younger than Audrey Hepburn, but the age difference doesn’t feel so jarring to me.  The chemistry seems right and the two were physically well matched.  Suzy Parker was so tall and striking, and though Cooper wasn’t what he once was, he was still Gary Cooper, quite capable of making women weak in the knees when he wanted to.

Although the story is supposed to take place from 1940 to 1945, there’s no attempt to make it look or feel like that time period. Everyone’s clothing and hairstyles are pure late-‘50s, with the men in suits with the narrower lapels and ties that were then in style and women in cinched-waist, full-skirted New Look fashions and cute little cocktail hats. Other than mentions of Roosevelt’s reelection and Joby’s joining the army, the story felt very much like a 1950s one à la Douglas Sirk, with its themes of forbidden love, illicit sex, and the overbearing influence of a repressive, judgmental society.

Tracking this one down to watch took some doing!  I don’t recall seeing it on the TCM schedule lately, and the version someone has uploaded to YouTube is too low quality to bother watching.  I finally found it online through Comcast

I really wasn’t expecting much from the movie, but I ended up enjoying Ten North Frederick a lot.   It made me cry, and as Louis B. Mayer once said, “If a story makes me cry, I know it’s good.”  Like L.B., I’m a sucker for a well-made tearjerker!

Top 10 Movie Musicals

I just love making lists.  No matter how silly it is to narrow down favorite things in some arbitrary way or how changeable my opinions might be, it’s still a fun way to pass the time.

Here are my top 10 favorite movie musicals – at least as of today.  Tomorrow I may remember another one I love and wish I’d put it on the list!

 10.  Funny Face

Fred Astaire, Audrey Hepburn, Kay Thompson, beautiful tunes by Gershwin, gorgeous ‘50s Paris, and super chic fashion by Givenchy.  What’s not to love?  Think Pink!

Favorite number:  “Clap Yo Hands”

9.  The Sound of Music

I almost can’t believe this movie is so far down on my list, considering that I’ve loved it since before I was even born!  It’s my mom’s favorite musical, so I think I listened to “Do Re Mi” and “My Favorite Things” in utero.  This is the warmest, most loveable story, and yet in spite of singing nuns, adorable children, and breathtaking mountain vistas it’s never too cute or precious.  The melancholy of impending war hangs like a cloud over everything.  I never fail to weep when Captain Von Trapp sings “Edelweiss” at the festival and can’t make it through the song, so heartsick is he about leaving his beloved Austria.

Favorite number:  “Something Good.”  What can I say?  I’m a romantic. 

 8.  Singin’ in the Rain

Pure joy.  This is a movie that always cheers me up whenever I’m feeling blue.  Gene Kelly dancing with an umbrella, Donald O’Connor bouncing off the walls, Debbie Reynolds popping out of cakes – this movie has everything.  I don’t know what else to say except that it’s hilarious, romantic, and contains some of the happiest song and dance numbers ever filmed.

Favorite number:  “Moses Supposes”

7.  Calamity Jane

I love, worship and adore Doris Day (making it all the more shocking that I haven’t talked about her here before this), and this is my favorite of her musicals.  Calamity Jane was Warner’s answer to MGM’s Annie Get Your Gun, and as much as I like Annie, I enjoy Calamity Jane even more.  It may not have as many instantly recognizable songs (although “Secret Love” and “Black Hills of Dakota” are classics), but I like the story more and I think Doris Day gives one of her best performances as the rough and tumble tomboy Calamity Jane.  She’s a hoot to watch sparring with Wild Bill Hickok, played the handsome Howard Keel.  (He was also in Annie Get Your Gun, because you can’t have a western musical without Howard Keel!)

Favorite number: “Black Hills of Dakota”

 6.  My Fair Lady

One of the wittiest, most erudite musicals ever, and one of the most deliciously snarky.  Rex Harrison simply is Henry Higgins.  I’ve seen quite a few stage productions of My Fair Lady, and while there’ve been some very passable Eliza Doolittles, I’ve yet to see a Professor Higgins who can remotely touch Harrison’s performance.  He’s marvelous as the arrogant, misanthropic, sexist bachelor who finds he can’t quite live without the squashed cabbage leaf he found in Covent Garden.  Audrey Hepburn makes a lovely, touching Eliza.  Nobody played ugly duckling (ugly, ha!) to swan stories quite like her.

Favorite number: “Just You Wait”

 5.  Easter Parade

It seems wrong that only one Judy Garland musical made it onto this list, because I completely adore her and think she was the greatest woman in movie musicals ever.  (See, these lists are such baloney!)  Still, she’s here in Easter Parade, beautiful, vulnerable, spunky, and with more talent than pretty much anyone.  Anyone other than Fred Astaire, that is.  I love how much fun they seem to have together in numbers like “We’re a Couple of Swells.”  Ann Miller is fabulous in this movie, and while Peter Lawford might not have much in the way of musical talent, he’s very pretty to look at.

Favorite number:  “Drum Crazy”

 4.  An American in Paris

For a movie filmed entirely on the MGM lot, An American in Paris certainly influenced what everyone imagines Paris to be like!  Gene Kelly took his dancing to another level with this movie, particularly in the “American in Paris Ballet.”  It’s so innovative and beautiful, with its painting-come-to-life feel.  Leslie Caron is adorable in her screen debut and Oscar Levant is too funny as Kelly’s grouchy concert pianist friend.  Plus – can I say this without sounding like a weirdo? – Gene Kelly has an ass that just won’t quit.  (Apparently I’m not the only one who thinks so.  This blog post is hilarious!)

Favorite number:  “Tra-La-La”

3.  The Band Wagon

For many years I couldn’t stand MGM musicals like The Band Wagon.  They hardly had a plot!  The songs were just thrown in there!  I liked the more story-driven musicals like those by Rogers and Hammerstein.  Gradually I came to appreciate the “let’s put on a show” musicals, however, and this one is a great example of that.  I love the colorfulness, the costumes, the amazing performances by uber-talented stars.  There’s a story here, but it’s not the main thing.  Mostly it’s about song and dance numbers that transport you, take you out of yourself and your humdrum life, and fill you will joy.  Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse make sublime dance partners.  Also, this movie makes me wish Nanette Fabray had been in more musicals.  She’s so endearing dancing with Fred to “I Love Louisa” and singing “Louisiana Hayride.”

Favorite number:  “Dancing in the Dark”

 2.  Swing Time

One of the quintessential Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers movies, and the one I can never see too many times.  It was hard to choose between this and Top Hat, but since Swing Time features my all-time favorite Astaire/Rogers dance number, “Pick Yourself Up,” it’s the one that made the cut.

Favorite number: “Pick Yourself Up”

 1.  Gigi

I love every moment, every song, every little thing about this movie.  It’s absolutely perfectly cast, starting with Leslie Caron’s charming turn as Gigi.  Her transformation from gangly schoolgirl to elegant young woman is completely believable.  Louis Jourdan is a dreamy French dreamboat as  world-weary Gaston, and Maurice Chevalier steals the show every time he’s on screen.  No one could have played Gaston’s elderly playboy uncle like Chevalier.  Hermione Gingold and Isabel Jeans are fantastic, too.  The lush, painterly sets and costumes, memorable music, and a story in which love wins out over cynicism all come together to make this my favorite musical.

Favorite numbers:  “The Night They Invented Champagne”, “I Remember it Well”, “She Is Not Thinking of Me”, “Gigi”