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Tag Archives: Gene Kelly

Hail, Caesar!

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hail-caesar

Image credit: Hail, Caesar! 2016

It was with a heavy heart that I had to exclude this week’s film from my Top 5 Films of 2016 list last month. If it had been the Top 6 films, Hail,Caesar! (DVD/Download) would have certainly been included. My only hesitation? That I might be among a small minority of people who think this film was hilarious and brilliant. Thankfully, the Coen Bros. are doing their part to keep classic film buffs like me happy. Trendiness be damned.

Hail, Caesar! is a screwball satire of the 1950’s Hollywood studio system, where genre films were churned out at an alarming rate, and the scandals of the stars got handled by the studio’s “fixer”.  Eddie Mannix (that name!!!) has his work cut out for him as he deals with blockhead matinee idols, kidnapping plots, pregnant mermaids, communist musical stars, not to mention threats from competing gossip columnists (both played splendidly by Tilda Swinton). And you thought Hollywood in the 50’s was idyllic? Would that it were so simple.

I knew I loved this picture when the Frank Lloyd Wright house from A Summer Place came on the screen. Situated on the beach in Carmel-by-the-Sea, it has a classy, retro, Bond-villain appeal to it. Perfect for a bunch of intellectual communist sympathizers, and the kind of house that begs you to sit back and relax with a cocktail. While watching Hail, Caesar! , I recommend drinking a Red Scare Martini.

Red Scare Martini

1.5 oz Russian Vodka

1.5 oz Pomegranate Juice

.5 oz Cointreau

.5 oz Sweet Vermouth

.5 oz Lemon Juice

Lemon Twist

Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker over ice, and shake until chilled. Strain into a chilled martini glass, then garnish with a twist of lemon.

red-scare-martini

One of the true delights of watching this film is seeing Channing Tatum channel Gene Kelly in his musical dance number. I haven’t seen such joyous, athletic grace in a musical since, well, Kelly himself. Maybe Hail, Caesar! wasn’t the biggest box office success, but it felt like a special gift to fans like me. My message to Joel & Ethan Coen: you keep making your films, and I’ll keep championing them. Cheers!

Singin’ in the Rain

singing-in-the-rain

Image credit: Singin’ in the Rain, 1952

I don’t know about you, but I could really use some cheering up right now.  To that end, I’ll be watching the Gold Standard of movie musicals, Singin’ in the Rain (DVD/Download). From Gene Kelly’s athletic grace to Donald O’Connor’s acrobatic, gravity-defying moves, to cute little Debbie Reynold’s lighting fast tap dancing, this film is serious perfection. Add in a humorous plot about the transition from silent films to talkies and you’ve got a movie that keeps me smiling from start to finish.

I have to admit, I was never big on musicals until I saw Singin’ in the Rain. This one really changed how I viewed the genre. To watch Gene Kelly in motion is to watch a genius at work.  Even if this were a silent picture, I’d still enjoy watching it, if only for the dancing. And damn, Donald O’Connor, dancing up that wall- amazing!!! Actress Jean Hagen provides most of the comic relief as Lina Lamont, the silent film star with a voice that could strip paint. Her diction lessons result in a Lohan-esque accent that’s part British aristocracy, part Bronx, and 100% hilarious.

One of my favorite songs from the film is ‘Good Morning’, sung by Reynolds, Kelly, and O’Connor.  Bright and cheerful, this number is just a little ball of sunshine on a gloomy day. To that end, I’ve decided to set up a mimosa bar- because aren’t mimosas pretty much the best thing about mornings? While watching Singin’ in the Rain, I recommend drinking a Good Morning Mimosa.

Good Morning Mimosa

Sparkling wine or prosecco

Optional Add-ins:

-Orange Juice

-Cranberry Juice

-Pomegranate Juice

-Apple Cider

-Grapefruit Juice

-St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur

mimosa-bar

Gene Kelly made many other musicals with the famed Arthur Freed Unit at MGM, but none as timeless as this picture. I think the reason it endures is because its glee is simply contagious. Kelly spins and twirls his umbrella down a rainy street and he doesn’t care that he’s splashing around in cold puddles- he’s happy in the moment. Sometimes those moments are all too rare in our lives, but when they happen, it makes us want to hop up and yell “Gotta Dance!”  But remember folks- dignity. Always, dignity. Cheers!