Friday, January 6, 2012

It's Always Fair Weather.

I have five words for you:

Gene dances on roller skates.

Okay, so It's Always Fair Weather is a little bit more than that. :) I have been wanting to see this movie for a long time- ever since I first saw Gene Kelly in Singin' in the Rain. I have this goal of seeing all of his films. Also, I've heard a lot about it in musical documentaries, about how it's not your typical cheerful MGM musical.

And it's not.

Gene Kelly, Dan Dailey, and Michael Kidd star as three WWII G.I.s who decide, as the war is over and they return home, that in exactly 10 years they're going to meet again at the same bar in New York. Ten years later, they all keep their promise and meet, but things aren't like they used to be. Not only do they have nothing in common, but they don't even like each other.

{It was meant as a sort-of sequel to On the Town, but that didn't work out with returning stars, etc.}

One of them is a successful businessman whose wife is getting ready to divorce him. One is a happy husband and father who runs a burger joint in a small town. And one is a gambler and boxing manager (?) who never married because his girl broke up with him that night ten years ago.

Then, through a series of strange events, the guys are unwittingly drawn into a plot to feature their reunion on a TV show. Yes, you can imagine how awkwardly that works out.

Here's how I feel about this movie...The plot is interesting enough on paper, but not actually executed in a way that's super interesting to watch. The movie is definitely cynical. It's cynical about television (which was seen as a major threat to films at the time), advertisement, friendships, and maybe even musicals at times. And it has a much more "grown up," life-is-hard, sad feeling than your typical musical.

But I liked it. It was good. Different, but good. The end is amazing (though it gets there through an awkward fight- literally) and had me a little teary-eyed. :) And yes, the ending is hopeful, which as I mentioned here, is a trait of every single musical I've seen.

Several of the songs and dances didn't appeal to me at all. But there are a few good ones. The most obvious one is the best one in the entire film: Gene Kelly dancing on roller skates in I Like Myself. It is awesome, people. This is coming from the girl who used to get blisters on her thumbs from holding onto the wall while attending homeschool group skate days. Gene Kelly is awesome (I guess he knew that, too, because the stories about his ego are even more harsh than usual in the stories about this film). He may be one of the reasons I liked this film so much.

There's also a number by Dolores Gray, who plays a hilarious TV show host, called Thanks A Lot but No Thanks. It's sort of a weird, gold digger type song about a girl who will accept all of these extravagant gifts from guys but won't get involved with them because she's devoted to her one guy. It's a little odd, but I like it for some reason. :) I guess because of its ironic sense of humor.

Then there's Cyd Charisse's number: Baby, You Knock Me Out. It's also a little weird (I seem to be drawn to strange dance numbers, huh?), considering it's set in a boxing gym. But Cyd Charisse is lovely, as usual, dancing in her green outfit amongst all of these big, goofy guys.

So I really like It's Always Fair Weather. It's gloomy and a little strange at times. But, if you're a huge Gene Kelly fan like me, you'll enjoy it. Or if you're just a musical fan in general. Because this movie is sort of like a sad goodbye to the golden age of MGM musicals.

Until next time,


  1. Hi Kristin,

    This movie didn't do really well at the box office because it was so negative. I suppose that the audience was expecting to see some post war optimism rather than the cold war pessimism. I quite liked this movie because it's so different than the standard musical. I would think it would have more acceptance nowadays.

    I'm a Gene Kelly fan too and I think all his work in the movie is top shelf.....especially the roller skating number. I'm convinced he can do anything and he makes it look so easy.

    Cyd's number in the boxing ring is a lot of fun. She's fantastic. Rather than looking like chorus boys, the boxers look rough and rugged so it makes the number much more legit.

    The best for me is Dolores Gray's "Thanks a Lot" femme fatale number. Like the rest of the movie this routine goes against the grain of standard musical performances. The "girl meets boy" narrative is discarded and replaced with a "girl kills boys" theme. I'm curious about what a male audience would have thought of such an overt statement of female power way back then.

    It's too bad that Michael kidd's number and Gene and Cyd's duo were cut from the original release. Luckily they can be seen on the DVD. Those numbers are a real treat.

    My wife is a big fan of Jane Austen. I rather enjoy the movies myself.


  2. I really enjoy this movie, in part because of the risks it took with the musical format -- being "less than happy" if you will, I guess I'm trying to say. Anyways...I think it is an oft-overlooked gem, and I ADORE the roller skates number! :)


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