June 17, 2008

This always looked as though it took place in eternity.

RIP, Cyd Charisse.


john said...

"She was a sickly girl who started dancing lessons to build up her strength after a bout with polio."

Thats amazing.

Unknown said...

Today we get Simon Cowell, and American Idol.


This, this is what we want.


Freeman Hunt said...

My son loves Gene Kelly. I just showed him this scene a couple days ago. Wonderful.

Ron said...

hmmm...I liked the "Party Girl" number you can see when this one ends, better...

My fav Cyd number is "Dancing in Dark", which I just put on my blog...

Mrs. Babbette Spinoli said...

Cyd was one of the few gals who could manage to dance with Gene Kelly well.

The problem with Kelly was that he was so athletic and tall, almost like a linebacker, that it became awkward for any partner of his to dance with him.

Astaire, was much more diminutive, and better-suited to partner dancing.

In fact, if you watch any of Gene Kelly's films, (especially the brilliant 'On The Town') you can see Kelly is at his best when he is dancing by himself.

But, Cyd was the one partner who could actually complement, and complete Kelly's dance moves and large build. They were incredible together, and I almost like them, as a couple, more so than Fred and Ginger !

rhhardin said...

You want opera, if you want a death tag.

Twice I remember asking my mother, `Why are operas always sad?' She tried no answer, but she was someone to whom I could direct such a perplexity. I would come to give myself various answers to the question - based on questions having to do, for example, with what occasions people to sing, and what plots best allow for such occasions, questions which I would later come to feel assumed the question, not answered it. I do not know that it is the most searching question one might ask of opera, but the most interesting directions for an answer I have been given to it come from another woman, Catherine Clément in her book _Opera, or the Undoing of Women_, published in 1979, translated into English some ten years later, when I came across it. Her answer is, in effect, that opera is about the death of women, and about the singing of women, and can be seen to be about the fact that women die because they sing.

Stanley Cavell A Pitch of Philosophy, p.132

Dance on the other hand leaves you wondering why the long fabric streamer doesn't tangle up in the guy.

vnjagvet said...

I always thought Kelly was short but muscular. He is listed as being 5' 7" on IMDB.

In Singin In The Rain, he looked to be no taller than Donald O'Connor who I know was shorter than Tony Curtis (I saw them together in a staged version of Some Like It Hot), who is no bigger than the 5'9" he is listed on IMDB.

My impression could be wrong, though.

In any event, Cyd Charisse was surely one of the three best Hollywood dancers ever and the only female in a league with Kelly and Astaire.

dick said...

I think she was one of the most beautiful women in Hollywood - ever.

She was just so graceful and dignified but there was something more there. Kind of the sexiness that Grace Kelly had as well.

Mr. Howard said...

leaves you wondering why the long fabric streamer doesn't tangle up in the guy.

For which see Hudsucker Proxy for Coen Bros. homage to this scene.

Cedarford said...

It is a great treat to go back to movies made before you were born and see a stunning performer.
The 1st time a saw a movie with a long Cyd Charisse number, I was enthralled, excited, and yes, turned on..
What beauty! What talent! She had a long life, a long 2nd marriage to an exciting man...and the world was her oyster, as it should be.

Good on her, and thanks for leaving behind a most wonderful gift that distant generations will also say "WOW!" or the equivalent to it, on seeing her.

The other commentors focus on Kelly and Astaire as the great male dancers. Maybe so for the ballroom. For sheer dazzling ability - I'll take the Douglas Brothers.

Suzie Nolen Bennett said...

"This always looked as though it took place in eternity."

This dance number did exactly that, according to the story of Brigadoon:


My heart, she hurts tonight, mama.


janemariemd said...

Thanks for the clip from the greatest movie musical of all time IMHO! Seriously, her scenes are tremendous--and everyone in this movie is terrific.

Gene Kelly wasn't that tall, at
5'7"; personally, I think Donald O'Connor maybe was his best partner ever! And every bit as good a dancer.

For another great dancer, check out Ann Miller doing "Too Darn Hot" in "Kiss Me Kate" sometime.

Methadras said...

Grace, class, and utter sophistication. Wow, I yearn for those days. What wonderful imagery.

Jim Hu said...

A beautiful scene, but I think it is better as art direction than choreography, especially in showing Charisse's strength as a dancer. Personally, I thought of her work in the Band Wagon, esp: Dancing in the Dark

Stephen said...

“Her name was Tula Ellice Finklea when she was born in Amarillo, Texas”….oh, no, with that name, those exotic features and obvious schooling in classical ballet she MUST have been French. She had legs up to here but she was only five-foot-six? It’s possible to know too much---next time you link, please caution NSFI (not safe for illusions).

amba said...

Oh no.

MadisonMan said...

I've always wondered at the technical aspect of that scene. The billowing miles-long scarf blowing back, but no one's hair moves, although you can see Kelly's pants flapping. There must have been quite a gale blowing, which makes the dancing all the more remarkable.

My favorite dancing scene in a movie is this one, from Kiss Me Kate.

kjbe said...

That scarf is the coolest prop. Wonderfully done.

bondc said...

Cyd Charisse died? How very sad. And I just watched Brigadoon the other day.

I believe Ann Miller is still alive.

bearbee said...

The craziest was Make 'em Laugh

MadisonMan said...

Ann Miller died in 2004 -- lung cancer.

Maxine Weiss said...

Gene Kelly was certainy taller in contrast to Fred Astaire's small-boned persona.

I could argue that Cyd Charisse was a better dancer than both Ann Miller and Ginger Rogers. Charisse had an intensity and seriousness that both Rogers and Miller lacked.

Both Ann Miller and Ginger Rogers remind me of flouncy cheerleaders in their movements. You are just waiting for them to pick up pom-poms. I do like Ginger Rogers, of course, and Ann Miller. Miller was dark and exotic. Wasn't she black Irish?....but she had still that "cheerleader" quality about her.

Charisse was so much more serious and passionate in her movements, and it fit better with Gene Kelly's muscular body.

Again, Rogers was good, but Cyd really set the standard that even today's modern dancers try to emulate, and she kept dancing even into her 50s...which was rare. (although, Miller did "Sugar Babies" in 1983 ???) But, Rogers retired from dance well before age 40.

Really inspiring, Cyd Charisse, and very underrated. Rogers tends to get all the attention....

George M. Spencer said...

Indescribably romantic Astaire/Charisse dance sequence from The Band Wagon

In her best movie "Silk Stockings, during the song "All of You," Astaire seduces her, and she transforms from an icy Stalinist prude into a capitalist love goddess. (Sadly, unavailable on Youtube.)

Devastating number with Gene Kelly in "Singin' in the Rain."

How she leaps into his arms at 2:10! Wow.

(Madison--That's just about my favorite scene, too. How does that guy leap out at 1:56 ?!? Bob Fosse is one of the dancers, and it looks like he choreographed the action.)