Besides Audrey Hepburn, Gene Kelly is my next style icon. With a style so sleek and with dancing abilities that rival only the legendary Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly is an icon in cinema history, period. I had my first exposure when he starred in Les Girls. At the time, I thought it was the greatest musical ever. I was sadly mistaken, because he as 5 musicals that are 10 times better. IF you doubt me, here’s 3 reasons why I think he is a legend:
1. Modern GQ.
His style defines GQ for the modern man. Athletic, yet casual. All-American, yet classy. For a man of considerable short stature (5’7”), Gene Kelly was an average man with an energetic touch. Kelly’s style was for the everyday wear, but still had attention to a dancer’s body. But first and foremost, his style was relatable unlike Fred Astaire‘s top hat and suits. The classic image of Kelly wearing black slacks and a black polo with a white collar in An American in Paris rivals Audrey Hepburn’s little black dress. The Gap would be jealous of the numerous polos and sweater vests he’s worn through the years.
2. The Craft
As a perfectionist, Gene Kelly spent hours practicing and thinking of new wild routines. His dance with Jerry the mouse in Anchors Aweigh. His precedent on-location shooting in New York. His solo dancing with a newspaper in Summer Stock. His jovial dance in the rain in Singin’ in the Rain. Another solo dance with his reflection in Covergirl. Too achievements to name. He also danced with the elite in musicals: Judy Garland, Cyd Charisse, Debbie Reynolds, Leslie Caron, Rita Hayworth. And also, he was long time companions with Frank Sinatra and Fred Astaire, proving his talent.
3. All-Time Favorite Musicals
- On the Town: Gene Kelly teams up with Frank Sinatra and Jules Verne as three sailors who find women in New York in a 24-hour span. Features “New York, New York” as the first on-location shooting.
- Covergirl: Kelly teams up with Rita Hayworth as she becomes the new rising star. Many of the dances belong to Hayworth, but Kelly slips a classic dance with his reflection.
- Anchors Aweigh: Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra team up again as sailors impressing women. Features Kelly dancing with an animated Jerry Mouse.
- An American in Paris: As the struggling artist in Paris, Kelly must woo the Parisian Leslie Caron. Features many classics, but none can top the 20 minute finale ballet.
- Singin in the Rain: As the iconic image of Kelly singing and dancing in the rain, the plot revolves around the transition of Hollywood from silents to talkies.
For the contemporary moviegoer, here’s a remix of Gene Kelly’s Singin in the Rain…with breakdancing.
And one of my favorite family guy episodes, Gene Kelly is given a tribute with his dance with Stewie. I was giddie when I first saw the video. It also has the original with Jerry and the new video with Stewie.
And finally, the dynamic duo says farewell.