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Hollywood's greatest dancer in four stand-out features. An American in Paris; Gene Kelly: Anatomy of a Dancer; On the Town; Singin' in the RainFormat: DVD MOVIE Genre: MUSICALS/MUSICALS UPC: 085392666027
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The Gene Kelly Collection is an unbeatable selection of DVDs showcasing the marvelous Gene Kelly, the Pittsburgh kid whose ballet shoes burst with muscle and ambition. Singin' in the Rain (1952) is everybody's favorite musical, a sarcastic spoof of the early days of talking pictures directed by Kelly and longtime collaborator Stanley Donen. (Ah, the joys of DVD: to be able to zap into the blissful title number or Donald O'Connor's "Make 'Em Laugh" at the touch of a button. Plus, the 2002 special edition is exceptional.) An American in Paris (1951), a dream project for Kelly and director Vincente Minnelli, is at its best in its glorious Gershwin numbers. Kelly's lengthy fantasy ballet, drenched in all the Technicolor MGM could muster, may have you thinking that this, after all, is why movies were invented.
Kelly and Donen forced MGM to let them shoot on location in New York for the exteriors of On the Town (1949), the movie that took musicals into the open air (and remained Kelly's favorite of his films). The spirited dancing and the wisecracking Comden-Green script make this an ebullient tale of three sailors on a 24-hour leave. The choreography plays multiple variations on the triangular team of Kelly, Jules Munshin, and a still-gawky Frank Sinatra. Finally, Gene Kelly: Anatomy of a Dancer (2002) is a terrific American Masters documentary, with oodles of superbly chosen (mint condition) film clips and interviews with many of Kelly's friends and colleagues. The emphasis is on how Kelly changed the image of the male dancer, complementing the aristocratic Fred Astaire with a more blue-collar, regular-Joe approach. It's an unblinking portrait, acknowledging the taskmaster behind the pearly grin. Those revelations make perfect sense when you see the astonishing dances: how could anyone this great not be a perfectionist? --Robert Horton
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