It's Gene Kelly's 100th birthday!
Gene Kelly could fuck your girlfriend. That, I think, is the key to Kelly - the sheer masculine, virile force of a guy who also danced like nobody else. Kelly's movements are so fluid, so natural, so beautiful, that they seem simple and easy. But they're unbelievably technical and tough and have proven to be just about impossible to match, even decades later. There has never been another screen dancer like Gene Kelly.
To put Kelly into the right context, consider this: Frank Sinatra was Gene's sidekick in a number of movies. Gene would fuck the girl that Frank was pining for, and then right at the end - maybe even the last reel! - they'd introduce some other girl for Frank to take home. Today we're still shaking off the idea that dancing is, in some way, queer or for girls, but Gene Kelly is proof that a good hoofer can be hetero and appeal to both genders.
Musicals are the highest form of movie making, I believe. At their best they're pure cinema - amazing phantasmagorias of action and spectacle and emotion, wrapped up into one package where each element is inseperable. A great musical will send you soaring and smiling and will engage every level of your humanity. The best of the best musicals are the ones where there's astonishing dancing, beautiful moves that thrill as much as any action scene. That's what Gene Kelly did best.
I don't know that On The Town is the best Gene Kelly movie, but on his 100th birthday I wanted to share it because it might be my favorite. A lot of that comes from my status as a native New Yorker, a lot of that comes from my love of the Kelly/Sinatra buddy movies, a lot of that comes from the lovely Ann Miller, and a lot of that comes the sheer exuberance of the film. It's no Singin' in the Rain, but On the Town is a delight from start to finish, and the shots of 1949 New York City are incredible.
By the way, I would totally let Gene Kelly fuck my girlfriend.