Thoughts on Gene:
Gene Kelly is one of my favorite choreographers and dancers, I love his style and how different it is – especially compared to his contemporaries. He always has so much charisma and great chemistry with his co-stars. I particularly like his collaborations with Frank Sinatra and Judy Garland.
TCM Movie Schedule:
- For Me and My Gal
- Les Girls
- The Happy Road
- The Three Musketeers
- The Pirate
- Singin’ in the Rain
- Summer Stock
- On the Town
- An American in Paris
- Take Me Out to the Ballgame
- Invitation to the Dance
Manuela (Judy Garland) is set to marry Don Pedro Vargas (Walter Slezak), the mayor of her small village. When she meets Serafin (Gene Kelly), a traveling actor, she starts to fall for him, much to her family’s dismay.
Just to get the obvious issue I have with this film out of the way, I really disliked that they cast white actors to play people from the Caribbean. Honestly, it doesn’t really matter to the story that much, so I wish they had altered the script a little to make it not be racist.
The colors and costumes in the film are great, it’s enjoyable to look at, though the sets feel very tacky and obviously are sets, which took me out of the film.
It was hard for me to want Manuela and Serafin to be together. In the first half of the film when they interact with each other, Serafin is super creepy. One of the first things he does to Manuela is hypnotizing her in front of an audience to spill her deepest and darkest secrets AND THEN forces a kiss on her.
As the film goes on, he continues to harass her, and it just doesn’t feel right when she starts falling in love with him. I probably would have enjoyed the film more if Serafin wasn’t such a stalker who kept going after Manuela, even after she told him over and over again that she wanted to be left alone.
That being said, Judy and Gene have great chemistry and seemed to be having a lot of fun filming this. I just wish their meet-cute had been a little more, well, cute instead of creepy.
The songs in the film disappointed me. They didn’t fit the vibes or themes of the movie and felt shoehorned in. Robert Alton and Gene Kelly’s choreography is a marvel to watch and combined with the beautiful costumes, the dance scenes distract enough from the poor songs.
The Pirate starts to drag near the middle, and the plot feels too thin to be stretched into an almost 2-hour long film. Since I wasn’t rooting for the main romantic relationship, it felt pointless, since there’s not really that much else going on in the film.
In the original script, Manuela had a friend (who was to be played by Lena Horne), which I think would have been an interesting addition to the story. It could have added some different kinds of interactions and scenarios other than just the parts with Manuela’s family and scenes with Serafin.
Judy Garland is the highlight of the film. It was a different kind of role for her and she did well. Her comedic skills were impressive, and she also did the romantic and dramatic scenes with ease. Her voice sounds great and she looked amazing in all of her costumes.
The film just feels all over the place and suffers as a musical by having such an unmemorable soundtrack. Kelly and Garland and the dance numbers are the only saving graces.
- Favorite Song: ‘Love of My Life’
- Favorite Scene: “Don’t Be a Witch, Manuela!”
- Favorite Character: Manuela Alva
- Kelly’s Performance: Despite the fact that I didn’t like his character, Kelly commits to the role and is really in his prime in the film. He embodies the roguish Serafin quite well and I’d give his performance a 3/5.
- Would I Recommend? If you like Gene Kelly and/or Judy Garland, then yes, but otherwise it’s nothing too special.
Audrey is a self-proclaimed film buff who loves to watch, read, and write about movies. Her passions include queer & feminist studies, watching obscure 80s/90s and Old Hollywood films, and discovering new music. She also writes for Scribe Magazine. Check out her podcast about actors who died young!