Gene Kelly @ 100

The everyman dancer astonishes again

Details

'Invitation to the Dance: Gene Kelly @ 100'
July 13 through 26
Walter Reade Theater

During Hollywood's sporadic, often disastrous attempts to revive the glory years of tuners, Kelly was still called upon on occasion: to direct the elephantine 1969 adaptation of Hello, Dolly!—accurately assessing the movie's biggest liability, Walter Matthau, quoted in Hirschhorn, said of his co-star, "The trouble with Barbra [Streisand] is she became a star long before she became an actress"—or to class up the roller-boogie fantasia Xanadu (1980), his last feature-film appearance. (Kelly died in 1996 at age 83.) But the greatest use of Kelly's talents after MGM's halcyon era took place thousands of miles away from Southern California backlots in a port town in southwestern France. In Jacques Demy's transcendent American-musical homage The Young Girls of Rochefort (1967), Kelly, still foxy in his mid fifties in a pink polo shirt and snug, pressed white trousers, appears to descend from heaven, believably stirring romantic yearning in Françoise Dorléac, an actress 30 years his junior. He still likes himself, and we love him for it.

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