Gene Kelly Is Getting His Ballet In Come Hell Or High Water

A brief housekeeping note from earlier this week, just in case you missed it, about the Chatner’s commenting features and the direct reply function.

I’ve been re-watching Anchors Aweigh in five-to-ten-minute snatches for the last few weeks, after watching On The Town all at once and not realizing until the end I had meant to re-watch the other 1940s navy musical where Frank Sinatra played a stuttering virgin to Gene Kelly’s sex panther. It may interest you to know that one thing Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly, and I all have in common is “being 5’7,” with all the attendant professional and spiritual implications one might expect.

The baseline for 1940s naval musicals is already pretty odd, but even so, On The Town and Anchors Aweigh follow a particularly peculiar formula, one where Frank Sinatra plays a 28-year-old who looks 40 and acts 15, and is incapable of going outside without clinging to Gene Kelly. The songs in both adhere to roughly the same schedule:

Gene, Frank, naval company: Gee, We Sure Do Know What Sex Is

Frank only: Gee, I Sure Don’t Know What Sex Is After All

Gene and Frank: Gee, Don’t You Know Anything About What Sex Is? I Sure Do

A woman: I Have A Job, whereupon Gene Kelly falls in love with her, then

Gene, Frank, naval company: It’s The Navy Again

Add or subtract a cartoon mouse for variety, then stir.

It put me in mind of my single quibble with Gene Kelly, whose shit-eating grin was second to absolutely none, and who could absolutely get it yesterday, today, and tomorrow, assuming he’s interested in portly transsexuals (but I carry it well, Gene!) of his exact height: Once he reached the height of his powers, once he crossed the Seat/Asses/Getting-In threshold, nothing on God’s Irish earth was going to stop him from sticking a wordless, eleven-minute ballet sequence in the middle of an otherwise ballet-free musical. What’s more, that ballet sequence was going to silently re-enact the plot of the movie you were already watching, unless the movie you were already watching did not have Cyd Charisse in it yet, at which point the ballet sequence was going to silently re-enact the plot of the movie you were already watching, but this time asking the very important question, “What if the female lead in this movie were played by Cyd Charisse?” Gene Kelly was going to find the answer to that question, whether you liked it or not, and he was going to use the medium of ballet to do it.

They’re very expensive and, no doubt, crammed to the brim with absolutely top-notch balleteering, but I can’t stand them, and humbly request a ballet-free cut of the Gene Kelly 1950s archive. I’ll happily pretend to believe Frank Sinatra was afraid of sex in 1946, but all this business of hoisting Leslie Caron about in the fog is a bridge too far. Thanks for your consideration.