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AN AMERICAN IN PARIS (Vincente Minnelli, USA 1951, 1.1.) Vincente Minnelli and Gene Kelly became world famous with this story of a US soldier (Gene Kelly) who stays in Paris after the Second World War, working as an artist and falling first for the charms of the city and then for those of a Frenchwoman (Leslie Caron). The production design by Cedric Gibbons and Preston Ames who re-created Paris entirely within the studio , George Gershwin's music, Gene Kelly's choreography and Vincente Minnelli's directing and use of color mean the film remains one of the most outstanding musicals ever made. It won six Oscars.

YOU WERE NEVER LOVELIER (William A. Seiter, USA 1942, 2. & 8.1.) The dancer Robert Davis (Fred Astaire) loses his money at the races in Buenos Aires. Hes forced to find a means of performing and earning money. His friend, the bandleader Xavier Cugat, manages to get him a gig at a wedding reception for the oldest daughter of the rich hotel owner Eduardo Acuña. Both the father and his second-oldest daughter Maria (Rita Hayworth), who is next up for marriage, are palpably cool towards him at first. This second and last successful Colombia cooperation between Fred Astaire and Rita Hayworth is an adaptation of the 1941 Argentinean production "Los martes, orquídeas"by Francisco Múgica. In contrast to the dancing partners' first filmYOULL NEVER GET RICH (1941), the war and military are nowhere to be seen. Hollywood looked to South America during the war when the important European film markets were no longer accessible. The Latin American rhythms of Xavier Cugat and his orchestra lend the film a unique exhilarating character that corresponds perfectly with Rita Hayworth's enthusiasm. And Fred Astaire proves that hes just as talented when it comes to Latin dance.

STORMY WEATHER (Andrew L. Stone, USA 1943, 2. & 17.1.) At a party thrown for African-American soldiers returning from WWI in 1918, the singer Selina Rogers (Lena Horne) discovers the dancing talents of the soldier Bill Williamson (Bill Robinson) and falls in love. Based on the life of Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, one of the most famous African-American entertainers of the first half of the 20th century, the plot spans 25 years, linking a succession of contemporary musical numbers. The black-and-white film boasted an all-African-American cast that featured many of the country's top dancers, singers and actors, including Fats Waller, Katherine Dunham, Cab Calloway and the Nicholas Brothers. The drive, the energy of the music and the dance numbers are enthralling. Fred Astaire later said that the "Jumping Jive" sequence was "the greatest movie musical number he had ever seen".

SWING TIME (George Stevens, USA 1936, 3. & 16.1.) The gambler and dancer John "Lucky" Garnett (Fred Astaire) has to raise 25,000 dollars to marry his fiancee Margaret to prove to his future father-in-law that he is worthy of her. He and his friend "Pop" Cardetti (Victor Moore) make their way to New York, where he soon encounters the dance teacher Penny (Ginger Rogers) and his motivation to make lots of money quick rapidly disappears. Ginger Rogers' favorite film and one of the highpoints of her collaboration with Fred Astaire was directed with assured elegance by George Stevens and featured an excellent supporting cast. Hermes Pan won an Oscar nomination for his choreography of "Bojangles of Harlem", an homage to the dancer Bill Robinson, in which Fred Astaire appears in blackface and dances with three of his own shadows - a scene that remains controversial.

SINGIN' IN THE RAIN (Stanley Donen, Gene Kelly, USA 1952, 3. & 11.1.) Hollywood 1927. While silent film diva Lina Lamont has trouble dealing with the transition to sound film due to her unflattering voice, it brings friends Don Lockwood and Cosmo Brown (Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor) entirely new career opportunities, with Don becoming a dance and singing star and Cosmo rising from being a simple pianist to head of the music department. This probably most famous of all film musicals is simultaneously an anthology of the genre. The dance numbers are frequently conceived as an homage to the milestones of the musical film. In her silent role as Gene Kelly's secret daydream in the form of a 20-year-old vamp with a Louise Brooks haircut, Cyd Charisse wrote film history in "Broadway Melody Ballet". "I like to dance, sings Gene Kelly. This musical communicates the meaning of this so totally that for the audience the hardest of cinema seats becomes a flying carpet." (Frieda Grafe)

MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS (Vincente Minnelli, USA 1944, 4.1.) Vincente Minnellis first masterpiece follows the Smith family through summer, autumn, winter and spring 1903/04, while St. Louis awaits the opening of the World Exhibition and 17-year-old daughter Esther (Judy Garland) falls in love with a neighborhood boy. When father Smith reveals to the family that he's been promoted and that they will soon be moving to New York, the enthusiasm at his surprise news is muted to say the least. With its heady color photography and successful blend of nostalgia and humorous distance, Minnelli's family film integrates the song and dance numbers into the plot in a manner entirely new for the time. The director and his leading actress Judy Garland got married after the shoot.

DAMES (Ray Enright, Busby Berkeley, USA 1934, 5. & 15.1.) The eccentric multi-millionaire Ezra Ounce (Hugh Herbert) is concerned about morality in the country and launches a campaign against forms of entertainment that seem to him to be too permissive. He has a particular pet hate against musicals which creates problems for his cousins who hope to inherit his fortune. Their daughter is starring in a revue produced by the black sheep of the family,  the show artist Jimmy (Dick Powell). "I Only Have Eyes for You" is one of Busby Berkeley's most famous numbers: All the showgirls wear masks of Ruby Keeler, who at the scene's climax appears in her own iris that the camera has zoomed in upon. The film was released shortly before the Production Code came into force and seems like a commentary on the era of moral guardians that was about to overshadow Hollywood. Out of self-censorship, one musical number was removed from the script in advance. The producer did not dare impose upon the Hays Office a scene in which Joan Blondell would have performed a number about a battle between a cat and a mouse ending with her inviting all to "come up and see my pussy sometime."

THE BARKLEYS OF BROADWAY (Charles Walters, USA 1949, 6. & 16.1.) The marriage of successful dancing partners Josh and Dinah Barkley (Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers) enters a crisis when Dinah decides to take on more serious, tragic roles under the encouragement of the playwright Jacques Pierre Barredout. To the annoyance of Josh, who sees both the professional and private partnership endangered, Barredout employs Dinah in the role of the young Sarah Bernhardt in his newest play. Judy Garland was originally cast to star in the film but was replaced by Ginger Rogers, who danced with erstwhile partner Fred Astaire again for the first time in 10 years. It was their first and only color film and Rogers' last performance in an MGM musical.

SILK STOCKINGS (Rouben Mamoulian, USA 1957, 7. & 18.1.) Soviet functionary Ninotchka Yoschenko (Cyd Charisse) is known for toeing the party line and is thus given the task of bringing composer Boroff back to Moscow, who has been being wooed by Hollywood. Having planned to use Boroff for his next film, producer Steve Canfield (Fred Astaire) attempts to prevent this and to convince Yoschenko of the merits of the Western lifestyle. Rouben Mamoulian's last film, a lavishly staged remake of Ernst Lubitsch's "Ninotchka" (1939) in Cinemascope, marks one of the late highpoints in Hollywood's golden age of the musical. Cyd Charisse's dance solo to the music of Cole Porter, in which she submits to the charms of the titular silk stockings and swaps her olive green functionary's dress for French lingerie, is one of the most erotic moments to be passed uncut by the censors of the time.

BRIGADOON (Vincente Minnelli, USA 1954, 9. & 12.1.) Two friends (Gene Kelly, Van Johnson) from New York get lost while walking in the Scottish Highlands and stumble upon the village of Brigadoon that they can't find on the map. Since 1754, the mysterious village has only appeared for one day every 100 years - a wish granted by god to a priest who wanted to protect it from being changed by the outside world. However, the charm only works so long as two rules are adhered to: Nobody can leave and strangers can only stay if they fall in love with someone from Brigadoon. The two friends remain in the village in an unforeseen manner because of the attractive villager Fiona Campbell (Cyd Charisse)Vincente Minnelli staged his allegory of fairytale musicals with imaginative costumes and brightly-colored, radiant sets. It was one of the first MGM Cinemascope productions.

COPACABANA (Alfred E. Green, USA 1947, 9. & 13.1.) is a musical starring Groucho Marx without his brothers Chico and Harpo for the first time and features Carmen Miranda in a rare main role. Groucho plays the artists' agent Lionel Q. Devereaux, who only represents one artist, the Brazilian Carmen Navarro - also his lover. His client, the nightclub owner Steve Cochran, orders two acts and therefore Carmen has to play two roles - she transforms herself into the French singer Mademoiselle Fifi by covering her face with a scarf. It all goes awry when Cochran starts courting her and cannot understand Devereaux's jealousy.

SUMMER STOCK (Charles Walters, USA 1950, 10. & 14.1.) Jane Falbury (Judy Garland) is the young owner of a farm that has run into financial difficulties. She receives an unannounced visit from her sister Abigail and a troupe of actors hoping to rehearse on the farm. At first Jane refuses outright but then she agrees on condition that the actors help her out. The mutual sympathy that has developed between Jane and Abigail's boyfriend, the director and dancer Joe Ross (Gene Kelly), helps the decision process. Charles Walters' cheerful and comical city -versus-country, artist-versus-farmer drama is one of Frieda Grafes 30 favorite films. It was the last film that Judy Garland made for MGM and includes one of her most famous numbers  - "Get Happy".

THE BAND WAGON (Vincente Minnelli, USA 1953, 10. & 17.1.) The aging star of Hollywood musicals Tony Hunter (Fred Astaire) hopes to revive his career with a new Broadway play but falls on the wrong director. The show is a flop. He tries to save the tour with the help of ballet star Gabrielle Gerard (Cyd Charisse), whose size and success intimidate him at first, and his friends Lester and Lily, who tailor the show to him. The ultimate musical, Minelli's ironic homage to show business, has one of the most spectacularly choreographed dance numbers of film history: Fred Astaire as the tough private detective and Cyd Charisse as a femme fatale in "The Girl Hunt", a parody of film noir. (hjf)

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