Brigadoon

Brigadoon is from 1954, and stars Gene Kelly, Van Johnson & Syd Charisse.

The film was directed by Vincente Minelli, who was married to Judy Garland and the father of Liza Minelli, who, by the way, was named for the Gershwin song Liza.

Minelli wanted to shoot the movie in Scotland but the weather and budget constraints killed that idea and the entire film was shot on sound stages in Hollywood.

Minelli started as a costume and set designer before becoming a director and that experience is obvious because the costumes & sets are amazing in this film.

His directorial debut was in 1943 with Cabin in the Sky, a film with an all-black cast. His other films include Meet Me In St Louis, Father of the Bride, An American in Paris & Gigi, which won him the Best Director Academy Award.

His last job as director was in 1976, directing his daughter Liza Minelli in A Matter of Time.

Gene Kelly was an actor, producer, writer, singer & dancer and starred in some of Hollywood’s most popular musicals. He was the choreographer for this film.

Kelly got his Hollywood start in 1940, when producer David O. Selznick signed him to his first movie contract after seeing him star on Broadway in Pal Joey.

Kelly had offers from other studios, but signed with Selznick mostly because Kelly didn’t want to have to do a screen test, and Selznick was the only one that didn’t insist on a test before signing him.

His most famous film was probably Singin' in the Rain from 1952. A foot note to Singin' in the Rain, while filming that famous rain scene, Kelly was sick & had a fever of 103.

His last movie musical was 1980s Xanadu, with Olivia Newton-John and one of his last projects was as dance consultant for Madonna's 1993 world tour.

Also in the cast of that Broadway production of Pal Joey in 1940 was Kelly’s co-star tonight, Van Johnson, who was Gene Kelly’s understudy in that show.
In 1942, Johnson had just started a 7-year contract with MGM when he was severely injured in a near-fatal car crash.

The studio wanted to replace him in the movie he was filming, but the two stars of the picture, Spencer Tracy & Irene Dunne, insisted that the studio work around his recovery or they would quit the film.

Because of the accident, Johnson had to have a metal plate put in his skull, which disqualified him for war service and his career took off as all the “big” stars went off to war.

His good looks and charm made him a heartthrob and he starred not only in musicals but also in comedies and lots & lots of war stories. Talking about the huge number of soldiers he played on film during WWII, he said, “By the end of the war, I'd been in every branch of the service, all at MGM studios.“

After his near-fatal crash, Johnson spent a month at the home of Keenan Wynn, recuperating from his injuries and while there, sparks flew between him and Wynn’s wife Eve.

Studio head Louis B. Mayer actually encouraged the relationship as a way to dispel rumors about Johnson's homosexuality. In 1947, only four hours after her divorce from Keenan Wynn was finalized, she married Van Johnson. The resulting publicity made him seem like a home wrecker and his movie career suffered.

He and Eve had a child together but, according to her son, Johnson later left Eve for her male tennis instructor, so the rumors were probably true. As his movie career faded in the late 50s and early 1960s, Johnson reinvented himself as a nightclub performer and musical stage star.

He worked well into the 1980s and died in 2008 at the age of 92.

Cyd Charisse, playing Fiona, was born Tula Ellice Finklea, and grew up in Amarillo, Texas. She was frail and sickly as a child and had a bout with polio, so her father encouraged her to take ballet lessons to build up her strength.

She got her nickname because her little brother couldn’t say “sister” and called her Sid. Her agent convinced her to change the spelling to C-Y-D because he thought S-I-D was too masculine.

In 1945 she was hired to dance with Fred Astaire in The Ziegfeld Follies, and that appearance got her a seven-year contract with MGM. She appeared in a number of musicals over the next few years, but it was Singin' in the Rain with Gene Kelly that made her a star.

Charisse lost out on two of MGM's biggest movie musical roles when she fell and injured her knee, which forced her out of the movie Easter Parade - she was replaced by Ann Miller.

And she had to give up the lead female role in An American in Paris due to pregnancy - Leslie Caron took over the part and became a star. Always a great dancer, she couldn’t sing very well and all of her songs tonight were dubbed.

Her 2nd husband Tony Martin said he could tell who she had been dancing with that day on an MGM set without asking. If she came home covered with bruises, it was the physically-demanding Gene Kelly; if not, it was the smooth and agile Fred Astaire.

She and Martin were married for 60 years and became a popular song-and-dance couple on TV and in nightclubs shows after their success in film.

Look for George Chakiris tonight as an uncredited dancer. He also appeared as one of the male dancers in White Christmas and was also one of the tuxedoed male dancers surrounding Marilyn Monroe for the Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend number in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

Seven years after this film, he would win a Golden Globe and the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor playing Bernardo in the film version of West Side Story.

And playing Mrs. McIntosh, who trades bread for potatoes with Fiona, is Madge Blake, whom you may remember as Aunt Harriet on TV’s Batman.

She got that role in Batman partly because the producers were nervous about how it would look having two young, unattached men like Bruce Wayne (Batman) and Dick Grayson (Robin) living together un-chaperoned.

And toward the end of the film, see if you can spot a young Stuart Whitman as a bar patron who speaks to Gene Kelly as he enters the bar.