TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALL GAME
1949, Park Circus/MGM, 93 min, USA, Dir: Busby Berkeley

This superbly crafted musical features an all-star team behind the camera - producer Arthur Freed, director Busby Berkeley and choreographer Stanley Donen - as well as in front. Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly are baseball players (and off-season vaudeville performers) in 1908 whose team is taken over by a woman (Esther Williams). Costars Jules Munshin and Betty Garrett hit home runs with numbers like “O'Brien to Ryan to Goldberg” and “It's Fate, Baby” (the two would soon join Sinatra and Kelly in ON THE TOWN).


THE YOUNG GIRLS OF ROCHEFORT
LES DEMOISELLES DE ROCHEFORT
1967, Janus Films, 120 min, France, Dir: Jacques Demy

Director Jacques Demy's love letter to American musicals, French cityscapes and romance in general is one of his greatest triumphs. The movie tells intersecting stories of a number of young dreamers - among them Catherine Deneuve, Francoise Dorleac and Danielle Darrieux - who continually miss meeting their ideal mates by mere city blocks - city blocks that are all authentic, as Demy matches realistic location shooting with sheer flights of musical fantasy. This odd but satisfying hybrid of dreams and reality is enhanced by Michel Legrand's score and Demy's typically precise color palette. With Gene Kelly and George Chakiris. In French with English subtitles.


XANADU
1980, Universal, 93 min, USA, Dir: Robert Greenwald

Grafting 1940s-style movie whimsy onto late-’70s Muzak to spawn a whole new hybrid - discokitsch - XANADU stars Olivia Newton-John as a muse sent to Earth to inspire directionless artist Michael Beck to open a roller-disco nightclub funded by aging, lonely moneybags Gene Kelly. With must-be-seen-to-be-believed roller skating sequences, animation by Don Bluth (AN AMERICAN TAIL), and a killer soundtrack featuring the No.1 hit "Magic," XANADU, a flop on its release, has morphed into such a beloved cult fave that it inspired a Tony Award-nominated Broadway musical.


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