Viva Knievel

  • Directors: Gordon Douglas
  • Producers: Stanley Hough
  • Writers: Norman Katkov
  • Genres: Action, Adventure, Biography, Comedy, Crime, Drama
  • Actors: Evel Knievel, Gene Kelly, Lauren Hutton, Red Buttons, Leslie Nielsen, Cameron Mitchell, Frank Gifford, Dabney Coleman, Marjoe Gortner

Daredevil motorcycle rider Evel Knievel stars as himself in this fictional story. The film opens with Knievel sneaking into an orphanage late at night to deliver presents: Evel Knievel action figures. One of the boys casts away his crutches, telling Knievel that if he could walk after his crashes, then he (the boy) can, too.

Knievel then prepares for another of his stunt jumps. We are introduced to his alcoholic mechanic Wil Atkins (Gene Kelly), who was a former stunt rider himself before his wife died, driving him to drink. While signing autographs, Knievel is ambushed by feminist photojournalist Kate Morgan (Lauren Hutton), who has been sent to photograph the jump: if Knievel is killed, it will be a great story.

As it happens, Evel does crash while attempting the stunt (shown using footage from one of Knievel’s real jumps), and though badly injured, survives. He berates Morgan, announces his retirement, and is taken to the hospital.

While rehabilitating, Knievel resists all attempts to get back on the horse, including those from Jessie (Marjoe Gortner), a former protegé with mysterious backers who want Evel to do a jump in Mexico. Eventually, though, Knievel relents and agrees.

A subplot develops when Will’s estranged son Tommy shows up from boarding school, and asks to join the tour. Will, who is reminded of his dead wife, is cold to Tommy, leaving Knievel to show the boy kindness. Likewise, Kate reappears, apologetic for her previous motives, and now wishes that he will never stop jumping.

The end jump is stopped in a freeze-frame shot and a color matte, similar to that of the one that appears in the opening credits, appears over Evel in mid-air. The song that plays over the opening credits also plays over the film’s end credits.

An American in Paris

  • Directors: Vincente Minnelli
  • Producers: Arthur Freed
  • Writers: Alan Jay Lerner
  • Genres: Musical, Romance
  • Actors: Gene Kelly, Leslie Caron, Oscar Levant, Nina Foch

Jerry Mulligan (Gene Kelly) is an exuberant American expatriate in Paris trying to make a reputation as a painter. His friend Adam (Oscar Levant) is a struggling concert pianist who is a long time associate of a French singer, Henri Baurel (Georges Guétary). A lonely society woman, Milo Roberts (Nina Foch) takes Jerry under her wing and supports him, but is interested in more than his art. Jerry remains oblivious to her feelings, and falls in love with Lise (Leslie Caron), a French girl he meets at a restaurant. Lise loves him as well, but she is already in a relationship with Henri, whom she feels indebted to for having saved her family during World War II.

At a raucous masked ball, with everyone in black-and-white costumes, Milo learns that Jerry is not interested in her, Jerry learns that Lise is in love with him, but is marrying Henri the next day, and Henri overhears their conversation. When Henri drives Lise away, Jerry daydreams about being with her all over Paris, his reverie broken by a car horn, the sound of Henri bringing Lise back to him.

On the Town

  • Directors: Gene Kelly, Stanley Donen
  • Producers: Arthur Freed, Roger Edens
  • Writers: Jerome Robbins, Betty Comden, Adolph Green
  • Genres: Comedy, Musical, Romance
  • Actors: Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Betty Garrett, Ann Miller, Jules Munshin, Vera Ellen

As three sailors – Gabey (Gene Kelly), Chip (Frank Sinatra), and Ozzie (Jules Munshin) – begin their shore leave, Gabey falls in love with the picture of “Miss Turnstiles”, who is actually Ivy Smith (Vera-Ellen). The sailors race around New York attempting to find her in the brief period they have (“New York, New York”).

They are assisted by, and become romantically involved with, two women, and pair up: Ozzie with Claire (Ann Miller), an anthropologist; and Chip with Hildy Esterhazy (Betty Garrett), an aggressively amorous taxi driver; and eventually, Gabey with Ivy, an aspiring actress. Hildy invites Chip to “Come Up to My Place”. Claire claims that she’s found her passionate “Prehistoric Man” in Ozzie at the Museum of Natural History. Gabey takes Ivy on an imaginary date down “Mainstreet” in a studio in Carnegie Hall. Later, Chip sincerely falls for Hildy telling her “You’re Awful”–awful nice to be with. That evening, all the couples meet at the top of the Empire State Building to celebrate a night “On the Town”.

But when Ivy must leave early to work as a cooch dancer, the friends tell a despondent Gabey, “You Can Count on Me”, joined by Hildy’s hilarious roommate, Lucy Schmeeler (Alice Pearce). They have a number of adventures reuniting with Ivy at Coney Island before their 24-hour leave ends and they must return to their ship to head off to sea. Although their future is uncertain, the boys and girls share one last kiss on the pier as a new crew of sailors heads out into the city for their leave (“New York, New York reprise”).

Singin in the Rain

  • Directors: Gene Kelly, Stanley Donen
  • Producers: Arthur Freed
  • Writers: Betty Comden, Adolph Green
  • Genres: Comedy, Musical, Romance
  • Actors: Gene Kelly, Donald O Connor, Debbie Reynolds, Jean Hagen

Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) is a popular silent film star with humble roots as a singer, dancer, and stunt man. Don barely tolerates his vapid, shallow leading lady, Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen).

One day, to escape from overenthusiastic fans, Don jumps into a passing car driven by Kathy Selden (Debbie Reynolds). She drops him off, but not before claiming to be a stage actress and sneering at his undignified accomplishments. Later, at a party, the head of Don’s studio, R.F. Simpson (Millard Mitchell), shows a short demonstration of a talking picture, but his guests are unimpressed. Don runs into Kathy again at the party. To his amusement and her embarrassment, he discovers that Kathy is only a chorus girl, part of the entertainment. Furious, she throws a cake at him, only to hit Lina right in the face. Later, Don makes up with Kathy and they begin falling in love.

After a rival studio releases its first talking picture, The Jazz Singer, and it proves to be a smash hit, R.F. decides he has no choice but to convert the new Lockwood and Lamont film, The Dueling Cavalier, into a talkie. The production is beset with difficulties (most, if not all, taken from real life[citation needed]), by far the worst being Lina’s comically grating voice. A test screening is a disaster. In one scene, for instance, Don repeats “I love you” to Lina over and over, to the audience’s derisive laughter (a reference to a scene by John Gilbert in his first talkie[2]).

The premiere of The Dancing Cavalier is a tremendous success. When the audience clamors for Lina to sing live, Don, Cosmo, and R.F. improvise and get Lina to lip-synch while Kathy sings into a second microphone while hidden behind the stage’s curtain. Later, while Lina is “singing,” Don, Cosmo and R.F. gleefully open the stage curtain behind her, revealing the deception — Lina then flees in embarrassment. When Kathy tries to run away as well, Don stops her and introduces the audience to “the real star of the film.”