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Rancid Popcorn » George Chakiris

Posts tagged: George Chakiris

People I Wasn’t Expecting To See #3

I may have to rename this category “Hey look, it’s George Chakiris again!” I say this because

Hey look, it’s George Chakiris again!

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All the guys have matching greyed-up temples, but in George’s case it doesn’t stop him from looking like a 12 year old who drew on a moustache with mom’s mascara and slipped some baby powder onto his burns to imagine what it would be like to be all growed up. Is he ever going to be in trouble when mom and dad get home!

Again, this would be Oscar-winning leader of the Sharks George Chakiris:

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I suppose at this point I could just look up IMDB to see what other background dancer roles he had in fifties musicals, but I’m content to just keep stumbling upon them.

People I Wasn’t Expecting To See #1

So I was watching White Christmas for the first time the other day. Or at least the first time all the way through. Rosemary Clooney steps up to the plate to do a nightclub torch song, abetted by four male dancers:

And along they go, the dancers posing away in the sort of jazz-dancy way their black leotards would lead you to expect. And suddenly recognition dawns:

Holy crap, it’s George Chakiris! Seven years from immortality in his Oscar-winning turn as the fiery yet sensitive leader of the Sharks, Bernardo:

Since we’re here anyway, let’s talk about this scene for a minute. Rosemary’s character has just quit the show in Vermont, broken up her sister act with Vera-Ellen, landed this gig at an awfully swank New York club, got herself to New York, rehearsed with the sizeable band and the sexually ambiguous dancers, and the club got a poster made advertising her that couldn’t have existed before because she was previously in a sister act. This all happened, as near as I can tell, in about a day.

Look, I know it’s churlish to chastize a musical for being implausible. First of all, it’s a musical. It’s like giving water a stern talking to for being wet. But White Christmas is just awash in far-fetchitude. There’s good songs to be sure (and better dancing – made awkward by the fact that since neither Bing nor Danny Kaye are particular rug-cutters, all of Vera-Ellen’s dances have to be suddenly partnered by an anonymous cast member). And there’s some low-key charm, and Michael Curtiz’ always admirable direction. There’s also songs that seem like they belong in a different show altogether (“Count Your Blessings”) and songs that flat out suck (“What Can You Do With a General” – sheesh). I know there’s people that love it, but it’s adding up to a collective “meh” for me.

So anyway, Rosemary Clooney and George Chakiris. Who knew? You did? Well congratulations, Master of Musical Theater!

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