Posts tagged: Rosemary Clooney

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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