book review, nonfiction

Gene Kelly by Clive Hirschhorn

I’m a big fan of Gene Kelly, and movies such as Anchors Aweigh, It’s Always Fair Weather and, of course, Singing in the Rain, are films that I watch repeatedly.

However, I know very little about the man behind the actor/singer/dancer/director/choreographer. It seems that no one does either, as he was a introvert who kept this true thoughts and feelings close to his chest.

There are few books on him. Clive Hirschhorn seems to be the only biographer who interviewed Kelly for his book.

Kelly comes across as a decent, intensely private man and I now have a better understanding of why people often found him difficult to work with.

His years of working hard to support his family and pay his way through college, combined with his competitive spirit, meant that he threw himself 110% into everything and had little time for those who didn’t take their work seriously.

This book gives a good overview of his life until the early 1980’s. Undoubtedly, the best part of the book concerns Kelly’s most famous movies, and I loved learning more about how they were made and the off screen politics.

It is always a pleasure to read the life of a person you admire and come away liking them even more. I’ve a greater appreciation of why Kelly is so good in his movies, making them enduring classics, as well as the contribution he made to dance and cinema as a whole.

From dancing with his reflection in Cover Girl, a cartoon mouse in Anchors Aweigh, to pioneering location shooting in On the Town, Kelly’s innovation pushed the boundaries and changed all movies, not just the musicals that made him famous.

This book made he realize that most of Kelly’s dance numbers, and certainly his most successful ones, were performed solo. As an introvert, it makes sense that he used dance to tell the story of interior struggles and emotions. I can understand that, and perhaps this is one reason his performances have always spoken to me so strongly. I certainly won’t look at a Kelly movie the same way again.

I award Gene Kelly

Gene Kelly is available on Amazon.

5 thoughts on “Gene Kelly by Clive Hirschhorn”

  1. I’m a fan of Gene Kelly’s too, and so glad to hear you liked him even more after reading this book. There’s always the fear that a biography will turn you against the person you admire. While I like him for being so private, I wish – for the sake of his fans – he hadn’t been!

    Liked by 1 person

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