Movie Review: For Me and My Gal (1942) & 5 More Gene Kelly Musicals to See

In honor of Gene Kelly's birthday today, I wrote a piece for Netflix's DVD blog "In the Envelope," highlighting five musicals starring the Pittsburgh born and raised actor-dancer-singer-choreographer and filmmaker that classic movie fans will definitely want to see. 

Originally intended to chronicle "Six You Shouldn't Miss," the first film I included in the piece was unfortunately unavailable to rent via Netflix but it is currently airing on The Criterion Channel, so I'm posting it here along with a link back to the main article at Netflix's DVD.com so you can discover the rest. 


Buoyed by the confidence of MGM producer Arthur Freed and the support of his co-star turned mentor Judy Garland, as soon as Gene Kelly appears onscreen — all swagger and smiles — to flirt with the girls passing by, you barely need the train he just stepped off of to tell you that a new star has arrived.

Centered on the relationship between a cocksure vaudeville headliner (Kelly) and his partner (Garland), which is threatened by the arrival of World War I, director Busby Berkeley's bittersweet black-and-white musical boasts not only a breakthrough performance by newcomer Kelly but also one for veteran Garland, who was trying to transition out of kiddie musicals and into more grown-up fare.

A moving drama with very little humor as opposed to most of Kelly's other MGM work from the era, while surprisingly dark for a musical, the two actors rise exceptionally well to the challenges of the picture. And through the film's World War I backdrop, FOR ME AND MY GAL drives home the realities of the second world war in a very real way.

A meeting of minds and skill sets that inspired a close friendship between the two leads, while it's Garland whom Kelly credits with launching his career (as well as teaching him how to act for the camera instead of the stage), the actress used the opportunity of working with the talented choreographer to learn how to dance at a professional level.

The first feature starring Gene Kelly and Judy Garland, fortunately FOR ME AND MY GAL would not be the last. The two musical favorites reteamed in a handful of films from MGM cameo cavalcades ZIEGFELD'S FOLLIES and THOUSANDS CHEER to Vincente Minnelli's sensual swashbuckler THE PIRATE, right up through their final pairing in SUMMER STOCK.

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