100 Awesome Things – Part 24

This is different to anything I've posted before…

It's Rita Hayworth dancing to the Bee Gees' "Stayin' Alive".

You read that right. Lovely Rita dancing to "Stayin' Alive".

I first saw it awhile back but Roger Ebert posted it (and another of Rita dancing to Belafonte's Jump In The Line) today again and I've watched it three times in a row. Just hypnotising.

A few things: whoever put this together has a lot of time. Just collecting the clips must've been a task and a half. Then to find the right bits to sync up… then to actually do it. It's amazing, incredible and terrifying.

I love the internet: it proves constantly that no matter how much of an obsessive fan I am, there's at least a dozen people even more so.

I love what a great reminder of Hayworth's brilliance it is. She wasn't a Cyd Charisse-league dancer (very few were), but she was full of vivacious energy. One can tell she's working hard without looking like she's working hard. And anyone who can keep up with Gene Kelly must be at bare minimum a Pretty Bloody Good Dancer.

I love how it shows she could do All-American (once she was whitewashed by the studio, naturally) Cute Girl stuff like Cover Girl and harder-edged (for musicals) like Pal Joey. I love how the song also pulls out even more of the raw sexuality from Miss Sadie Thompson. That's a very good film, by the way, and I recommend it to you all. Not a musical in the way you're probably thinking, though she sings and dances a bit.

Mostly what I love is that, a bit like the That's Entertainment!i movies, this one little video reminds me why I love the movies. Why I love those old musicals more than almost any other kind of movies (Valentino and Flynn's swashbucklers rate higher, but barely), and the undiluted joy and comfort they've provided me over the years, through some dark times. They were an escape for me, as for others before me, into a world where everything was beautiful, right triumphed over wrong by the end, where everyone was skilled in their arts. I knew then as I know now, that such a place exists only in movies.

In the 1930s, when sound was new, and in the 40s, musicals were spectacle and escape for people living through terrible, terrible times. Though there are notable variations, you more or less knew what you were getting with a musical. A nice love story, some comedy and fun, some great songs and some excellent dancing, and beautiful things on screen.

Singin' In The Rain is the best musical motion picture of all time because it does all of those things spectacularly well.

The genre worked itself to death, of course, like any successful genre will. The great practitioners retired or died and weren't replaced because the death of the Studio System (sucky though it was to say the least) also meant that the training grounds disappeared. You don't get many Triple Threats like Gene Kelly any more.

Mind you, I don't think there were many then, either… that kind of talent is always rare. That's probably why watching a clip like this is so enthralling.

I know a lot of people think I'm grumpy, that I'm over critical, that I'm hard to please and don't like anything. None of those things are exactly true, because I have stuff like this running in my head. That means my standards are higher than most people and things can meet, but it also means I have access to unparalleled wonders and all I have to do is dream.

PS: I also have a sekrit love of the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. Movie is dark as hell but brilliant for it. Soundtrack is the stuff one dances to in the living room at 2am. I apologise to no one.


Previously on 100 Awesome Things:

Part 23 – Philip Lynott – "Somebody Else's Dream   
Part 22 – Robert Plant & Alison Krauss – "Your Long Journey"
Part 21 – The Doors – "The Ghost Song"
Part 20 – The Rolling Stones – "Paint It, Black"
Part 19 – Big Mama Thornton – "Rock Me Baby"
Part 18 – Thin Lizzy – "The Boys Are Back In Town"
Part 17 – Nat King Cole – "Mr Cole Won't Rock and Roll"
Part 16 – Rory Gallagher – "A Million Miles Away"
Part 15 – The Shadows – "FBI"
Part 14 – Marilyn Monroe as Elsie Marina – "I Found A Dream
Part 13 – Kenneth Williams as Ramblin' Syd Rumpo – "The Ballad of the Woggler's Moulie"
Part 12 – Chas and Dave – "Rabbit"
Part 11 – The Beatles – "I'm Happy Just To Dance With You"
Part 10 – Duke Ellington – "The Mooche"
Part 9 – The Doors – "Who Do You Love?" featuring Albert King
Part 8 – Queen – "These Are The Days Of Our Lives"
Part 7 – Thin Lizzy – "Don't Believe A Word"
Part 6 – The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band – "Monster Mash"
Part 5 – Craig Ferguson – "Doctor Who Cold Opening"
Part 4 – The Bees – "Who Cares What The Question Is?"
Part 3 – Marvin Gaye – "Got To Give It Up"
Part 2 – The Dubliners – "Octopus Jig"
Part 1 – The Allman Brothers Band – "Statesboro Blues"

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