Gene Kelly. Oh my, Gene Kelly. One handsome hunk of a man but with the grace, elegance and finely-honed physique that can only be achieved with hours of dance study. He does that swell but slightly gauche American ‘thing’ so well, doesn’t he? Sweeping Leslie Caron off her feet in An American in Paris, or the all-American Tommy Albright visiting Scotland on a hunting trip in Brigadoon. Brigadoon is probably his least popular film, released during the heyday of Hollywood musicals and transferred from a Broadway stage show, it somehow lacks the finesse of Singing in the Rain, or On the Town. This probably has a lot to do with the fact that it is largely set in the Scottish Highlands, but filmed entirely in a studio! Darling Gene never went roamin’ in any gloamin’!
Cyd Charisse, an expert dancer, was not so great at singing, so her songs are all dubbed, just another little niggle that makes the film feel a little ‘off’ to modern viewers. Added to this, the whole list of Scottish clichés that are shoehorned into the movie to create an olde worlde bonnie Scotland that never really existed. They could never make a film like Brigadoon these days, but I guess this is why I love the movie, it is a marvellous spectacle of the kind only ever made in the 1950s. Vincente Minnelli directed the film and he really knew how to capture beauty on film (just look at the way he recorded Judy Garland in Meet Me in St Louis, totally irresistible), so you know you are in for a visual treat.
Brigadoon is definitely a guilty pleasure, but it is worth seeking out because what it lacks in subtlety, it makes up for in riotous dance sequences, full of swirling kilts and kicking legs. I particularly love the clashing tartans and flashes of contrasting petticoats as the dancers high kick and twirl across the screen, it has me reaching for gorgeous vintage style circle dresses like our Way Out West Swing Dress in Bonny Blue Tartan. Picture this with one of our rockabilly style frothy petticoats in black or contrasting lilac. A retro-inspired dress that is just perfect for these cooler autumn days, made in the softest brushed cotton it is warm and comforting to wear without compromising on glamour. Wear with a petticoat for that iconic retro-inspired swing dress look, or wear without for a more subdued daywear look. I can’t high kick like Cyd Charisse, but I can emulate that delicious 50s pinup silhouette with this dress, and so can you!