Movies I Need To See Before I Die: BRIGADOON (1954)

brigadoon poster

(This is a column where I review movies that I have never seen, but SHOULD have.  Being a film Geek, I have seen a ton of films.  But life is also very short, and for one reason or another, there are quite a few flicks that I have never got to.  Sure, it probably doesn’t matter if I ever see a movie like PARENTAL GUIDANCE, but a movie like LAWRENCE OF ARABIA…. well, I should have seen that already.  I’m a film geek for God’s sake!  I have now decided that I should get on that before I get too old.  I have compiled a list of films that I WANT or NEED to watch, and am going to start watching them when I have spare time.  So I will randomly be posting reviews of movies that I have always wanted or needed to see.  Enjoy!)

I just adore musicals.  Gene Kelly is definitely one of my favorites.  Since I’ve started this column, I’ve decided to try to see more of his films.  SINGIN IN THE RAIN is by far my favorite, in fact I consider it one of the 3 best films of all time.  I also like IT’S ALWAYS FAIR WEATHER, ANCHORS AWEIGH, LES GIRLS and ON THE TOWN.  I’ve never seen BRIGADOON, but always wanted to.  Well, I finally got my chance…

Kelly and Van Johnson play 2 Americans named Tommy and Jeff, who are on a hunting trip in Scotland.  Jeff is a realist and Tommy is a dreamer.  They get lost in the woods and come across a strange, old-fashioned village.  It turns out that this is a magical village that only appears once every hundred years (due to a curse).  The two visitors have a hard time believing this, but Tommy ends up having faith, especially when he falls for one of the town’s young ladies, Fiona (Cyd Charisse).  The twitterpated couple try to spend as much time as they can together before the town disappears for another hundred years.  But Tommy also has a choice.  Should he return to the states, or should he stay in the village.  But if he stays, he’ll never be able to see any of his friends and family again.

This is a charming little tale.  I always like these kind of lighthearted fantasy films.  And if that wasn’t enough, it’s a lavish MGM musical!  This is a gorgeous movie that has an warmly infectious vibe throughout.  The visual are absolutely gorgeous.  I’ve always loved the look of outdoor scenes back in this era.  They’re obviously shot in a studio, giving the movie an otherworldly and whimsical feel.  That’s always appealed to me.  The songs themselves aren’t all that memorable, but the dance numbers are breathtaking.  I can watch Gene Kelly dance for countless hours.  He truly was a master.  and Cyd Charisse is no slouch either, who probably has one of Hollywood’s greatest pair of legs in film history.  I love how their dance scenes were in place of the usual “getting to know you” chit-chat.  This is how they express their feelings for each other, and it’s full of passion and even a little sexy.

Kelly is his usual charming self here, but it’s his dancing, not his performance that is the highlight here.  Charisse is a fine romantic interest for him.  She’s absolutely radiant.  The rest of the supporting cast is full of likable, colorful characters that populate the village.  The only character I didn’t like was the second lead in the film, Van Johnson.  He’s such a Debbie Downer.  I understand that he was supposed to be the pessimist, but after about an hour of him complaining about how much he hated everything about this fantastical village, it began to grate on me.  These types of characters are often in movies, but they usually have a change of heart near the end.  That’s not the case here.  He’s pretty much a douchebag throughout the whole film.  There’s a moment in the movie when one of the town’s girls (and a super hot one at that) falls in love with him, but he treats her like a common cold.  What the fuck is this guy’s problem?!?  I thought maybe he’d change and end up liking the broad, but nope, he just wants to drink and be a bachelor.  It was hard to like this guy, and he kind of brought the movie down whenever he was on-screen.

And that’s too bad because the rest of the film is just delightful.  Vincente Minnelli directs the film with class.  It definitely has a dreamlike quality to it that is simply endearing.  The story is charming and the dancing is entrancing.  Apart from Johnson’s heartless character, this is a very enjoyable movie.  It’s a classic MGM musical!  I watched it with my 10-year-old daughter who was completely caught up with the legend of the story.  It definitely has a magical quality to it that is enticing.  I’m glad I finally saw it.                                      ★★★ (out of ★★★★)

– Not rated but contains one scene of violence.  It might be PG today (because the MPAA are a bunch of pussies)

– Running time: 1hr 48min.

Categories: Austin Kennedy, DVD/Blu-ray Reviews, Movies I Need To See Before I Die, Reviews

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