Saturday, February 23, 2019

Director-Choreographer Stanley Donen Passes On at 94

The great director-choreographer Stanley Donen has died at the age of 94.

Donen, a key figure in movie musical history, directed and/or choreographed a great many wonderful films, including the movie I might call my all-time favorite, SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS (1954). (It's in a three way tie with MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS and THE SOUND OF MUSIC.) If you could bottle the pure joy SEVEN BRIDES has given me over the years you could make a fortune!

Donen's directing credits included three films codirected with Gene Kelly, ON THE TOWN (1949), the immortal SINGIN' IN THE RAIN (1952), and IT'S ALWAYS FAIR WEATHER (1955)...

...ROYAL WEDDING (1950) with Fred Astaire and Jane Powell...

...the charming, underrated GIVE A GIRL A BREAK (1953) with Debbie Reynolds, Bob Fosse, and Marge & Gower Champion...

...FUNNY FACE (1957) with Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn...the good feelings of "Bonjour, Paree!" have been part of my life since earliest childhood.

There's also the marvelous THE PAJAMA GAME (1957), with Doris Day and John Raitt, codirected with George Abbott...

...INDISCREET (1958) and CHARADE (1963), teaming Cary Grant with Ingrid Bergman and Audrey Hepburn, respectively...and quite a few more very enjoyable titles.

That's not even mentioning the memorable choreographic work he contributed to films such as COVER GIRL (1944), ANCHORS AWEIGH (1945), LIVING IN A BIG WAY (1947), THE KISSING BANDIT (1948), and even a dance sequence in a terrific episode of the TV series MOONLIGHTING, "Big Man on Mulberry Street" (1986).

Obituaries have been posted by Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, and The Los Angeles Times.

Donen's work contributed significantly to making me the classic film and musicals fan that I am today. I've read many tributes saying how much joy Donen's films gave viewers, and indeed, I keep reaching for that word myself as I write about him. I can't think of a better legacy.


Blogger barrylane said...

Just ran Charade. We all wanted to be like Cary Grant, but for the first time, I really appreciated Audrey. Big time.

8:28 PM  
Blogger mel said...

To my mind, one of the great directors. He may not have been a household name, but he directed some of my favorite films.

Thank you for your excellent post, Laura.

RIP Stanley Donen.

11:56 PM  
Blogger Seth said...

In memory of Stanley Donen, we watched ROYAL WEDDING for the extended family's regular Sunday Movie Night, and it was a big hit. My DVD also includes Robert Osborne's PRIVATE SCREENINGS interview with Donen, which was enjoyable.

11:20 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thank you all so much for your contributions to this remembrance of Stanley Donen. Barrylane, I have a definite yen to see CHARADE again, hopefully soon. (It's funny, I did not really appreciate Audrey for many years; among other things her voice bothered me. Fortunately with the passage of time I have come to admire her unique gifts!)

Mel, I agree, he really was one of the greats. His films added happiness to each of our lives.

Seth, that's wonderful you all watched ROYAL WEDDING and the PRIVATE SCREENINGS! A terrific tribute evening.

Best wishes,

9:30 PM  

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