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Brigadoon (1954) starring Gene Kelly, Van Johnson, Cyd Charisse

Brigadoon, like most Gene Kelly movies, is a musical with plenty of singing and dancing.  More than that, it is a movie with heart, and a strong message about the values that matter.  It begins with Tommy Albright (played well by Gene Kelly) and Jeff Douglas (played to the hilt by Van Johnson), Americans who are caught up in the rat race, and not loving it.  Tommy is engaged, but is not eager to marry her—partly to delay the wedding, he accompanies his best friend, Jeff, on a hunting trip to Scotland, where they become lost.

While wandering, they stumble across a small village namedBrigadoon, where the people seem stuck in the past (if you haven’t seen the movie, and don’t want to spoil any surprises, I recommend that you go watch it and not ready any further).

There is, indeed, more than meets the eye in Brigadoon.  One of the things that meets the eye, however is Fiona Campbell (played by the very talented Cyd Charisse), who’s sister is being married that evening.  Tommy/Gene Kelly misunderstands, thinking that she’s the one getting married, and although eventually the misunderstanding gets straightened out, there are still obstacles in the way of true love.  She will not, or cannot, leave Brigadoon.  Another star-crossed romance is that of Charlie Dalrymple, who is in love with the woman being married … to another man.  His broken heart leads to the traumatic climax of the movie, where everybody, apparently, loses.

The secret of Brigadoon is that it is a magical town that only appears one day every hundred years – but if any one of its’ inhabitants leave, the entire city—and all of its’ citizens—will disappear forever.  Which is what the heartbroken Charlie intends to do – unless he can be stopped before evening is over.  In one of the saddest moments in cinema, Jeff/Van Johnson unintentionally does so, and Brigadoon is saved.  Tommy/Gene Kelly, however, is unsure of himself and his love for Fiona/Cyd Charisse, and leaves … as Brigadoon disappears.

Back in America, Tommy/Gene Kelly is miserable, and Jeff/Van Johnson is on the verge of alcoholism, driven by the memory of what he did in Brigadoon.  Feeling that they have to resolve their open wounds, the pair travels back to Scotland, where the miracle of Brigadoon, powered by love, opens once more, and they return ‘home’.

Brigadoon is a wonderful musical, with plenty of singing and dancing, but is also a more ‘deep’ movie that you might expect.  It’s one of my favorite musicals, and I hope it will be one of yours as well.

Editorial review of Brigadoon, starring Gene Kelly, Van Johnson, Cyd Charisse, courtesy of Amazon.com

Amazon.com essential video – Brigadoon

Anything is possible in Brigadoon, the Lerner and Loewe musical put to celluloid in 1954 by director Vincente Minnelli: a village can reappear for only one day each century, and Gene Kelly can tap-dance on a dirt path. Kelly and Van Johnson play a pair of New Yorkers who go on a hunting vacation in the highlands of Scotland. But what Tommy Albright (Kelly) captures is the heart of a bonny Scottish lass, Fiona Campbell (Cyd Charisse). The catch: Fiona lives in Brigadoon, an enchanted town that appears for only one day every 100 years. If Tommy stays, he must give up everything (including his fiancé back home); if Fiona leaves with Tommy, Brigadoon will vanish into the highland mist, never to be seen again. Not that this keeps anyone from having a good time. The men are clad in vivid tartan kilts and leggings, and the women swish about in multicolored petticoats. Fiona’s sister Jean is getting married, and the whole town is drinking ale and singing cheery songs–except for Jean’s ex-beau, who threatens to leave and thereby end the town’s existence. Brigadoon is a charming escape into a sweet fairy tale. Some of the songs may be less than memorable, but Kelly’s choreography is often as witty as the banter. When the hectic pace of the modern world threatens to overtake you, consider a brief vacation in the highlands of Scotland. As one character says, “There must be an awful lot of folk searching for a Brigadoon”–even if it only lasts for a couple of hours. —Larisa Lomacky Moore

Product Description of Brigadoon

Gene Kelly Van Johnson and Cyd Charisse recapture the charm and beauty of the 18th-Century Scottish Highlands in this enchanting fantasy of music dance and romance. Year: 1954Running Time: 108 min.Format: DVD MOVIE Genre: MUSICALS/MUSICALS UPC: 012569672390

Songs from Brigadoon starring Gene Kelly, Cyd Charisse, Van Johnson

  1. “Once in the Highlands/Brigadoon/Down on MacConnachy Square” –Eddie Quillan, Villagers, and Offscreen M-G-M Chorus
  2. Waiting for My Dearie” – Cyd Charisse (dubbed by Carol Richards) and Dee Turnell (dubbed by Bonnie Murray)
  3. I’ll Go Home with Bonnie Jean” – Jimmy Thompson (dubbed by John Gustafson), Gene Kelly, Van Johnson and Chorus
  4. The Heather on the Hill” – Gene Kelly, Danced by Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse
  5. Almost Like Being in Love” – Sung and Danced by Gene Kelly
  6. “The Wedding Dance” – Danced by Jimmy Thompson and Virginia Bosler
  7. “The Chase” – Sung by men pursuing Hugh Laing
  8. The Heather on the Hill” – Danced by Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse
  9. “I’ll Go Home with Bonnie Jean” (reprise) – Sung offscreen by Jimmy Thompson, Carol Richards and Chorus
  10. “The Heather on the Hill” (reprise) – Sung offscreen by Jimmy Thompson, Carol Richards and Chorus
  11. “Waitin’ for My Dearie” (reprise) – Sung offscreen by Jimmy Thompson, Carol Richards and Chorus
  12. “Finale: Brigadoon” – M-G-M Chorus

Movie quotes from Brigadoon, starring Gene Kelly, Van Johnson, Cyd Charisse

Jeff Douglas (Van Johnson): Frank, put it on the bill.
Bartender: The bill, sir, is very high.
Jeff Douglas (Van Johnson): So am I!

[In a crowded bar]
Tommy Albright (Gene Kelly): It’s hot in here.
Jeff Douglas (Van Johnson): It’s not the heat, it’s the humanity.

Meg Brockie: I’m highly attracted to you. Why, when I look at you I feel wee tadpoles jumping in my spine.
Jeff Douglas (Van Johnson): That’s about as repulsive an idea as I’ve heard in years!

Jeff Douglas (Van Johnson): Can you think of one good reason why I, a strange man, should be interested in proposing to you, a mighty strange woman and at this hour of the day?
Meg Brockie: Because you’re a lad and I’m a lass!
Jeff Douglas (Van Johnson): Well, with that philosophy you must have had a provocative career!

Tommy Albright (Gene Kelly): [miserable] Why do you have to lose something, to find out what it really means?

Andrew Campbell: You’ll never find peace by hating, lad. It only shuts ye off more from the world. And this town is only a cursed place, if ye make it so. To the rest of us, ‘tis a blessed place!

Mr. Lundie: They were indeed horrible destructive women. I dinna suppose you have such women in your country?
Tommy Albright (Gene Kelly): Witches?
Jeff Douglas (Van Johnson): Oh we have ‘em. We pronounce it differently.

Jeff Douglas (Van Johnson): …There’s nothing a woman hates more than her fiancee’s best friend. He knows all the secrets she’s going to spend the rest of her life trying to find out.

Mr. Lundie: It’s the hardest thing in the world to give everything. Though it’s usually the only way to get everything.

Jeff Douglas (Van Johnson): You’re confused, aren’t you boy? If you believed as much as you thought you believed, you wouldn’t be confused.

[Tommy is concerned about Jeff’s drinking]
Tommy Albright (Gene Kelly): You told me you were going to ease up.
Jeff Douglas (Van Johnson): Yeah I know, but I’m a terrible liar.

Mr. Lundie: Anything is possible when you love someone. Even… miracles?

Jeff Douglas (Van Johnson): Well, most of my friends who have inferiority complexes are absolutely right. They’re not as good as everybody else!

Jeff Douglas (Van Johnson): If they want to disregard two hundred years of human bing-bang, that’s their privilege.

Jeff Douglas (Van Johnson): If there’s anything I hate… it’s you!

Charlie Chisholm Dalrymple: And may God bless me this evening as much as I would bless Him if I were He and He were Charles Dalrymple.


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