Thursday, July 1, 2010
Happy Birthday: Leslie Caron
Leslie Caron was a ballet dancer when Gene Kelly discovered her and cast her to perform with him in the musical An American in Paris(1951), a role in which a pregnant Cyd Charisse was originally cast. A musical film inspired by the 1928 orchestral composition by George Gershwin. The film is set in Paris with dance numbers choreographed by Gene Kelly and set to Gershwin's music. Songs and music include "I Got Rhythm", "I'll Build A Stairway to Paradise", " 'S Wonderful", and "Our Love is Here to Stay". The climax of the film is "The American in Paris" ballet, a 16 minute dance featuring Kelly and Caron set to Gershwin's An American in Paris. The ballet alone cost more than $500,000.This led to a MGM contract in films, The Glass Slipper(1955), a musical film adaptation of Cinderella, and the drama Gaby (1956). A drama film and the third version of the play Waterloo Bridge, previously made into films in 1931 and 1940. It is the only version of the play made in color and the least faithful to it.
She also performed in the musicals Lili (1953), were Leslie, plays a naive French girl, whose emotional relationship with a carnival puppeteer is conducted through the medium of four puppets. She also performed in the classic film, Daddy Long Legs(1955), a musical comedy film set in France, New York City and the fictional college town of "Walston" in Massachusetts. Music and lyrics by Johnny Mercer. Loosely based on the novel Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster. It was one of Astaire's favorites, because the script is about the complications of a love affair between a young woman and a man thirty years her senior. Also, she performed in the film, Gigi (1958) with Louis Jourdan and Maurice Chevalier.
When she said to Fred Astaire that she wanted to create her own costumes for Daddy Long Legs (1955), he said, "OK, but no feathers, please". Astaire remembered one of Ginger Rogers costumes in a dance scene in Top Hat (1935). Some ostrich feathers came loose from Ginger Rogers' gown and floated around Astaire's face.