The Movie Waffler Minnelli May - Brigadoon (1954) | The Movie Waffler

Minnelli May - Brigadoon (1954)

Directed by: Vincente Minnelli
Starring: Gene Kelly, Cyd Charisse, Van Johnson, Barry Jones, Elaine Stewart

American tourists Kelly and Johnson stumble across the remote village of Brigadoon in the Scottish wilds, a place that only appears every hundred years. Falling for local girl Charisse, Kelly faces a choice, return to New York or disappear in time with the village.

There's a fabulous moment about three quarters of the way through this film when Kelly leaves the otherworldly hamlet of Brigadoon and returns to New York. Though the exact opposite is intended, this was for me the most magical moment of the movie. In my eyes, fifties New York is as much a place of fantasy as the title village and, given my non conservative leanings, one I'd much rather spend my life in. The short glimpse Minnelli gives us of this world is thrilling, like a technicolor "Sweet Smell Of Success", set in the sort of bar Roger O. Thornhill might have frequented.
Personally speaking, a place like Brigadoon is my idea of hell, full of religious zealots who scorn anyone who suggests there may be a better life beyond it's walls. I'm on the side of Johnson, a man of logic who just wants to get back to civilisation pronto. Is the promise of a roll in the heather with Charisse really worth being stuck in this narrow minded backwater?
Despite being released in 1954, this has more in common with the more bombastic musicals of the sixties, movies which were more concerned with squeezing as many extras into the frame than focusing on a dancer's ability. Kelly is too often mobbed by a pack of irritating bekilted Scotsmen when you wish they'd just clear off and let him do his thing. The movie pines for the intimacy of Minnelli's earlier musicals. "Almost like being in love" aside, the songs aren't particularly memorable and frequently employ a cheesy faux-Scots motif.
Ignoring those grumbles, Minnelli really gives life to the movie and it's far easier on the eyes than the ears. His trademark color is really to the fore here, like an explosion in a Skittles factory. The sets look great, and the swirling mists make you wish Minnelli had tried his hand at the horror genre. Vincente Minnelli's "Dracula"? Yes please, perhaps he could terrorise the inhabitants of Brigadoon.