Why Blame Rio?

Article excerpt

WHY BLAME RIO? Joseph Andrew Casper. Stanley Donen. Filmmakers Series, No. 5 Metuchen, NJ: The Scarecrow Press, 1983.

Hollywood director Stanley Donen would seem to be important. He is the subject of Joseph Andrew Casper's latest book in the Scarecrow Press Filmmakers Series (No. 5, published in 1983), and he does have an impressive "Filmography," having specialized in musicals with Gene Kelly, such as On the Town (1949), Singin' in the Rain (1952), and It's Always Fair Weather (1955), and with Fred Astaire (Royal Wedding in 1951 and Funny Face in 1957). He directed Deep in My Heart in 1954 with Jose Ferrer (as Sigmund Romberg), Walter Pidgeon (as J. J. Schubert), Paul Henreid (as Florenz Ziegfeld) and an amazing supporting cast that included Merle Oberon, Helen Träubel, Cyd Charisse, Rosemary Clooney, Jane Powell, Ann Miller, Vic Damone, Howard Keel, Tony Martin, and the Kelly brothers, Gene and Fred, doing "I Love to Go Swimmin' with Women," the kind of vaudeville song-and-dance routine they had done together in Pittsburgh during the 1930s. Donen told Casper it was "a banal biography with a string of musical numbers that aren't very imaginative in general," though in fact they are great fun to watch. The picture was popular in 1954, and the reviews, Casper notes, were "fair to good." Seven Brides for Seven Brothers was Donen's bit hit in 1954, however, and one of the best musicals of the decade. Later came the Pyjama Game (1957, with Doris Day and John Raitt), Damn Yankees (1958, with Gwen Verdón) and Indiscreet (with Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman, also in 1958). …