Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Movie Music and More 32# : "Brigadoon" (1954)

I (Hamlette) used to listen to this soundtrack all the time as a teen.  In fact, I still have most of the songs memorized, even the minor ones.  I'd listen to this while I was doing schoolwork or writing, and hearing it always makes me think of my little corner in the basement where I had my desk, not far from the family computer, which was a 486 and played CDs!  (Does anyone here even know what a 486 is?)

(Why does this lobby card advertise "the joy of color!" and then feature a big black-and-white photo?)

Okay, anyway, this is the soundtrack for Brigadoon, a musical about a very unusual town in Scotland:  it only exists on earth once every hundred years.  Two American hunters, Tommy (Gene Kelly) and Jeff (Van Johnson), stumble into the town on that one day, and Gene's character quickly falls in love with a Brigadoon woman, Fiona (Cyd Charisse).  Most of the movie takes place during that one day they have together.

"Once in the Highlands" is a lovely, haunting song that tells you the basics of the story before the movie even begins.  I guess the show's writers audiences to have extra help wrapping their heads around this kind of odd story.  "And this is what happened... the strange thing that happened... to two weary hunters who lost their way..."  I like the use of chorus here because it ends up sounding sombre and eerie, and really setting the mood for the story.

"The Heather on the Hill" is the big romance number.  Tommy is fascinated by Fiona, mostly because she's not trying to get him to marry her, but also because she's quiet and intelligent and sincere.  He's got a girl back in America who is loud and bossy and wants to marry him, you see, and the contrast kind of hooks him.  So here, he asks if he can join her in gathering flowers.

After that song, they dance this dance, which I love, partly because it's very different from Gene Kelly's typical jaunty, peppy dancing.  Fiona hasn't told Tommy yet that Brigadoon is magical, and in the dance, she's trying to keep herself from liking him because she knows it can't last, but gradually she finds she can't help falling for him.  (Her dress has the weirdest neckline ever, though -- it's always bugged me.)

And after dancing together, she leaves, and he sings my favorite song from the whole movie, "Almost Like Being in Love."  And dances a much more typical dance, for him.  He says "almost," but we can all tell there's no "almost" about him being in love by this point.  I'm just going ahead and including the movie clip for this song, partly because I love watching Gene Kelly dance and partly because Van Johnson is so grumpy and fed up through the whole thing that he makes me chuckle.  But if you'd rather just listen to the music, you can do that too -- you don't *have* to watch it if you're not all that into musicals or whatever.

That's all for today!


  1. wow, I only just saw this movie for the first time a few weeks ago! It did have some nice musical numbers and Gene Kelly is awesome. :)

    1. What a coincidence!

      I really love Gene Kelly musicals. He can portray so many emotions through dance, and he so often looks like he's having great fun.


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