Tuesday, June 17, 2008

R.I.P. CYD CHARISSE. I just this minute learned that Cyd Charisse has died at the age of 86. Coming on top of an already REALLY bad day, I find my thoughts going to my favourite Cyd Charisse moment. This occurred in that classic MGM musical "THE BAND WAGON" in which she danced with Fred Astaire in the park to the song "Dancing in the Dark". There isn't really anything more romantic than that. All through the movie, Fred & Cyd's character's couldn't stand each other through mutual misunderstanding. However, during a walk in the park where they are trying to get to know one another, they at first tentatively then spectacularly fall into one of the most superb dance routines in all of cinema. And nobody looked more beautiful in that simply but flowing white dress.
Fast forward a couple decades to the classic years of SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE. The dance was so memorable that Gilda Radner and Steve Martin redid it (albeit comically) on the show. The same song. Gilda was wearing the same dress. While the moment was very funny, it was also strangely touching. And all these years it remains probably my favourite Gilda Radner moment. The "lump in the throat" factor came years later when Gilda died. At the time, coincidentally, Steve Martin happened to be hosting SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE. He walked out to the camera and announced the news of Gilda's death. And what did they play? That dance routine between Gilda and Steve Martin. That's how powerful it was and that's how memorable the original scene with Cyd Charisse and Fred Astaire is. Rest in peace, dear lady. We're going to miss you.


Weaverman said...

Cyd Charisse was a great beauty and a fantastic dancer. Do you remember the number she did at the start of THE SILENCERS (Although I believe that the singing voice was provided by somebody else)? Despite the fact that we didn't see much of SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE over here and Gilda was unknown to the great unwashed I did actually see the routine you wrote about and I suspect it may have been shown at the time of Gilda's death.

Cerpts said...

Oh yes. Thanks to Paleocinema, I picked up the box set of Matt Helm movies last year. You are quite right, Cyd's singing voice was dubbed by Vikki Carr of the title song.