Sunday, September 18, 2011

Invitation to the Dance

Most animation fans are familiar with the sequence in Anchors Aweigh where Gene Kelly dances with Jerry, the mouse from Tom and Jerry cartoons. Fewer fans have seen Invitation to the Dance, a feature spearheaded by star Gene Kelly which consists entirely of three dance sequences. The last sequence is "Sinbad the Sailor" and features Kelly dancing with animated characters produced by Hanna Barbera while they were still at MGM.

The film will be showing on Turner Classic Movies early in the morning of Tuesday Sept. 20 at 12:15 a.m. Eastern Time. Or if you prefer, late Monday night. In any case, TCM only runs the film every few years, so you might want to catch it if you're interested.

Below is an excerpt from the animated sequence.


Rodney Baker said...

Wow. You are right. I've never heard of that movie! Very nice.

Pete Emslie said...

I've always liked "Invitation to the Dance", a film that I've had on VHS for many years. This animated Arabian sequence is one of a trilogy of stories, the other two being completely live-action. This segment with the serpent I think is quite brilliant and inventive in its stylized movement - the kind of thing drawn animation does best. I love the way her coils are used to cleverly simulate arms and legs.

The latter half of the Arabian story is less inspired, with the dancing of the harem girl and the two henchmen being too obviously rotoscoped and naturalistic in the way they move. I wish that the rotoscoping had been used only as a point of departure, and that their movement be more wildly stylized in the final animation like that of the serpent. Still a fun sequence, though, and the whole film is proof that Gene Kelly was trying to explore dancing in ever more inventive ways on-screen.

Yowp said...

I've got a newspaper clipping from the time of release which praises Fred Quimby, as if he had anything to do with it. Not a mention at all about Mike Lah's animation.

Anonymous said...

This film is available on DVD at Warner Archives. It is NOT great. Some fun stuff here and there, but a massive ego project for Gene Kelly.

Thad said...

I've never seen the whole film, only the clip embedded, but the animation here strikes me as having the same lifelessness as all of the non-Avery MGM animation had at the time. Clunky character design and dull movement = no fun.