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This biography of Gene Kelly comes from the American Masters series, and even by the high standard of that pedigree, it's an unusually fine portrait. The clips from Kelly's films are superbly chosen (and in sparkling condition), illustrating his low-to-the-ground dancing style and his sky-high choreographic ambitions. "Singin' in the Rain" is here, of course, but so is his lonely, lovely solo with a newspaper in Summer Stock and his double-exposure "Alter Ego" number from Cover Girl. The documentary is not fawning; testimony from collaborators such as Debbie Reynolds and André Previn leaves no doubt about his vanity and his perfectionism. The best of the interviewees is the actress Betsy Blair, Kelly's first wife, whose intelligence and frankness reflect well on him. A running theme is Kelly's masculine, blue-collar image, which allowed audiences to accept sailors and baseball players dancing with balletic precision. It's the precision of genius.

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WA37554 Gene Kelly: Anatomy of a Dancer DVD (2002 documentary) $19.98 $17.99