Balmy Indian-summer weather added pleasure to the late-October opening weekend of “To Save and Project,” The Museum of Modern Art‘s annual film-preservation festival whose tasty programming included a tribute to Oscar-winning actor-dancer-singer George Chakiris. In “George Chakiris: A Life in Film,” a wide-ranging interview that could not begin to encapsulate his decades of activity in film, theater, nightclub and television, Chakiris shared crackerjack memories and his kind and modest personality.
Vintage television variety-show clips from the Garry Moore Show, Dinah Shore Show and Andy Williams Show peppered the conversation. The event also featured clips of the song-and-dance man in “Night and Day” and “Begin the Beguine” in “CBS ‘Ford Star Jubilee: You’re the Top, A Salute to Cole Porter,’” which aired October 6, 1956. Ramping up the emotion was Chakiris partnering Anna Maria Alberghetti in a full-throttled rendition of “Stranger in Paradise” from a 1967 television broadcast of “Kismet.”
Following the interview came a proud moment for Chakiris: a screening of a movie made in Italy fifty years ago, “La Ragazza di Bube” (“Bebo’s Girl” 1964), a beautiful film in which he co-stars with Claudia Cardinale. The ‘romantic neo-realist’ movie is well known in Europe (the French consider it a classic), but has virtually gone missing in the U.S. Till now. MoMA has effectively resurfaced “Bebo.” Bravo!
MoMA adjunct curator Dave Kehr
arranged the visit and screening along with MoMA film curator Josh Siegel
who for twelve years has overseen the festival. Sophie Cavoulacos
provided the visit with able logistical support.
In a beautiful mash-up of dance genres, attending the interview was the artistic director of the Martha Graham Dance Company, Janet Eilber, herself a great dancer, although retired. Can Eilber’s presence be interpreted as a squelched desire to kick it as Anita in “West Side Story”? She and Chakiris look well suited!
Photo credit: Will Ragozzino/scottruddevents.com, courtesy The Museum of Modern Art, New York