From MGM’s “The Merry Widow” (1952) Jack Cole’s beautifully calibrated waltz sequence pours forth. Minutes and minutes of on-screen dancing. Audiences apparently used to like this, I guess they don’t anymore.
Cole’s gigs at MGM were fewer then at Columbia or Fox (Kismet” twice: 1944, 1955, Les Girls 1957, Designing Woman 1957). The choreographer prevailed nonetheless in influencing this waltz sequence’s production design. The evidence is the pink light bathing the scene at 2:55. That’s pure Jack Cole — he visualized dance in colors. Cole would ramp up that pink 100 degrees on his next assignment.
Dance detectives will note that Cole marched, er, waltzed across town, from Culver City to Pico Blvd, and created “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend” at Fox in 1953. Smart dance maker, he built upon components (waltzing, tour jeté-ing women) from “The Merry Widow,” contemporizing them and adding Marilyn Monroe’s combustible va-va voom.
Result: this time, it all clicked. He created a timeless masterpiece.
Thank you Larry Billman, for the MGM-ania.
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