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Sunday, 19 August 2012

Marjorie Morningstar (1958) - Star of the month... Gene Kelly

'Marjorie Morningstar' is a 1958 melodrama directed by Irving Rapper and starring Gene Kelly, Natalie Wood, Claire Trevor, Everett Sloane, Martin Milner, Carolyn Jones, George Tobias, Martin Balsam, Ruta Lee & Ed Wynn. The film is based on the 1955 novel of the same name, by Herman Wouk.

'Marjorie Morningstar' is the fictional coming of age story of Marjorie Morgenstern (played by Wood), a young Jewish girl living in New York City in the 1950s. She has just broken up with her boyfriend, whom her parents approve of and takes up a job at a summer camp. Whilst working at the camp, she meets playwright Noel Airman (played by Kelly).  Marjorie falls in love with Noel, whom her parents don't approve of.

Musical program

Although not a musical, we are lucky to hear Gene Kelly sing a song in the film, 'A Very Precious Love'.

Song: "A Very Precious Love" - Gene Kelly

Did you know...

  • Jennifer Jones was considered for the role of Marjorie Morgenstern
  • Paul Newman was initially offered the role of Noel Airman
  • Shelley Fabares appears uncredited as Seth's Girlfriend
  • Natalie Wood's sister Lana Wood appears uncredited 
  • This film was one of the first times the Jewish religion was overtly portrayed in film since 'The Jazz Singer' (1927) - during the film there is a Passover meal and a scene in a synagogue

Closing remarks

'Marjorie Morningstar' explores themes such as rebelling against traditional family values and religious behaviour.  An interesting story, though the film runs far too long and tends to get slow at times. Although I am a big fan of Gene Kelly, I think he was too old (47 years old) to play Noel Airman, especially as Natalie Wood was only 20 years old. That said, 'Marjorie Morningstar' gives Gene Kelly an opportunity to prove he could act in a rare dramatic role.

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