The Quiet Brilliance of Stanley Donen
Brilliance often goes unnoticed. We miss sight of it against the avalanche of banality that often fills our daily lives. True brilliance doesn't need to call attention to itself — it quietly continues beyond the jangly noise of each passing generation. It's there, silently lasting, until one day we turn and finally recognize the brilliance within something that has been there all along.
Against the cacophony of musicals emanating from a post-war Hollywood, Stanley Donen's work quietly stood out. A young dancer/choreographer Donen worked his way to helming major motion pictures, with Hollywood's top talent. Right out of the gate, the lasting brilliance of Donen's directorial work was evident. Set apart from anything else at the time, Donen's films often defined a generation, captured the essence of collective emotions and advanced an entire art form.
Donen's work spanned several remarkable eras within our collective film past. One of the last living links to the remarkable The Golden Age of Hollywood's musical extravaganzas, Donen not only created the 'definitive' musical of all time, he then developed new storytelling advances with his genre-bending sophistication and style.
From the early MGM musicals of On The Town (1949); Royal Wedding (1951); and the iconic image of Gene Kelly falling in love in Singing In the Rain (1952)!
The delicious celebration of love and fashion in Funny Face (1957).
The joyous blending of dance, music and baseball in Damn Yankees (1958).
The headlong relations of Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman with Indiscreet (1958).
The sophisticated blend of suspense, romance, who-dun-it, drama and comedy in Charade (1963).
And — a personal favorite — the lyrical meditation on marriage, metaphorically framed in Two for the Road (1967). The brilliance of this screenplay is music to my musician's ears as it continually opens me to the poetic possibilities of the written word for film.
Quiet. Timeless. Brilliant!
Godspeed Good Sir!