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Sunday, December 3, 2023

Cap and Gown List

Golly gee, Aggies, theres nothing like the old time cinema to make you long for the days of musical numbers, synchronized dance steps and dresses with more personality than Howard Stern. After a post-Passover, late night viewing of Easter Parade with my friend and her mom, I became painfully aware of a serious deficit in my viewing library: the classics, and classic musicals more specifically.

Between Wednesday and Sunday, I watched Easter Parade, Singin in the Rain, and Meet Me in St. Louis. I have been missing out. There is something so extravagantly theatrical about watching characters dressed in authentic outfits dancing about, breaking out into song, and truly owning the entire movie.

The continuous scenes make for commanding sequences of singing and dancing, and demonstrate the enormous talent of the actors and actresses. Each performer possessed such undeniable talent in so many areas. Judy Garland could belt out a tune with both clarity and subtlety, and nobody captured a girls heart like the singing, dancing, acting triple threat of Mr. Gene Kelly.

First, theres the tap dancing genius of Fred Astaire, able to play the drums with his feet during a number and move around the dance floor like no one has since. Then comes the enormously talented, and unfortunately tragic, Judy Garland with a talent that made her “the little girl with the big voice and a smile that illuminated the screen. Finally, I discovered the magic of Gene Kelly, Donald OConnor and Debbie Reynolds who made us all want to break out our slick, yellow raincoats and belt out tunes in the next hurricane.

While watching, I couldnt help but long for the days of epic love stories and movie lines like, “Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship. There is just something about these films… I really do think Gene Kelly is “happy again just “singin in the rain. The love stories are so pure, so theatrical, so classic, and so perfectly romantic. Though there is a certain quality found in modern day love stories like that of Harry and Sally or Juno and Paulie, they simply cant compare to Hannah Brown and Don Hewes or Scarlett OHara and Rhett Butler.

For those unconvinced by the romances and dance numbers, the outfits alone are reason enough to submit to a little old time cinema. Between the mens suits, rife with colors and ruffles, and the womens dresses accessorized with heels, hats and coats, there is always something to capture your attention.

For those who havent indulged in the genius of these cinema classics, I would recommend any of the aforementioned three with resounding endorsement, as well as any of these: The Sound of Music, Casablanca (a must-see), The Music Man, Mary Poppins and countless others. Granted, they may not have the technological advancements seen in more recent films, but maybe thats a good thing. I mean, when a studio can take a few Chihuahuas, that girl from Coyote Ugly, and some fabulous voiceover work by Drew Barrymore, George Lopez and others and turn them all into Beverly Hills Chihuahua, perhaps weve lost something cinematically over time.

Before you go out on a renting spree, let me first say that watching these films does require you to submit to a little bit of fantasy and overproduction (as is the case during a few of the later scenes in Singin in the Rain where my friend Michelle and I found ourselves slightly puzzled). Dont forget that the outfits may seem overdone and often extraordinarily glittery, while also utterly fabulous, and that a hat was just as much a fashion accessory as the present day handbag. Once you submit to the production, I think youll find you cant get enough of the good old days.


EMILY KAPLAN has decided that the next time it rains, shes going to buy a yellow raincoat and take to the streets. If you have any song requests that youd like to hear her belt out while she dances up Russell Boulevard (or if youd like to join her), e-mail her at eckaplan@ucdavis.edu.


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