Sog.: dal musical omonimo (1947) di Alan Jay Lerner e Frederick Loewe; Scen.: Alan Jay Lerner; Mu.: Frederick Loewe; F.: Joseph Ruttenberg; Mo.: Albert Akst; Eff. Spec.: War- ren Newcombe; Scgf.: Cedric Gibbons, Preston Ames; Cost.: Irene Sharaff; Coreografie: Gene Kelly; Arrangiamenti: Conrad Salinger; Arrangiamenti vocali: Robert Tucker; Su.: Dr. Wesley C. Miller; Int.: Gene Kelly (Tommy Albright), Van Johnson (Jeff Douglas), Cyd Charisse (Fiona Campbell), Elaine Stewart (Jane Ashton), Barry Jones (Mr. Lundie), Hugh Laing (Harry Beaton), Albert Sharpe (Andrew Campbell), Virginia Bosler (Jean Campbell), Jimmy Thompson (Charlie Dalrymple), Dody Heath (Meg Brockie), Dee Turnell (Ann), Eddie Quil- lan (Sandy); Prod.: Arthur Freed per Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer 35mm. D.: 108’. Col.
Brigadoon charmed Broadway audiences in 1947, with its lovely Lerner and Loewe score, “different” Scottish locale, and colourful spectacle. Its story about two Americans who happen upon Brigadoon, a Highland village which magically comes to life for one day every 100 years, struck a chord in the post-war world, comparable with James Hilton’s pre-war vision of Shangri-La.
Minnelli’s first CinemaScope venture hit trouble right at the start. The original idea of Scottish location filming was dashed by bad weather; then Kelly’s notion of a sort of Scottish Western filmed near Big Sur bit the dust when budget cuts forced the project into the studio. The art department created an incredible set of glens, braes, a rushing stream, and whitewashed thatched cottages, with painted backdrops so realistic that birds reportedly flew in when the soundstage doors were open. Irene Sharaff’s imaginative costumes featured tartans and stylized shepherdess and milkmaid outfits. Live animals roamed the set, including long-haired Highland cattle.
The film was widely regarded as a disappointment (Minnelli recalled, “I felt frustrated by the picture … something was definitely missing”), and it has been much criticized for its hermetically-sealed studio look. But one must accept Minnelli’s stylized Scottish fantasy on its own terms rather than dream of what might have been. Irritations like characters posed like mannequins in tableaux vivants, or lines of dancers strung across the screen, are counterbalanced by magical moments: Brigadoon emerging from the mist; interiors like Flemish genre paintings; Kelly and Charisse’s “Heather on the Hill” pas de deux as their love blossoms; and the dramatic chase sequence, allegedly filmed in one set-up – all to the strains of Conrad Salinger’s lush orchestrations. A brief return to jangled, claustrophobic New York certainly makes our two Americans yearn for their Highlands idyll. And when Gene Kelly returns to the soundstage Brigadoon, to Cyd Charisse’s out- stretched arms, only the true cynic will have dry eyes: “If you love someone deeply enough, anything is possible.”
Catherine A. Surowiec