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The Immortal Gene Kelly

A couple of weeks ago, we watched An American In Paris as a family. Tonight the boys and I watched On The Town tonight. After it was over, Lucas, who is nine, said, “I want to see every movie Gene Kelly ever made!”

I told him that sometime this weekend, we would watch Singin’ In The Rain, which is Gene Kelly’s most famous movie.

“I think I’ve heard of that,” he said.

“Come see this,” I said, and showed him the clip above.

It dazzled him. Lucas said, “It’s hard to believe somebody like that died.” Which, after a second or two, I realized might be just about the best thing that anybody could say about Gene Kelly, or anybody: that you were so full of life that it seemed only right that you should live forever.

Look what I found just now. Gene Kelly, the quintessential American, was a Francophile who spoke French. Good man!:

UPDATE.2: Look what just came in the e-mail:

Dear Mr. Dreher,

A Google Alert this morning directed me to your lovely piece about my late husband Gene Kelly. I smiled when I read your son’s comment about Gene’s death.

I feel the same way. I am often on panels with filmmakers who say that young people don’t have any attention span and that you need to dumb things down – hype them up – in order to make them appealing to kids. I disagree completely and your son’s response to the films is a good example of why. Instead, I think you have to do what Gene did – make something of quality that is both contemporary and timeless.

By the way, Gene also spoke Yiddish and pretty fair Italian. He read Latin, wrote poetry and often read a book a day.

Good man is right!

Warm regards,

Patricia Kelly

Isn’t that marvelous? I can’t tell my children what to like, but what I can do is expose them to the greats, and hope that their imagination is captured. My son Lucas is athletically and musically inclined, so I’m not surprised that he is fascinated by Gene Kelly … but I am delighted. Thanks to Mrs. Kelly for this generous note. He read Latin and spoke Yiddish! Can you imagine? How great it would have been to have known him.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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