Afternoon Delight is a daily diversion for when you’re just back from lunch, but not quite ready to get back to work. Check back tomorrow at 1 p.m. for another one.
We continue Afternoon Delight’s special series of Great American Movie Musical Scenes this week with “Birth of the Blues” from the film, The Best Things in Life Are Free (1956). It’s hardly a great film because the life story of the Tin Pan Alley songwriting trio of Buddy DeSylva, Ray Henderson and Lew Brown proves (in this incarnation, at least) to be downright dull. But Gordon McRae’s big baritone singing is tremendous, Sheree North makes for a lithe and sexy Kitty Kane (who sang in many of the trio’s shows) and she’s partnered here with the incredible Jacques d’Amboise, who went on to fame as a dancer-choreographer with the New York City Ballet, especially in dances created for him by George Balanchine. The choreography is credited to the otherwise forgotten journeyman team of Rod Alexander and Bill Foster
The dancing doesn’t really start until after the two-minute mark, but it’s well worth the wait. Yes, the gender roles may be cliches (she fights against him only to melt at the first kiss), but the dancing has the kind of erotic-romantic quality Hollywood films rarely capture anymore. It almost seems explicit.