Salient. The Newspaper of Victoria University College. Vol. 19, No. 7. June 16, 1955
The producers of "Brigadon" made the amazing statement that they went to Scotland to find somewhere that looked like Scotland, but couldn't so retained to Hollywood. And it is painfully obvious that they remained there. Scotland doesn't come into the picture at all, unless it is in the form of tartans and phoney accents. The scenery is so obviously stage scenery, which of course some will say doesn't matter in a musical. But in this one it does. The producers want us to think it is natural. "Brigadoon's" decor fails because it is neither stylised nor natural it has neither the stylised charm of "Where's Charley" nor the natural simplicity of the better parts of "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers."
The director Vincente Minnelll, who incidentally was one of the Americans in a cinematically convincing Paris, seems to be ill at ease about the whole affair. He chooses a lightweight story that does not suit his talents, and makes it almost tedious by heavy treatment. His camera changes angles in a too sophisticated manner to capture the brilliance of at least two big production numbers. There is a chase through a forest, dramatically built up with musical commentary when the drama simply isn't there. Minnelli doesn't know his Scotland or people who live there. No amount of brilliance will cover up a lack of such a quality. It is significant that when Minnelll returns to New York we have the best part of the film.
Back to Broadway
I think that the whole cast would have been happier playing on Broadway than on the rough payements of a Scottish village square. Cyd Charhase is no Scottish less, and her partners in an elaborate female-chorus rentine are obvlously not her aisters. Van Johnson plays a cliche musical comedy type but la miscast. His brand of playing la for a more civilised world.
Gene Kelly seems bewildered both in his acting and choreography. Kelly certainly has charm, but his is the sort of charm that radiates in the company of tired artists and musicians (as in "An American in Paris") or tired film directors and writers (as in "Singin in the Rain")—An orange in a fried fish shop. There are rare moments of typical Kelly, such as the "Almost like being in love" sequence, but these seem a little forced. So are the dance sequences which he arranged. They lack simplicity and ruggedness. This is a case of "scots who did taps no longer do taps they do choreography. And "choreography" is a sophiticated expression.
"Brigadoon" is entertaining enough it has a bright musical score (carefully arranged so that there is not too much bagpipe moanings) and some good lyries. But as a production from Home of the best in the musical comedy world 1C is disappointing.