Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Cyd Charisse, Gone and Not Gone

Cyd Charisse, dead at 86.

Cyd Charisse wasn't the best female dancer. Nor was she the best actress or singer. But her combination of these talents was far above her peers in total. And, she had one thing that far exceeded all the rest: she was sexy as hell. Genuinely sexy.

In a film with Esther Williams she was the girl who lost out, at least at first. Tough choice for any red-blooded guy. (In those days, you couldn't have both.) With Fred Astaire, she showed how it was possible to combine elegant ballet-like dancing with supreme sensuality. Her Ninotchka in Silk Stockings made Greta Garbo look like a guy.

She was also something that is sadly missing from films and film stars today. She was a class act, professionally and personally. Yes, it's been lamented many times by many a commentator (usually over the age of 40). See 1000 films from the 1940s and 50s like I have and you'll be convinced, if that's possible or necessary.

Cyd Charisse may have died at 86 on Monday, June 16th. But her films will still be worth seeing a hundred years from now. Let's hope there are people still around then worthy of seeing them.

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