Dancing on the Ceiling: Stanley Donen and His Movies

Stephen M. Silverman, Author, Audrey Hepburn, Introduction by Alfred A. Knopf $35 (0p) ISBN 978-0-679-41412-4
Readers won't learn much about film director Stanley Donen's private life here (former Broadway chorus boy, Jewish, born in South Carolina, five wives, a discreet love affair with Elizabeth Taylor) or his film technique (``blithe, seamless, effortless looking'' pretty much sums that up), but the book is a rich chronological catalogue of entertaining anecdotes about the movies themselves and the people who made them. The main reason to pick it up is Singin' in the Rain (1952), and Silverman (David Lean) makes the most of it, with many of the principals heard from: Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, Betty Comden, Adolph Green and Donen himself. Silverman calls the movie ``perfect,'' while Two for the Road (1967), with Audrey Hepburn, is Donen's ``best work.'' Other films include Royal Wedding (in which Fred Astaire indeed dances on the ceiling), Funny Face, Pajama Game, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and Charade. Among the names dropped--or heard from--are Cary Grant, Billy Wilder, Busby Berkeley, Frederic Raphael and Kay Thompson. The villain of the piece, for reasons not made clear, is Gene Kelly, and there are just enough hints to make one suspect that Donen, not yet 20 when he began directing, may well be a good deal more interesting than he appears here. Filmography; photos. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/29/1996
Release date: 02/01/1996
Genre: Nonfiction
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