Please join me for All That Jack (Cole) at MoMA, opens Jan 20
When I first came to California and the movies, I was exploding with enthusiasm. I saw no reason why dancing and musical numbers need to be so pedestrian and unimaginative, so pretentious and dull, so enormous and hilariously stupid. After a little experience, I was astounded that they came off as well as they did.
These words from the brilliant but renegade film choreographer, Jack Cole (1911 – 1974), encapsulate twenty years of distinctive dance making at at Columbia Pictures, Twentieth Century-Fox, and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in Hollywood, circa 1941-1960. Known primarily as the genius behind “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) and “Put the Blame on Mame” from Gilda (1945), Cole went beyond his sparkling choreography with performance coaching, famously, for three post-war screen bombshells, Rita Hayworth, Betty Grable and Marilyn Monroe. Cole’s fine eye in sculpting dance for the camera, his interpolation of underground themes, many from gay culture, and his involvement with production elements of cinematography, set and costume design, and music arrangement—to the point of directing his own sequences—merit the label of auteur-choreographer. “All That Jack (Cole)” seeks to acknowledge Cole’s unique contributions to the Hollywood movie-musical canon and his pioneering efforts in the jazz-dance genre, paving the way for Bob Fosse and others. Through screenings, illustrated lectures and interviews, the 18-film retrospective offers a critical reappraisal of films in which splendid Jack Cole numbers, performed by his stellar dancers, are the vivid highlight.
All That Jack (Cole) at The Museum of Modern Art, January 20 – February 4, 2016. Participating talent includes: Barrie Chase, Wayne Cilento, Grover Dale, Carmen de Lavallade, Nicole Fosse, Glenn Loney, Rob Marshall, Mia Michaels. Tickets on sale starting January 9.
Please attend All That Jack, my talk on Cole, including still photography, film clips and interviews, January 23, repeated January 25 at 4 pm.