Brigadoon (1954)

brigadoon poster 1954 movie musical
6.5 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Acting: 6/10
Visuals: 7/10

Decent cast

Ho-hum musical that wastes its cast

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Brigadoon

Studio:  MGM

Genre(s):  Musical/Drama/Romance/Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Release Date(s):  September 8, 1954

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

brigadoon scotland town painting

Brigadoon is as pretty as a picture…because it is one

Travelling to Scotland on a hunting trip, Tommy Albright (Gene Kelly) and his friend Jeff Douglas (Van Johnson) get lost and come upon a strange, little town named Brigadoon.  The people of Brigadoon seem to be out of another time, but Tommy quickly falls for Fiona Campbell (Cyd Charisse).  Tommy and Jeff learn the truth of Brigadoon:  every night the people of Brigadoon fall asleep, the city disappears, and one hundred years later the town reappears unchanged.  Now, Tommy must decide if he can give it all up to be with Fiona before the city fades away again.

Directed by Vincente Minnelli, Brigadoon is based on the 1947 Broadway musical.  The movie was released to mixed reviews and lost money at the box office.  The film was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Art Direction/Set Decoration—Color, Best Costume Design—Color, and Best Sound.

Being part Scottish, I suppose that I should be interested in Brigadoon…but I’ve never been.  Having finally watched Brigadoon, I can see the problems with the movie and the musical…from its core to its presentation.

brigadoon harry charlie hugh laing jimmy thompson

Dammit, Harry! We get one day every hundred years and you jack it up!

The story is kind of jumbled and rambling.  It feels a bit like Lost Horizon with Brigadoon standing in for Shangri La…but unlike Shangri La, it doesn’t feel like the people of Brigadoon benefit from this hidden city.  They go to sleep each day and sleep for a hundred years…getting to live one day again.  I’d understand if the city went on without contact and only touched reality every hundred years, but it doesn’t seem to benefit much.  Plus with the ending, if someone in Brigadoon wakes up to use the outhouse at night does the whole town reappear until he or she goes back to bed?

The cast is rather blasé and typical for when it was made.  Gene Kelly doesn’t really get to do much to flex his dancing or singing as much as some of his other films.  I kind of like Van Johnson’s “I don’t give a crap about any of this” sidekick who seems so uninterested in Brigadoon that I can understand.  Cyd Charisse is nice as the female lead yet nothing extraordinary (she was dubbed by Carol Richards for the singing), and Albert Sharpe is also good as her father with Barry Jones and the town elder with the answers.

brigadoon cyd charisee van johnson gene kelly barry jones

Wait…explain again how living one day every hundred years is beneficial?

The filmmakers originally wanted to shoot Brigadoon on location, but the studios ordered it shot with sets.  The movie hurts at this with rather generic looking backdrops.  Despite a desire to be shot on location, I can’t imagine that the outdoor shots still wouldn’t have been transferred to a stage for the singing numbers, but it still would have looked better.  The movie was shot in a nice, wide Cinemascope format which was new at the time in addition to a standard ratio (Oklahoma! was shot at the same time and also shot both formats).

Brigadoon didn’t impress me much.  I can’t say that any of the songs stood out and moments like Gene Kelly dreaming of Brigadoon with music all of the sudden piping in made me almost laugh out loud instead of building emotion for the character and his desire to be with Fiona…I don’t think it was necessarily what the filmmakers were going for.  I was happy that he ended up with Fiona…I think they’ll both be pretty disappointed when they reappear in 2054 and find that Brigadoon is surrounded by tract homes.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

One Comment on "Brigadoon (1954)"

  1. Geezer June 14, 2018 at 10:52 pm - Reply

    Of course the two stories are the same. Good for you that you picked up on that. The significant dialog is provided by Mr. Lundy and by the High Lama. I suspect you are less than 130 years old, and so are at a disadvantage to appreciate these stories.

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