5 Movies Directed by Stanley Donen

A choreographer turned director, Stanley Donen directed some of classic Hollywood's most popular musicals. Donen began his career in the chorus line on Broadway, where he made the acquaintance of future star Gene Kelly. He went to Hollywood in 1943 and spent several years as a choreographer before making his debut with Anchors Aweigh, starring Kelly and Frank Sinatra.

A classic musical starring Fred Astaire, Royal Wedding featured one of the most famous dance sequences ever put on film. The movie starred Astaire as Tom Bowen, who stars alongside his sister, Ellen (Jane Powell), in the popular Broadway show, Every Night at Seven. The two take the show to London, only to see Ellen break up the act when she falls in love with a British nobleman (Peter Lawford). Tom finds romance himself with a young woman (Sarah Churchill). That's it as far as plot, but it was the magical dance numbers that really held things together. Especially Astaire's famous dancing on the walls and ceiling to the tune of "You Are the World to Me." Though originally Astaire's idea—he had first mentioned it to MGM back in  1945—the famed dance sequence was executed perfectly by Donen.

Donen quickly followed up Royal Wedding by directing one of the most beloved Hollywood musicals of all time, Singin' in the Rain. The film starred Gene Kelly as a silent era film star whose easy transition to talkies is hampered when his longtime partner (Jean Hagan) can't follow his footsteps because of her shrill voice. Enter Debbie Reynolds, who dubs in her voice, only to fall for Kelly. Tensions between Donen and the hard-driving Kelly were at a fever pitch. The two collaborators would make one more film together, It's Always Fair Weather (1955), before spending the ensuing decades publicly sniping at each other.

Another great musical from Donen, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers consistently ranks high on the list of best films made in the genre. Loosely based on Stephen Vincent Benét's short story The Sobbin' Women, the film focused on Adam Pontabee (Howard Keel), who brings his new bride, Milly (Jane Powell), back home to his Oregon ranch. Milly is appalled by Adam's slovenly brothers and sets out to turn them into gentlemen. Meanwhile, the six brothers try to win over the affections of six young women by kidnapping them and somewhat forcing them to stay on their farm for the winter. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and was hailed for its rousing dance numbers, as well as the well-choreographed fight scene while raising a barn.

Adapted from the Broadway musical that itself based on a novel, The Pajama Game teamed Donen with another choreographer great, Bob Fosse. The film starred Doris Day as Babe, a pajama factory worker and union leader who's in love with manager Sid Sorkin (John Raitt). Both worry that their relationship will be torn asunder because of their professional status and that's exactly what happens when the workers go on strike. Babe sabotages some equipment and gets herself fired, while Sid uncovers a scheme by his boss has been skimming off the top. The Pajama Game featured songs from the original Broadway production, including "I'm Not At All in Love" and "Hey There."

Often referred to the best Hitchcock movie that Hitchcock never made, Charade paired Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn in this mix of romance, comedy, and spy thriller. Grant starred as Peter Joshua, a mysterious man who offers to help the young, innocent Reggie Lampert (Hepburn) after she learns her husband died. Reggie quickly discovers that her husband helped steal a quarter million dollars and three of his accomplices want their hands on it. Turns out that Peter—who reveals himself to have not one, but two alternate identities—also wants to get the money. A decidedly different genre and tone from his previous work, Charade was highly praised by critics that featured one of Grant's last great performances.