Posts Tagged ‘howard keel’

In this musical comedy, Adam Pontipee (Howard Keel) is the oldest of seven brothers.  When he brings home his new bride Milly (Jane Powell), she insists on improving their manners and appearance, and they decide that they would like to find brides of their own.

I’m not really sure why I enjoyed this film so much, but I did enjoy it.  Most of the songs are not particularly memorable (except for Bless Your Beautiful Hide, which I was singing to myself for ages after the film had finished), and a lot of the characters are never really developed – apart from Adam and youngest brother Gideon, the others were pretty much interchangeable.  And in addition to that, the character of Adam is petulant and petty at times.  But for all that, I did like the film.  The barn-raising dance (shown in the above video link) is a real joy, full of energy and colour, and I also liked the Lonely Polecat number, where the six younger brothers are lamenting their lack of female companionship.

Jane Powell looks beautiful, and her character was great – you do need to suspend your disbelief somewhat, as she agrees to marry Adam after just one brief meeting – and her shock at realising that she is sharing her new home with six unruly men apart from her husband was very funny.

This is not the best example of the musical genre, but it is an hour and a half of fun and laughter, and if you are a fan of musicals, I would recommend it.

Year of release: 1954

Director: Stanley Donen

Producer: Jack Cummings

Writers: Stephen Vincent Benet (story ‘The Sobbin’ Women’), Albert Hackett, Frances Goodrich, Dorothy Kingsley

Main cast: Howard Keel, Jane Powell, Russ Tamblyn, Jeff Richards, Tommy Rall, Marc Platt, Matt Mattox, Jacques D’Amboise


Click here for my review of the 2013/2014 stage production of Seven Brides For Seven Brothers.


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This is a fun film from 1953, with Doris Day as famous sharpshooter Calamity Jane and Howard Keel as Wild Bill Hickok.  Calamity promises to bring a big singing star to Deadwood, but through a case of mistaken identity, brings the wrong person.  However, the girl she brings – Katie – turns out to be a hit and stays in Deadwood.  Problems ensue when both the Lieutenant and Wild Bill fall for Katie…

Well, if you’re looking for historical accuracy or to learn more about the real Calamity Jane, this film is not the one to watch!  However, if you’re looking for some uplifting tunes and a great deal of fun, then I’d recommend watching it.  Doris Day is as gorgeous as ever in the lead role, and even though none of the men in Deadwood see Calamity as anything other than one of the guys, it’s impossible to cover up Doris’s beauty to the viewer.  She hams up her part and seems to have a lot of fun with it.  She portrays Calamity as a woman capable of holding her own against any man, but also nursing vulnerabilities that she’s afraid to show.  But apart from her beautiful song ‘Secret Love’, this film does not dwell too much on serious matters and instead just provides pure entertainment.

Howard Keel was great as Wild Bill.  I far preferred his part in this to his role in Kiss Me Kate, and Bill was a great foil to the adorable feisty Calamity.  The two leads have great chemistry together and their duets The Black Hills Of Dakota and I Can Do Without You work very well.  I also really liked the aforementioned Secret Love, and the opening song The Deadwood Stage (Whip Crackaway).

Overall some good laughs, likeable leads, the lovely Doris Day, and a singalong score – definitely worth watching, especially for fans of musicals, or light hearted Westerns.

Year of release: 1953

Director: David Butler

Writer: James O’Hanlon

Main cast: Doris Day, Howard Keel, Allyn Ann McLerie, Philip Carey


Click here for my review of Willenhall Musical Theatre Company’s 2013 stage production.


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Kiss Me Kate was an MGM musical, adapted from Cole Porter’s Broadway play of the same name.  The plot of the Broadway production was ‘a play within a play’.  Here of course, it is ‘a play within a film’.  Howard Keel and Kathryn Grayson play Fred Graham and Lilli Vanessi, a divorced couple who are reunited on stage at least, as Katherine and Petruchio in Cole Porter’s play ‘Kiss Me Kate’, based on Shakespeare’s ‘The Taming Of The Shrew.  Although they are obviously still drawn to each other, their differing personalities cause them to repeatedly clash, and matters are complicated by Lois Lane(!), played superbly by Ann Miller.  Lois is set to play Bianca, the younger sister of Katherine, in Kiss Me Kate, and flirts constantly with Fred.  Furthermore, Lilli is now engaged to someone else!

Kiss Me Kate was a big success for MGM, and something of a comeback for Cole Porter, whose career had taken a dip prior to this.  Certainly, there are some lovely songs -and dance routines – in the film.  My favourites were It’s Too Darn Hot, Why Can’t You Behave? and Always True You In My Fashion, all sung by Ann Miller (she was accompanied on Always True… by Tommy Rall; and Brush Up Your Shakespeare, sung by Keenan Wynn and James Whitmore.  All of these numbers also featured some spectacular dances – Ann Miller was an incredible dancer, and to watch her dancing over the furniture in It’s Too Darn Hot, or skipping across rooftops with Tommy Rall in Why Can’t You Behave? was a treat.  The Brush Up Your Shakespeare dance is also amusing and delightful.  Kathryn Grayson played the part of Lilli very well, and she and Miller not only inhabited their roles in the film, but also their roles in the play within the film very comfortably.  (For my money, Miller was easily the best performer in the film, and credit should also be given to Tommy Rall who partners her in some excellent dancing.)

So with all this going for it, I was surprised that I didn’t enjoy this film more.  There were some great parts, and certainly some real talent involved, but I think Howard Keel didn’t work for me as a leading man.  He did actually have a long and successful career as a leading man, but I didn’t really find him convincing (although he was better when playing Fred than when playing Petruchio).  Of course, it’s all personal taste, and Keel has a very strong following, but I could never really warm up to him in this movie. However, I suspect that it may be the type of film where enjoyment increases with repeated viewing.

Overall, it isn’t one I would rush to watch again, but it’s worth seeing even if only for Ann Miller’s terrific performance.

Year of release: 1953

Director: George Sidney

Writers: Sam Spewack, Bella Spewack, William Shakespeare (play ‘The Taming Of The Shrew’)

Main cast: Howard Keel, Kathryn Grayson, Ann Miller, Tommy Rall

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