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Posts Tagged ‘vera-ellen’

Yet another classic musical from MGM (who I believe made all the best musicals during the 40s and 50s).  Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra team up again for a third time (and just like in Anchors Aweigh, they play sailors on shore leave), and they are  joined by Jules Munshin, as the third member of their trio.  They are a day off in New York, and are determined to see all the sites, and meet some pretty girls.  Pretty soon all of them have fallen for a different girl (played respectively by Vera-Ellen, Betty Garrett and Ann Miller).  Super dance numbers and some great comedic moments ensue.

I loved this film – like other musicals of its day, it is happy and funny, and leaves you with a huge smile on your face.  Naturally, there are some fantastic dance sequences, mainly courtesy of Kelly, Vera-Ellen and Ann Miller (whose tap dance in the museum is simply wonderful).  You kind of always know where the story is going, but the journey there is a great deal of fun.  There’s some snappy dialogue, and Kelly, Sinatra and Munshin all delight (Munshin was far funnier than I expected him to be, and I loved the scene on the top of the Empire State Building.)

Definitely a film to watch if you need a quick injection of happiness!

Year of release: 1949

Directors: Stanley Donen, Gene Kelly

Producers: Arthur Freed, Roger Edens

Writers: Adolph Green, Betty Comden, Jerome Robbins

Main cast: Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Jules Munshin, Vera-Ellen, Ann Miller, Betty Garrett

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This much beloved Christmas film from 1954, is the second Bing Crosby film to portray him as part of a group of entertainers, set in a hotel, and in which he sings White Christmas.  The similarities to Holiday Inn are notable – and the two films would have been even more similar if Fred Astaire had been Crosby’s co-star – which was the original plan.  However, Astaire was going through his first retirement stage when this film was made, so Donald O’Connor was cast.  When he became unavailable, Danny Kaye was eventually given the role.

Crosby and Kaye play two Bob Wallace and Phil Davis, two WW2 army friends.  After the war is over Bob goes back to his original job as a Broadway entertainer, and is joined by Phil.  They meet two sisters – Betty and Judy Haynes (played by Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen respectively), who have a singing act of their own.  Hoping to get Bob and Betty together, Phil persuades his entertainment partner to accompany the sisters to Vermont, where they wind up in a hotel run by their former commanding officer, Major General Waverley (Dean Jagger).  The hotel is down on its luck, haemorrhaging money, and has no guests.  Bob, Phil, Betty and Judy pledge to put on a show to draw the crowds in, and improve the fortunes of their beloved former boss.

I did like this film a lot – it was very light hearted (and of course, somewhat predictable; we all know how romantic comedy musicals are going to turn out after all), but it’s a shame that Astaire wasn’t available to partner Crosby again – for the all the fabulous dancing and entertainment on show here, I think his presence would have enhanced it still further.  Still, Danny Kaye really gave it his all, and provided many of the more humorous moments.

There were some terrific dance numbers, courtesy mainly of Vera-Ellen (who had a beautiful face, but sadly some of the skimpier costumes really highlighted the actress’s battle with anorexia – her legs looked painfully thin in certain scenes) – my favourite one was the dance with her and Danny Kaye ‘The Best Things Happen While You’re Dancing’ – lovely song, great dance.

Rosemary Clooney’s voice was perfect – of course – and I really liked her more hesitant character.  She was the perfect screen girlfriend for Bing Crosby here – while Vera-Ellen and Danny Kaye provided humour, Rosemary Clooney and Bing Crosby provided pathos (and humour too).

So really, like a lot of musicals, this is a string of great numbers held together by a slightly flimsy storyline.  It’s so good-natured however that you can’t help feeling good when viewing.  Definitely recommended as a festive treat!

Year of release: 1954

Director: Michael Curtiz

Writers: Norman Krasna, Norman Panama, Melvin Frank

Main cast: Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Vera-Ellen, Rosemary Clooney

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