|normally I wouldn't include a poster featuring spanking, but this was the image they stuck on *every* poster|
Format: TCM on DVR
Director: George Sidney
You know, I liked this one a lot.
Yeah, a lot of stuff dated very badly, but, I mean...*
No, Kiss Me Kate (1953) didn't feature enough Ann Miller, but nothing does. The idea and execution worked for me. The film works in the age-old tradition of a "play within a play", which is only fitting when adapting Shakespeare - as Howard Keel's leading man of Broadway tries to woo his ex-wife (Kathryn Grayson) back to the stage and back into his arms. Even if he's also got Ann Miller lined up, and cast as Grayson's sister in the show.
I've seen *some* Shakespeare, but never The Taming of the Shrew, which is the basis for the musical in the movie. Still, it's tough to get through life in the English speaking world without getting some reference to the show at some point in life, and I'm familiar with the idea. The film is adapted from a 1947 Broadway show - and in the film, Howard Keel has teamed with someone playing a fictional version of Cole Porter to put on a musical of Taming of the Shrew, so we get a framing first act and then jump to the opening of the show, including backstage antics, and parts of the show mixed in. Complete with a theater full of extras on the stage and in the seats.
Of course the backstage and on-stage stories intermingle in theme and character arcs, and everyone ends up happy in the end. But there's something about the contrivances and even "you said the quiet part out loud" bit where watching Shakespeare makes people feel smart - that actually kind of works. Musicals have notoriously goofy plotlines piled on the oddness of people just busting into song, so keeping you busy with this much story just sort of works.
Miller has the big show starter with Porter's "It's Too Darn Hot" as a sort of tap burlesque, and with Porter providing songs, it's kinda hard to go wrong. Of course Keel and Grayson were musical stars of no small stature (well, Grayson looks to be about 5'1"), and play well together.
The film is a visual spectacle, shot and released in 3D - I can only imagine how the sets and dance numbers looked for 1950's audiences. That includes some sets and costumes designed with an almost Mary Blair palette approved by Technicolor.
It's also worth noting that the film includes a young Bob Fosse, who apparently got a big boost from his work on the film that led to him getting work on Broadway.
Anyway - light, fun, better than I figured - it's a good time. But I'd love to see it in 3D on the big screen.
*sometimes you have to think of the past as an exotic locale where you can have your opinions, but the locals are gonna do what they're gonna do. You just gotta do better when you get home.