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USA 1949
Directed by
Gene Kelly / Stanley Donen
98 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

On The Town

Although now largely overlooked, On the Town, Gene Kelly's first collaboration with his dance director, Stanley Donen (Singin' In The Rain,1952, being their better known achievement), with its location shooting and its integration of song and dance into the narrative was critically lauded in its day . Inspired by a ballet by choreographer Jerome Robbins and composer Leonard Bernstein, it was turned into a stage musical by Betty Comden, Adolph Green and Bernstein (the first two played the parts on stage that are played by Ann Miller and Jules Munshin in the film) it was an instant hit when first produced in 1944.

For the film version, Arthur Freed wanted something less highbrow and ordered the story re-worked and some of the Bernstein songs replaced, Roger Edens being brought in for that job. Although the relentlessly juvenile enthusiasm is somewhat monotonous, particularly given the slim storyline, and the cast are too old for their parts (the characters are presumably not long out of their teens) the film's exuberance is undeniable, Kelly's choreography is impressive, the dream sequence A Day In New York introducing a new style of interpretive dance to the film musical and the songs are generally clever and catchy, 'New York, New York', performed with gusto by Kelly, Munshin and Frank Sinatra, being the one that most people will recognize (although it is different from the Fred Ebbs/John Kander song of the same name which became one of his signature songs). .

FYI: Early in the film, Chip, played by Sinatra, is joshed by his buddies for his dismissive attitude towards New York girls. They ask him "Who've you got at home? Ava Gardner? Two years later Sinatra married Ava Gardner.




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