THE GREATEST OF ALL GREAT MGM MUSICALS… BIGGER, BETTER, BLUSHIN-ER THAN THE FAMED BROADWAY SMASH HIT.
A musical version of Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew” is being produced; the two leads (Kathryn Grayson, Howard Keel) turn out to have the same kind of stormy relationship as the characters they play. Two years after turning Show Boat into a hit, director George Sidney reunited with Grayson and Keel for another musical hit. The stars have fun with their bickering characters; Ann Miller is also memorable as a lively competitor for Keel’s affection. The movie may not be one of the great musicals, but it is a splashy, fun experience with good Cole Porter songs and excellent choreography; the “Brush Up Your Shakespeare” number is a perfect example.
1953-U.S. 109 min. Color. Produced by Jack Cummings. Directed by George Sidney. Screenplay: Dorothy Kingsley. Play: Samuel Spewack, Bella Spewack. Music: André Previn, Saul Chaplin. Songs: Cole Porter (”Always True To You In My Fashion”, Brush Up Your Shakespeare”, ”From The Moment On”). Choreography: Hermes Pan. Cast: Kathryn Grayson (Lillie Vanessi), Howard Keel (Fred Graham), Ann Miller (Lois Lane), Bobby Van, Keenan Wynn, James Whitmore… Bob Fosse.
Trivia: Laurence Olivier and Danny Kaye were allegedly considered for the part of Fred; Deanna Durbin as Lillie. Originally shown in 3D.
Last word: “Cole Porter was so charming, and he didn’t take himself seriously at all. We went to his house for lunch one day and he gave me a recipe for a fabulous cold soup. In fact, there was one song of his that didn’t work out too well, and he just asked, ‘Do you want me to write another one?’ We used another song of his that wasn’t in the original score of ‘Kiss Me Kate’ – ‘From This Moment On.’ George Sidney let Bob Fosse help direct that number. That was his [Fosse’s] first real break – and the best number in the show.” (Kingsley, “Dorothy Kingsley: The Fixer”)