On The Town (1949, Stanley Donen & Gene Kelly)

Unaccountably wonderful movie… seems like the usual madcap romantic comedy business (three sailors have a day of shore leave, spend it picking up girls) but the very end, returning to the ship as three more sailors head out, and the movie’s overall sense of the city (simultaneously huge and cozy) gave me a happy glow. Although is it weird that it’s a musical and I’ve already forgotten all the songs?

Katy took a break from Fred Astaire, got us Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra this time. It’s actually the same three guys from Take Me Out to the Ball Game (“O’Brien to Ryan to Goldberg”) with Jules Munshin as the goofy third fellow. Gene is wide-eyed naive about the city, immediately falls for a girl pictured on subway posters (Miss Turnstiles for June). Gene acts like she’s a celebrity and insists he’s going to meet her. The other two guys know this is unlikely, but it keeps working out. Miss Turnstiles aka Ivy is Vera-Ellen (Rosemary Clooney’s sister in White Christmas), the assertive cab driver who likes Sinatra is Betty Garrett (not Frank’s girl but Gene’s in Take Me Out to the Ball Game) and the random anthropologist following Ozzie is Ann Miller, who I know best from Mulholland Dr.

TCM says it was groundbreaking for using real locations, shooting with hidden cameras on the NYC streets, and indulging Gene’s interest in modern dance (seen in full bloom in An American In Paris).

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