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Sunday, 2 December 2012

On the Town (1948) - Star of the month... Frank Sinatra

"East side, West side, rouse the city... One day, one night, that's the pity...Let's have a ball tonight, we're going on the town"

Frank Sinatra, Betty Garrett, Jules Munshin, Ann Miller,
Gene Kelly & Vera-Ellen in 'On the Town'
'On the Town' is a 1949 musical directed by Gene Kelly & Stanley Donen, and starring Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Betty Garrett, Ann Miller, Vera-Ellen, Jules Munshin & Alice Pearce.

The film features a screenplay by Adolph Green and Betty Comden, from their Broadway musical of the same name.

Three sailors with twenty four leave are set to paint the town red, white and blue as they embark on a one day trip to New York, New York. They see this month's Miss Turnstile, Ivy Smith. They embark on a three man mission to find her. On the way, they meet and get some help from female taxi-driver Hildy (played by Garrett) and anthropological student Claire Huddesen (played by Miller).
"New York, New York, it's a wonderful town!"


The trailer was produced as a mock James A. Fitzpatrick "TravelTalk: The Voice of the Globe" short film on Manhattan, with narration by Fitzpatrick. 
Watch the trailer:

Musical program

Frank Sinatra & Betty Garrett sing
"Come Up To My Place"
  • "New York, New York" - Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra & Jules Munshin
  • "Miss Turnstiles Dance" - Vera-Ellen
  • "Prehistoric Man" - Ann Miller (with Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Betty Garrett & Jules Munshin)
  • "Come Up To My Place" - Frank Sinatra & Betty Garrett
  • "Main Street" - Gene Kelly (with Vera-Ellen)
  • "You're Awful" - Frank Sinatra (with Betty Garrett)
  • "On The Town" - Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Betty Garrett, Ann Miller, Vera-Ellen & Jules Munshin
  • "Sambacabana Revue" - Sambacabana Chorus Girls
  • "Dixieland Revue" - Dixieland Chorus Girls
  • "Shanghai Revue" - Shanghai Chorus Girls
  • "Count On Me" - Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Betty Garrett, Ann Miller, Jules Munshin & Alice Pearce
  • "A Day in New York: A Ballet in 3 Acts" - Gene Kelly & Vera-Ellen
  • "New York, New York" (Finale)

The only musical numbers retained from the original musical were "New York, New York", "Miss Turnstiles Dance", "Come Up To My Place" and the "A Day in New York Ballet".  Six new songs written for the film replaced the following songs not included: "I Can Cook Too", "Some Other Time", "Lucky To Be Me", "Lonely Town", "Carried Away", "I Understand", "Carnegie Hall (Do-Do-Re-Do)", "So Long Baby", "I'm Blue" and "Ya Got Me".

Song: "New York, New York" - Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra & Jules Munshin

Song: "Come Up To My Place" - Betty Garrett & Frank Sinatra

Song: "On The Town" - Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Ann Miller, Betty Garrett, Jules Munshin & Vera-Ellen

Song: "Prehistoric Man" - Ann Miller (with Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Betty Garrett & Jules Munshin)

Song: "You Can Count On Me" - Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Ann Miller, Betty Garrett, Jules Munshin & Alice Pearce

Clip from "A Day in New York Ballet" - Gene Kelly & Vera-Ellen

Song: "Miss Turnstile's Dance" - Vera-Ellen

Did you know...

  • This was the first major musical to be filmed on location
  • This was the third and final film Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra made together
  • This was the screen debut for Alice Pearce, Carol Haney and Bea Benaderet
  • Alice Pearce originally played Lucy Schmeeler in the original Broadway production of 'On the Town' - she was the only member of the Broadway cast to appear in the film
  • At the time of it's release, 'On the Town' was the second highest grossing film in MGM history, after 'Meet Me in St. Louis' (1944)
  • Judy Holliday dubbed the following line of dialogue for an uncredited bit player: "The grass is always greener, if ya know what I mean"
  • The Club Dixieland Chorus girls are wearing costumes previously worn in 'The Harvey Girls' (1946)
  • Gene Kelly once said this was his favourite of all his films

Closing remarks

Whenever I think about my favourite movie musicals, one of the first films I always think of is 'On The Town'. I absolutely adore it! 

'On the Town' is 100% pure entertainment from the moment the three boys step off the boat and sing "New York, New York", until they return to the ship 24 hours later. 

The story is engaging, the jokes funny, the songs show-stopping and the performances brilliant. 

Speaking of the performances, I'd like to make special mention of four of the actresses in this film...
Ann Miller in 'Prehistoric Man', backed up by the world's
most expensive chorus: Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra,
Betty Garrett & Jules Munshin

Ann Miller... What can I say? LOVE HER!!! This was the first Ann Miller film I had ever seen, and she instantly became one of my top 3 favourite stars, and she still is. Ann Miller once remarked, she had the world's most-expensive chorus backing her up in the 'Prehistoric Man' number... the chorus being Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Betty Garrett & Jules Munshin.

Betty Garrett is fantastic as taxi-driver Hildy. Garrett is an actress I like very much, but sadly did not appear in many films.

Vera-Ellen is perfect as Ivy Smith, and it's pleasing to see her reunited with Gene Kelly. The two had initially danced together in the 1948 musical biography 'Words and Music'.

Alice Pearce, remembered by most people as the first Mrs. Kravitz in the 1960s TV series 'Bewitched'. Despite having a very small role in 'On the Town', Pearce shows us her unique comedic talent at being the annoying ugly duckling.

I repeat, 'On the Town' is one of the best movie musicals ever made, with Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Betty Garrett and Ann Miller at their best. I love 'On the Town', and I know you will too!

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