THE FRANK SINATRA AND GENE KELLY COLLECTION DVD Review

     May 28, 2008




Reviewed by Nico


Anchors Aweigh follows Kelly and Sinatra as two navy men, Joe Brady and Clarence Doolittle, recently awarded with the Silver Star on a four-day leave in Hollywood. Jose Iturbi conducting the Navy band sends them off. Brady is keen on meeting up with his Lola. Not on land for more than a short period of time, the duo find themselves saddled with a runaway child (Navy-wannabe Donald played by a very young Dean Stockwell). His aunt Susie (Kathryn Grayson) is grateful for his return and Clarence is grateful for the opportunity to meet Susie. The duo attempt to woo Susie with the promise of an audition with Jose Iturbi, which is music to the ears of this singing ingénue. Clarence winds up falling for a waitress from Brooklyn, leaving Joe free to pursue Susie’s affections. Many people recognize this movie for its dance duet between Kelly and Jerry (the animated mouse from Tom and Jerry).



On The Town follows three sailors on their 24-hour leave in New York City. Most notably, it features the song New York, New York (not the one that will be associated with the older Sinatra but rather the Bernstein, “Bronx is up and the Battery’s down” song). The film (co-directed by Kelly) also was on the forefront of Hollywood musicals to feature on-location shooting in its New York City locale. Frank Sinatra plays Chip from Peoria who wants to sightsee. His two compatriots Gene Kelly’s Gabey and Jules Munshin’s Ozzie would like to find some female companionship. The men see a subway poster for Miss Turnstiles, Ivy Smith (Vera-Ellen also known for White Christmas) and Gabey is instantly smitten. He immediately makes contact as he stumbles across her latest photo shoot but doesn’t have much of a chance to make his move. In their search for this elusive poster girl, the other two men cross paths with their love interests. The taxi driver they enlist to follow Ivy, Brunhilde “Hildy” (Betty Garrett), shows great and persistent interest in Chip. Ozzie stands next to a caveman and the resemblance brings about the interest of scientist Claire (Ann Miller). The seamen are on the run after Ozzie makes the mistake of knocking down a dinosaur in the museum. Having found women of their own, the trio split up and Chip and Ozzie leave Gabey to his search. All six reunite, but it’s short lived as Ivy has to go to work as a cooch dancer (I’m not making that up, the term is actually used in the film). The three also spend some time in drag before their day is over.



Take Me Out to the Ballgame follows Kelly and Sinatra as two baseball players (O’Brien and Ryan) who moonlight as vaudevillians. The film is notable for its seventh inning stretch titular song. Jules Munshin returns to the pair as Goldberg and Betty Garrett makes another appearance, this time as an ardent fan Shirley Delwyn. The pair return to the team and learn that there’s new ownership. The mystery is short-lived when the new owner, K.C. Higgins, turns out to be a lady (played by swimming star Esther Williams). They also run into some trouble when some gamblers want to put in the fix and try to lure O’Brien with the promise of chorus girls. This comes between K.C. and O’Brien’s blooming romance, but there’s still a shot at redemption for him when he attends a Wolves baseball game after being kicked off the team.



VIDEO/AUDIO/EXTRAS



The three movies each come on their own separate DVD. Scene selections are divided so that you can jump right to one of the musical numbers.



Anchors Aweigh is available with English or French soundtracks and subtitles, as well as trailers for Anchors Aweigh, On the Town and Take Me Out to the Ballgame. There’s also a short segment on the “Worry Song” from the documentary When the Lion Roars featuring an interview with William Hanna and Joseph Barbera.



On The Town is available with English or French soundtracks and subtitles, with an included theatrical trailer and scene selections are divided so that you can jump right to one of the musical numbers.



Take Me Out to the Ballgame can be viewed with English or French subtitles and features cast cards for Sinatra and Kelly as well as trailers for Anchors Aweigh, On the Town and Take Me Out to the Ballgame. In addition to this, there are two deleted musical numbers “Baby Doll” (with Kelly and Esther Williams) and “Boys and Girls like You and Me” (with Sinatra and Betty Garrett). Oddly enough, the latter song was previously cut from both Oklahoma! and Meet Me in St. Louis.



FINAL WORDS



It’s weird to me that this is considered to be a part of the Frank Sinatra Collection. While Sinatra features well in all three films, he tends to be Gene Kelly’s sidekick. If you enjoy musical numbers, though, you know that both of these men excel in both the acting, dancing and singing aspects. With music by those such as Leonard Bernstein, this is a surefire addition to your musical library.





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