Sunday, January 29, 2012

It's Always Fair Weather (1955)

Seen: On dvd on my tv, from my personal collection.

My shop periodically gets in an assortment of super-cheap dvds, so when I found a musical with Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse that I hadn't seen buried among the numerous copies of Hellboy and Kissing Jessica Stein, I knew it was worth the $2.00. Written by one of my favorite screenwriting pairs, Adolph Green and Betty Comden, It's Always Fair Weather investigates the enforced "normalcy" of life after WWII, as experienced by three good-natured American soldiers. They make a pact to meet in a New York City bar in 10 years, only to discover upon reunion that they've all turned into jerks. Singing and hi-jinks ensue.

Produced around the time standard Hollywood musicals were falling out of favor, It's Always Fair Weather is enjoyable enough fluff that at times strives to be more down-to-earth. It's sort of a sad premise, and there's a good amount of hard drinking and introspection involved as the main characters are faced with how their priorities and personalities have changed over 10 years, and how the bonds forged in wartime might not be as strong as they thought. The musical numbers are swell (this is Kelly and Donen, after all), and the script gets in some zingy dialogue, but there is something of a disconnect between the themes and moods of the film overall. There are too many half-assed subplots and awkwardly-inserted songs, it doesn't fit together cohesively. I liked so many of its parts that it worked out ok, though.

The cast is excellent, featuring the awesome Dan Dailey, adorable Michael Kidd, and the ever-charismatic Gene Kelly as the ex-soldiers, and the jaw-droppingly sultry Cyd Charisse and hilarious Dolores Gray as their lady counterparts. Charisse gets to impress everyone with her statistic-laden memory and calculating marketing skills, while Gray- whom I hadn't seen before- impressed me personally with her fantastic singing voice. Cyd has the sexiest musical number, DUH, though I was also bowled over by Kelly's roller-skating prowess.

Green and Comden don't always make sure-fire hits but in my experience their films always entertaining, which is all I really ask of this type of musical anyway.

Oh also there's a huge fight scene at the end. UNEXPECTED.

3.5/5

Pair This Movie With: Well this was originally meant as a sequel to On The Town so that might be a nice precursor.

5 comments:

  1. "Enforced normalcy" of life after WWII....I never quite heard of the experience described that way. Interesting.

    I like that the tone of the movie is somewhat down. In a way it makes it seem a bit more current.

    All of the musical performances a great. The roller skating number must have been tough. I'm convinced Gene Kelly can do anything. Cyd's boxing gym number is really incredible. But as far as the sexiness quantum is concerned, it pales in comparison to Dolores Gray's "Thanks a Lot But No Thanks".

    This is my first visit here. I plan on stopping by often. You have written on a lot of interesting movies. A real treat.

    Thanks
    Dave

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  2. Dave: I think it's good that the film's tone is a bit more down-to-earth too, I just don't think that fits with some of the songs and subplots. At times it tried to be legitimately realistic and emotional but those clashed with some of the more fantastical musical numbers. And I really enjoyed Dolores Gray but for me few could compare to Charisse, in any context! Anyway thanks so much for your lovely comment!

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  3. Everyone has their faves for sure. With Dolores and Cyd in the same movie, how can we lose?

    Dave

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