Warner Home Video / Region 1
Featuring Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly, Kathryn Grayson, Esther Williams,
This May marks the 10th anniversary of the death of the legendary Chairman of the Board himself – Frank Sinatra. Warner are marking his passing by releasing 22 of his movgies onto DVD. Mst of them for the first time ever.
Amongst the box sets out this month are an Early Years Collection, An Ultimate Collectors Rat Pack set and here The Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly Collection which features a trio of all time classic musicals – Anchors Aweigh, Take Me Out to the Ball Game and On The Town.
ANCHORS AWEIGH which was released in 1945 was a truly glorious technicolor extravaganza complete with GeneKelly dancing with an animated Jerry (of Tom and Jerry fame), the likes of which had never been seen before; Kelly and Sinatra star as a couple of sailors on leave, Kelly falls for wannabe singer Kathryn Grayson and persuades here he can arrange an audition for her with the legendary Jose Iturbi, he can’t of course and he and Frank face a frantic runaround trying to arrange an intro. Frank himself, meanwhile, is busy wooing Pamela Britton, a girl who happens to come from his home town of Flatbush. It’s along movie (140 minutes) but has some brilliant sequences including a trio of Kelly’s trademark dance routines – one of which sees a fantasy sequence of a gold shirt bedecked Kelly wooing Grayson in a Spanish courtyard. Most well known though is the sequence in which Kelly dances with none too pleased animated mouse Jerry. Key Sinatra songs on display here include duets with Kelly on If You Knew Susie, i Blessed Her and We Hate To Leave and solo spots on Cradle Song, What Makes The Sunset, The Charm of You and I Fall in Love Too Easily. Extras on this solid gold slice of fun from the golden age of Holywood include a vintage interview with animators Hanna Barbera, an excerpt from MGM’s When The Lion Roars doco series and 3 theatrical trailers.
ON THE TOWN from 1949 actually began life as a ballet called Fancy Free, before being reworked as a Broadway musical in 1944 by Leonard Bernstein. Plot wise it’s very similar to Anchors aweigh with this time a trio of sailors on shore leave for 24 hours in New York. It’s a much more adult production though. The three sailors, Kelly, Sinatra and Jules Munshin are all looking for love of course. Sinatra finds himself being chased by a no nonsense cabbie called Brunhilde (played by Betty Garrett), Munshin falls for an anthropologist (the gorgeous Ann Miller) whilst Kelly falls in love with a girl he sees on a poster (the equally gorgeous Vera Ellen) and determines to track her down, which in the best Hollywood tradition he does of course. A massively successful, popular and influential movie On The Town is also chock full of great tunes from the classic opening sequence to New York, New York, to Come Up To My Place performed by Sinatra and Garrett and well deserving of its Oscar for best musical score. Extras are the theatrical trailer.
TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALL GAME also from 1949 and featuring much of the same cast (with Esther Williams in place of Vera Ellen), its more of a straight forward comedy musical, set at turn of the century the plot centers around a baseball team and its manager (Williams) and there is something of an eternal triangle with Sinatra carrying a torch for Williams who is actually in love with Kelly. Esther Williams was a major Olympic swimmer before her film career and most of her movies feature swimming extravaganzas in some way or another and this one is no exception of course but the stand out is probably the title song and other songs include O’Brien to Ryan to Goldberg, The Hat My Father Wore on St Patricks Day; Sinatra singing The Right Girl For Me and a Kelly – Sinatra duet on Yes Indeedy. Extras are excellent on this set and include two previously deleted numbers called Baby Doll and Boys and Girls Like You and Me, there are also special notes on Frank SInatra and Gene Kelly and a trio of theatrical trailers.
A brilliant release that show both Sinatra and Kelly at their best together with the other releases make a brilliant package remembering on of the real all time greats.