Original version with subtitles
Brush Up Your Shakespeare sing two clownish gangsters in one of Kiss Me Kate’s tastiest numbers, but what’s really brushed up here, even if the whole film revolves around a staging of The Taming of the Shrew, it’s above all old memories from screwball comedies. Him, a mentor in a smoking jacket, and her, an unruly blonde, two divorced theatre actors, quarrelsome but still in love, a little like in Twentieth Century; she’s about to get married again to a Texan cattleman, a little like in The Awful Truth, so he strives to hold onto her with the line “It won’t work, Lilli, you belong in the theatre”, almost an echo of the “I need you, you need me, the newspaper needs both” with which Cary Grant tries to convince estranged wife Rosalind Russell to dump his rival in His Girl Friday. Mind you, the difference (in tempo, in timing, in style) between this ‘remarriage musical’ and its narrative influences is stellar; the memories are just pillars stuck here and there to support, with touches of comedy and romance, a substantially different discourse. The discourse is musical, choreographic, scenographic: Kiss Me Kate brings to the silver-screen the musical score and hit songs from one of Cole Porter’s biggest theatrical successes, Hermes Pan assisted by newcomer Bob Fosse realise numbers of extravagant elegance, and furthermore “the film is shot in 3D, even if almost everyone will see it screened normally, enhancing a scenography that moves between off-stage realism and an almost metaphysical stylisation of the scenery” (Piero Pruzzo). The 3D is, occasionally, the easy effect of a pitcher or a banana thrown towards the audience to break the fourth wall, but it consists also in a more careful use of space compared to other films that will use this new technology: the backstage numbers unfold through narrow hallways, under stairs and in dressing rooms, enhancing the effect of the vanishing perspective. The actors, in turn, are arranged according to a rather vintage sentimental geometry. Howard Keel is the usual lovable hunk with a baritone voice, Kathryn Grayson is a wisp of a thing with her usual undecided-tone voice and, as unexplainable as it may be, the public of the time enjoyed a lot the spectacle of their couplets and embraces; therefore, it seems only natural that the hunk prefer the little wisp, forgetting about the wild filly that is Ann Miller, herself breathless in the number Too Darn Hot, where she sings and slings her legs about for the full benefit of 3D, over tables, stools and bookcases of a magnificent New York apartment made in MGM.
Cast and Credits
F.: Charles Rosher. M.: Ralph E. Winters. Scgf.: Cedric Gibbons, Urie McCleary. Mus.: Cole Porter, Saul Chaplin, André Previn. Kathryn Grayson (Lilli Vanessi ‘Katherine’), Howard Keel (Fred Graham ‘Petruchio’), Ann Miller (Lois Lane ‘Bianca’), Keenan Wynn (Lippy), Bobby Van (‘Gremio’), Tommy Rall (Bill Calhoun ‘Lucentio’), James Whitmore (Slug), Kurt Kasznar (‘Baptista’), Bob Fosse (‘Hortensio’), Ron Randell (Cole Porter), Willard Parker (Tex Callaway), Dave O’Brien (Ralph), Claud Allister (Paul), Ann Codee (Suzanne). Prod.: Jack Cummings per Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp. · DCP. Col.
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