It’s Always Fair Weather (1955)

“Can these be the guys I once thought I could never live without?”

Synopsis:
Three wartime buddies (Gene Kelly, Dan Dailey, and Michael Kidd) pledge to meet up ten years later, only to find that they no longer have much in common with each other.

Genres:

Response to Peary’s Review:
Most reviewers now concede that this delightful Stanley Donen musical has been highly underrated over the years — and they’re right! While Peary feels that the film is “surprisingly downbeat”, I was never in doubt that things would work out just fine for these three veterans, or that the ending would be anything but uplifting. Peary argues that the film “doesn’t always work”, but concedes that “it contains many bright ideas” — including the central storyline, which rings all too true: how often have we discovered that old-time friends are no longer people we’d choose to have in our lives? Meanwhile, though Peary disses the “songs by Adolph Green and Betty Comden” as “Broadway rejects”, he does call out several “musical highlights”, including “the three vets dancing with trash-can lids” and “Kelly tapping on roller skates”. Peary ends his review by questioning why we’re never given a chance to see “Kelly and Charisse dance together”; point well-taken. He also notes that viewers, if possible, should “see [the film] in the theater because the directors made special use of Cinemascope, at times dividing the screen into thirds.”

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Gene Kelly as Ted Riley
  • Many wonderful dance sequences
  • Impressive use of split-scene cinematography

Must See?
No, but if you enjoy classic Hollywood musicals and/or Gene Kelly, definitely don’t miss this one.

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2 Responses to “It’s Always Fair Weather (1955)”

  1. A once-must, at least. There are several reasons why film fanatics should find this lesser-known musical of interest:
    a) All nine films featuring the work of Betty Comden and Adolph Green are entertaining. Though their work is usually on the light side, here they are a tad dark in their exploration of “What is friendship?’ That makes this a “problem’ musical, in the sense that it’s tackling somewhat serious subject matter.
    b) Good chemistry between the three leads–their only collaboration. Kidd may be the “weakest’ of the three in the acting dept., but it’s one of the famous choreographer’s few film roles and his most important; Kelly is dependable as ever and his roller skating solo is sublime (the camera captures this w/ limited cuts–compare that to the headache-inducing camerawork of more modern musicals like “Chicago’, when they don’t showcase what dancers can do); Dailey is something of a revelation here, esp. in his stand-out number when he reveals his feelings about marriage/work when drunk.
    c) The underrated (as actress) Cyd Charisse. Here she’s given some of the best lines (“I’m fairly pretty — which is a nuisance.”), shows comic flair, and has the film’s best number, “Baby, You Knock Me Out’.
    d) Dolores Gray, delightful as tv personality Madeline Bradville, a prototypical Comden-Green character–having pizzazz with a capital “P’; always fretful that her broadcast, esp. her “human interest’ stories, will be less-than-great (“I want 40 million people to sit home and cry and love me!”) [Note: In one musical number, Gray sings, “I’ve got a guy who’s Clifton Webb and Marlon Brando combined!”…good Lord, what would THAT be?!]

    The main drag of this otherwise satisfying film is famed conductor Andre Previn’s score. His film work (esp. when supporting lyricists, as in “Inside Daisy Clover’ and–gasp!–“Valley of the Dolls’) tends to be forgettable. Here, since he has Comden and Green, he’s bumped up a notch but, overall, it’s serviceable music that doesn’t stay with you.

  2. Absolutely agree how underrated this film is. It always amazes me how seldom it gets mentioned in discussions of great Hollywood musicals.

    The songs may not be the greatest – but the dance numbers are sensational.

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