“You saved my life, so you owe me something.”
A pair of on-leave sailors — bashful Clarence (Frank Sinatra) and ladies’ man Joe (Gene Kelly) — both fall for the beautiful singing aunt (Kathryn Grayson) of a young would-be sailor (Dean Stockwell), and promise her an audition with famed conductor Jose Iturbi, despite not really knowing him.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Animated Features
- Dean Stockwell Films
- Frank Sinatra Films
- Gene Kelly Films
- George Sidney Films
- Kathryn Grayson Films
Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary notes that while “Kelly became a big star as the wolf of the navy” in this George Sidney-directed MGM wartime musical, “Sinatra is better as his best friend, a bashful manchild from Brooklyn” who “falls for sweet… Grayson” and “tries to impress her by promising her a singing audition with Jose Iturbi”. He argues that the “flimsy plotline is not helped by timid romantic leads Kelly and Grayson” — but this complaint doesn’t quite hold water, since Kelly and Grayson are justifiably reticent to express their feelings for one another given Sinatra’s initial interest in Grayson (and Kelly’s noble attempt to step out of his way). Meanwhile, Peary asks, “Who cares about a story centered on orchestra conductor Iturbi?”, but this complaint also isn’t quite accurate, given that Iturbi only shows up to contribute some musical numbers, and his presence primarily functions as a plot device.
With that said, I do have some complaints of my own: while Grayson’s romantic timidity makes sense to me, she’s simply not a very nuanced or interesting character (and her singing style is way too dated to appeal to most viewers). Even worse, the film goes on for far too long (2 hours and 20 minutes!), and the storyline really isn’t all that compelling. Its primary calling card — what all viewers immediately think of when they recall the film in their minds — is Kelly’s “celebrated duo with MGM cartoon star Jerry the mouse”, executed to perfection; any film fanatic unfamiliar with this number should immediately check it out on YouTube. In addition, as Peary notes, “Sinatra’s singing (of okay songs by Jules Styne and Sammy Cahn) is silky smooth” and the “MGM Technicolor is gorgeous”. However, while it’s recommended for one-time viewing, this film is only must-see for musical fans and/or devotees of either Kelly or Sinatra.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Frank Sinatra as Clarence Doolittle
- Kelly’s justifiably famous animated dance with Jerry the Mouse
- Kelly and Sinatra’s energetic performance of “I Begged Her”
No, though Kelly’s dance with Jerry is definitely must-see — check it out on YouTube.