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Anchors Aweigh Review

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On shore leave in Hollywood, sailors Joseph Brady and Clarence Doolittle befriend young Donald Abbott and help his movie extra guardian, Susan secure an audition with musical maestro, José Iturbi.

★★★★★

Having demonstrated both his star quality and his choreographic genius on loan to Columbia in Cover Girl (1944), Gene Kelly returned to MGM for this breezy musical and emerged with an Oscar nomination and the reputation as the most exciting new talent on the lot. Producer Joe Pasternak wisely gave Kelly free rein, while he concentrated on showcasing his soprano protégée, Kathryn Grayson. The decision paid double dividends, as not only did it enable Kelly to mature both before and behind the camera, but it also saw the scrawny king of the bobbysoxers, Frank Sinatra, finally fulfil his filmic potential after five indifferent outings.

Kelly upstaged Sinatra in each of their numbers together, notably demonstrating considerably more bounce and brio at the conclusion of `I Begged Her', a comic routine which climaxed with them trampolining along a row of bunks in their dormitory. Just as he would in Take Me Out to the Ball Game and  On the Town (both 1949), Kelly treated Sinatra as a crooning sidekick and Ol' Blue Eyes nursed his resentment for 40 years before exacting his revenge by denying Kelly a cherished role in Robin and the Seven Hoods (1964). Yet, Kelly ensured that Sinatra had a trio of charming ballads by Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne - one of which, `I Fall in Love Too Easily', landed an Oscar nom - and they all slot more easily into the action than Grayson's classical interludes with Iturbi.

 But Kelly undoubtedly kept the best numbers for himself. Unable to resist showboating with kids, he performed `The Mexican Hat Dance' with Sharon McManus and took a swashbuckling tour of MGM to `La Cumparsita!'. However, the indelible moment was his duet with Jerry Mouse in `The King Who Couldn't Dance', a four-minute amalgam of live-action and animation that cost $100,000 and took two months to produce.

A very thin story stretched out for over two hours, this is a melange of the wonderful and the pompous.