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Kiss Me Kate Review

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Musical stars Fred Graham and Lily Vanessi were once married, but have been through an acrimonious divorce. They are reunited by Cole Porter for a musical version of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, and find it hard to keep their private lives separ

★★★★

If you get the chance, see this in a revival cinema where you can appreciate the eye‑popping 1950s 3‑D effects (not to mention ‘miraculous stereophonic sound’) as showgirls high-kick at the camera and the squabbling romantic leads constantly find excuses to throw things at the audience.

It’s a brash, brassy, colourful filming of Cole Porter's Broadway musical travesty of The Taming of the Shrew, offering Howard Keel (at his very loudest) and Kathryn Grayson opportunities to chew the scenery and belt out the numbers as a bitchily feuding theatrical couple whose private life gets mixed up with their stage show.

The play-within-a-film stuff is clever for the time, though there’s lowbrow comedy from dimwitted gangsters to take the edge of the high-toned artiness. It has some of Porter's wittiest, most intricate patter lyrics ('Brush Up Your Shakespeare', 'I Hate Men') but also unleashes wow-‘em-in-the-stalls show‑stoppers when the impossibly long-legged Ann Miller throws herself into 'Too Darn Hot', Keel laments 'Where is the Life That Late I Led?' and the entire company tears into 'Wunderbar', 'Always True to You Darlin in My Fashion' and 'From This Moment On'. Among the hard-worked supporting singers and dancers are Keenan Wynn (’give her one out of Coriolanus’), Bobby Van, the very limber Carol Haney and choreographers Hermes Pan and Bob Fosse. Director George Sidney acts more like a ringmaster than a visionary: but all the disparate elements – kitsch, class, camp and Shakespeare -- hold together to deliver unbeatable entertainment.

Brash, brassy, colourful filming of Cole Porter's Broadway musical travesty of The Taming of the Shrew