On the Town Review

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Three sailors are let loose on 24 hour shore leave in the Big apple and find themselves three dancin' dolls to paint the town red with.


The first time Gene Kelly, although working with Stanley Donen, got to choreograph and direct a movie is a magnificent old-time musical, bubbling with Leonard Bernstein tunes, with a little help from Roger Edens. Better still is the way Kelly absorbs such great songs into city filling dance numbers, mad and elegant and genius all at the same time. The resulting film is suffused with charm and thrill, pure therapy in a shuffle of deck shoes and sailor duds.

The plot is simple, which helps, just the tale told over one night of three jovial, and rather benign, sailors, Gabey (Gene Kelly), Chip (Frank Sinatra), and Ozzie (Jules Munshin), hitting the streets of the Big Apple on shore leave. Their excitement is nearly unbound, hence they keep breaking into song, especially as each will find their own love match (these guys are quick movers). Their land lubbing females matches are less memorable: pin-up glamour girl Vera-Ellen, spunky cabbie Berry Garrett and museum boffin Ann Miller, caught in the glare of their leading men.

Sinatra was never as much of a dancer as he was crooner, and he’s shown up by the balletic grace of Kelly and the Broadway-honed licks of Munshin, but as a trio they sparkle, variations on their well-written personas (at least for the famous two) rather than developed characters. With songs like these, and sets lit up like theme parks, there was really no need for anything else.

Delightful, athletic stuff with some unusual - but wonderful - location shooting. New York never looked better.