Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, March 8, 2018


Michael Kidd, Dan Dailey and Gene Kelly
IT'S ALWAYS FAIR WEATHER (1955). Directors: Stanley Donen; Gene Kelly.

Three men who were buddies in the army have many drinks at the end of the war and vow to meet in ten years' time at their favorite bar in Manhattan. Now, you might wonder, if they were such good friends, they would certainly have stayed in touch for the past decade, but apparently they haven't, so when they each keep the appointment they discover that they have little in common and don't even like each other very much (surely they could have talked about wartime experiences, at least?). Angie (Michael Kidd), who planned on becoming a great chef, is married, has several kids, and runs a hamburger joint in Schenectady. Doug (Dan Dailey of There's No Business Like Show Business), who'd wanted to become a famous artist, does work on TV shows that sell detergent, and is on the verge of divorce. Ted (Gene Kelly), who figured on a legal career, is now an unmarried manager for a boxer who is planning to take a dive. The ladies in the story include Jackie, (the gorgeous, leggy Cyd Charisse), who works on one of Ted's TV shows; and Madeline (Delores Gray), the star of said show. The gals hope to get the former soldiers on the program as a surprise, unaware that they now actively dislike each other. And some hoods who fixed the fight are out to get even with Ted.

Filmed in startling CinemaScope and color and photographed by Robert Bronner, It's Always Fair Weather presents a striking sound stage Manhattan that is prominently featured in two sequences: when the boys dance under the elevated subway, each wearing a garbage can lid on one foot; and when Kelly does an absolutely smashing dance on roller skates, and even winds up tap dancing while still wearing them ("I Like Myself"). Cyd Charisse [The Unfinished Dance] is featured in a production number in which she dances with flat-faced pugilists in a gym, and Delores Gray gets a chance to shine when she sings and dances to "Thanks, But No Thanks" with a dozen chorus boys. The songs were composed by Andre Previn [The Kissing Bandit] -- the lyrics were provided by Comden and Green -- and are pleasant enough, with "Friends Forever" emerging the prettiest number. The performances by the entire cast are excellent. Michael Kidd appeared in a few films, such as Smile, but was primarily a well-regarded choreographer [Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.]

Verdict: A small degree of pathos counteracts the silliness and Kelly's dancing is simply sensational. ***.


angelman66 said...

I'm a huge Gene Kelly fan, so I need to see this one again soon. I always love when he is paired with Cyd Charisse. As I remember, all the supporting cast are equally sparkling...

William said...

This is true. I have acquired a new appreciation of Kelly, whom I never liked that much, but he is not only a superb dancer but a very good actor as well.