SUtS: Kathryn Grayson

Carrie’s choice: Anchors Aweigh (1945)

Airing at 12:00PM EST

I AM SO EXCITED. It’s Kathryn Grayson day. Hello, DVR.  I adore her movies. That’s all there is to it. Make sure you read Brandie’s comments below because it was hard for me to decide what to watch. Just set your DVR and watch all of them.

Sigh.

That said, I adore the movie I’m recommending today, Anchors Aweigh.

It’s one of my favourites ever, even though I didn’t see it for the first time until a few months ago. I was more familiar with Kiss Me Kate, so it was odd seeing Kathryn Grayson without the blond hair. Or as nice like this character “Aunt Susie.”  Kate teams up with the brilliant Gene and Frank in a really fun comedy not unlike On the Town (which I’ve loved for years). So, this was a really easy sell for me. It’s a musical (obviously) about two sailors, one a “wolf” who is great with the ladies and the other wanting to be good with the ladies. Grayson plays Aunt Susie, raising her nephew who wants to be in the Navy, and thus is the catalyst for meeting the two sailors. While raising her nephew, she is trying to become a singer on stage and film. Sinatra falls in love with her, and let’s just say hilarity ensues.

This is the film that has the classic scene with Gene Kelly and Jerry the Mouse, shifting the obligatory dream sequence from a sound stage to animation cross-over (think Who Framed Roger Rabbit?).

Grayson adds her operatic singing style in several capacities, including a Latin-style flair. Although she’s fantastic with attitude, she pulls off the shy, somewhat naive, yet determined aspiring star quite beautifully, which says a great deal about her acting talents. It all combines to create a fun, star-studded (to be cliche) movie that is simply a must-see. It’s also available on DVD and in a Kelly/Sinatra Collection that I will review eventually…

Love this one… strongly recommend it. Enjoy!

Brandie’s choice: Kiss Me Kate (1953)

Airing at 2:00AM EST

When it comes to adaptations of Shakespeare’s work, you definitely have your hits and your misses. Sometimes, the straight performances are really well done (1993’s Much Ado About Nothing; both Laurence Olivier’s 1948 version AND Kenneth Branagh’s 1996 version of Hamlet, despite Olivier’s revisions of the original text); in some cases, they are decidedly not (1999’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which suffers from piss-poor casting; the horrendous 1996 Baz Luhrmann version of Romeo+Juliet). And some of the loose adaptations are really fun–I am particularly fond of 1991’s My Own Private Idaho, which is loosely based on Henry IV, Part I, and I will always have a soft spot in my heart for 1999’s 10 Things I Hate About You.

As with 10 Things, my recommendation for today, the delightful musical Kiss Me Kate, takes its cue from Shakespeare’s play The Taming of the Shrew, one of the Bard’s more enjoyable comedies. Now, the movie version of Cole Porter’s naughty musical has been cleaned up quite a bit (Hays office … grr), but the results are still enjoyable.

In the movie, Grayson plays Lilli, an actress who was previously married to Fred (Howard Keel, delightfully bombastic as always). The bickering couple must put aside their differences to co-star as Katherine and Petruchio in a musical production of The Taming of the Shrew (in a moment of meta-fantastic glory, the musical is called … Kiss Me Kate). But things are made even more complicated by the interference of a sexy dancer, Lois Lane (played by a phenomenal Ann Miller) and Lilli’s new fiance, a Texas rancher named, appropriately, Tex. In the midst of all the on- and off-stage drama, two enforcers arrive to receive payment for a gambling debt that has been erroneously assigned to Fred. The typical hi-jinks ensue.

Grayson plays the “shrew” with an underlying vulnerability that makes Lilli an endearing, albeit admittedly bitchy, character (perhaps that’s why I like Lilli so much …?). The combination with Keel is killer, and Miller, always underrated, is wonderful as Lois. Plus, look for choreographer extraordinaire Bob Fosse in a brief dancing cameo near the end of the film.

Overall, the movie, for all its latent sexism (which I try very hard to ignore so I can still enjoy this film … damn you, graduate school, for making me overanalyze every little thing), is still an enjoyable musical romp, with some awesome Porter tunes. Definitely worth a viewing (or three)!

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One thought on “SUtS: Kathryn Grayson

  1. I love Kiss Me Kate! Howard Keel is wonderful, Kathryn Grayson is excellant and I love the great supporting cast that includes Tommy Rall (Frank from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers) who plays Lois’s boyfriend Bill Calhoun and the enforcerers played by Keenan Wynn (Annie Get Your Gun and the original Absent Minded Professor movies) and James Whitmore (Brooks from the Shawshank Redemption). I especially love the enforcers’ song “Brush Up Your Shakespeare”. Another bit of trivia about this movie is that it was shot with in 3D (which is why the cast occasionally throws things at the cameras).

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