[Last Film I Saw] Anchors Aweigh (1945)

Anchors Aweigh poster

Title: Anchors Aweigh
Year: 1945
Country: USA
Language: English
Genre: Musical, Comedy
Director: George Sidney
Writers:
Isobel Lennart
Natalie Marcin
Cast:
Gene Kelly
Kathryn Grayson
Frank Sinatra
José Iturbi
Dean Stockwell
Pamela Britton
Rags Ragland
Billy Gilbert
Grady Sutton
Sharon McManus
Rating: 7.0/10

I will not thumb my nose’s at the usually stock Hollywood musicals, not with a combo of Sinatra’s mellow show-tunes, Kelly’s choreographic moves and Grayson’s soprano renditions. Although screenwriter Isobel Lennart does not care a damn of the plausibility in the storytelling, but if you can swallow that, ANCHORS AWEIGH might find its comfy niche in overwhelming its contemporary viewers with its blatantly gaily romance and a cornucopia of vaudevillian assortments.

An Oscar BEST PICTURE nominee (5 nominations and 1 win for George Stoll’s music score), directed by versatile and prolific Hollywood journeyman George Sidney, my second film from his filmography after SCARAMOUCHE (1952), ANCHORS AWEIGH runs approximate 140 minutes, collects an ever-high-octane Gene Kelly (it comes as a big surprise that he had earned only one Oscar nomination through his entire career, which is from this film), third-billed from the opening-credit, who however, splendidly embraces his efflorescence by spearheading as a multifaceted showman in transmitting his vigor and life-force into this otherwise average hedonism burlesque, the highlight surely is Kelly’s duo dance with Disney’s Jerry Mouse, a technique pioneers the animation-cum-live-action trend, and it is seamlessly dovetailed with utter originality, to which one can barely imagine how audiences could react during its premier over 70 years ago. And what’s more relevant to present viewers, now we can realize from where the archetype of Jean Dujardin in THE ARTIST (2011) comes and Kelly is much more competent.

Sinatra in his incipient thirties, willowy as ever, his character may be flat and dopey, once he sings, one just wonders how miraculous is his slender figure could hone up to a marvelous instrument and produce that voice! Almost the same can be applied for Grayson only if she could veil her obvious contempt every time being addressed as “Auntie Susan”. Apart from the triad, among the supporting group is a genial Spanish conductor José Iturbi plays himself, his symphony of Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 with a dozen of pianists is a plain grandstanding but also a virtuoso achievement beside the point. And if I haven’t perused the credits, I can never suspect that the young boy is Dean Stockwell, his big screen debut, also for Pamela Britton, unfortunately she doesn’t even has a name in the film and billed as the girl from Brooklyn.

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