Kiss Me Kate

Kiss Me Kate

4.3 6
Director: George Sidney

Cast: George Sidney, Kathryn Grayson, Howard Keel, Ann Miller

     
 

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George Sidney's Kiss Me Kate was one of the more successful screen adaptations of Cole Porter's musicals, not surprising, given its appealing cast from top to bottom, the choreography by Hermes Pan and Bob Fosse, and the fact that, for the first time, a movie version of a Porter musical kept most of the score intact (and even added a key number from anotherSee more details below

Overview

George Sidney's Kiss Me Kate was one of the more successful screen adaptations of Cole Porter's musicals, not surprising, given its appealing cast from top to bottom, the choreography by Hermes Pan and Bob Fosse, and the fact that, for the first time, a movie version of a Porter musical kept most of the score intact (and even added a key number from another Porter stage vehicle). The only flaw in the original filming was the decision to shoot in Ansco Color, a German-based color process that was less expensive than Technicolor but didn't hold up well over time and, in fact, also had a tendency to interact with the soundtrack element. Coupled with the poor preservation of the Technicolor prints, Kiss Me Kate did not retain its brightness or luster terribly well into the 1960s. That problem was solved through various restoration efforts over the ensuing decades (including a retrieval and restoration of the 3-D version of the movie), which resulted in a very handsome early '90s laserdisc edition, and now this DVD. The disc isn't loaded up with as many extras as one would have liked -- a full-length commentary track by surviving stars Kathryn Grayson, Howard Keel, Ann Miller, Tommy Rall, and James Whitmore, and perhaps music director Andre Previn, would have been ideal. As it is, there's a ten-minute documentary about the making of the movie, "Cole Porter in Hollywood: Too Darn Hot," produced by Peter Fitzgerald, in which all of those mentioned participate, except for Previn. The recollections are enjoyable and enlightening, especially those by Miller, Rall, and Whitmore, and the short does fill in some gaps. The other major bonus feature is a short documentary entitled "Short Mighty Manhattan, New York's Wonder City," which offers color visions of the city from the end of the 1940s, including glimpses of such lost features as the Third Avenue El, Fifth Avenue as a two-way street, the Metropolitan Museum of Art when admission was free, the old Central Park Zoo (since redesigned to be more animal friendly), and Ann Miller at the Starlight Roof, with Xavier Cugat leading the band. (The documentary also includes outsized praise for Mayor William O'Dwyer, a man so corrupt and such an embarrassment that midway through his term he was appointed ambassador to Mexico in order to get him out of the country and beyond the reach of a subpoena to testify at hearings into his administration.) Some serious restoration work had been done on the movie Kiss Me Kate almost a decade before the Broadway revival of the original show at the end of the 1990s, and it's a bit difficult to complain of the image or sound here. The detail and resolution are good; however, compared to the '90s restored print of the movie, the color doesn't quite hold up overall, especially in the opening sequence of the film. There are still moments of uneven tinting within certain shots during the scenes set in the Graham apartment. The close-ups are a good match for the theatrical presentation, and Ann Miller's "Too Darn Hot" sequence is close, but a proper theatrical showing still has it over this disc, at least for the first 15 minutes. Once the film moves to the theater setting, the tints bloom and fill up somewhat, like dye being poured in, and the rooftop sequence (featuring Tommy Rall's still-awesome dance solo) is gorgeous. When the actual musical-within-the-movie takes to the boards, the whole screen explodes in color. This disc is, in fact, the next best thing to a theatrical showing, capturing the most lustrous sections magnificently, and the sound is the most beautifully mastered in a home viewing version yet. Kiss Me Kate used stereo about as well as any MGM musical, and, in fact, is one of the earliest extant stereo releases by the studio; that element of dimensionality is beautifully represented here, in a dozen vivid musical spots. It all pulls together in Chapter 33, which encompasses the denouement of the musical and the song "From This Moment On," the one major addition to the original theatrical score and one of the most celebrated dance sequences in the history of musical films -- it's even better in 3-D, but until a disc with that attribute comes along, the mastering here on that scene is worth the price by itself. Among the more pleasing bonus options on this disc is the ability to watch the movie with just the music score running -- the producers went back deeply enough into the elements to isolate the Oscar-nominated score by Saul Chaplin and Andre Previn, and it's delightful to hear their work, shorn of dialogue and sound effects for the first time. The only flaw in that plan is that not all of the musical numbers start at the beginnings of the chapters in which they appear, so one has to sit through some silence upon punching up each song title. Other than the placement of the chapter starts, the movie has been treated to a well-designated 36 chapters. The disc opens to a triple-layered menu that is easy to navigate, including a selection of special features that advances automatically at the end of each selection. And the original trailer, which is comprised of what look like alternate takes of many shots, is also included.

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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Lucia Bozzola
Adapted with MGM panache, the screen version of Cole Porter's hit Broadway musical shares all the wit and brightness of the original's showbiz interpretation of Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew, and it added a brief yet pivotal moment in movie musical history. With its score of such Porter classics as "Brush Up Your Shakespeare," "Too Darn Hot," and "So in Love" performed by a top-drawer MGM cast including Howard Keel, Kathryn Grayson, Ann Miller, and Keenan Wynn, Kiss Me Kate was already a can't-miss proposition. In addition, a Porter song lifted from another show became a vital debut for a new choreographer. Among the three short pas de deux in "From This Moment On," young dancer Bob Fosse's self-composed moves with Carol Haney introduced Fosse's innovative, sinuous dance style to movies, preparing the way for his future screen work in The Pajama Game (1957), Sweet Charity (1969), and Cabaret (1972). Although it was shot in 3-D, Kiss Me Kate was released flat, as the technological fad had petered out. It has since been re-released in the original 3-D, taking full advantage of Keel's and Grayson's raucous fights and Miller's seductive scarf.

Product Details

Release Date:
04/22/2003
UPC:
0012569508828
Original Release:
1953
Rating:
NR
Source:
Warner Home Video
Region Code:
1
Sound:
[Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround]
Time:
1:50:00

Special Features

Closed Caption; All-new digital transfer; Soundtrack remastered in Dolby Digital 5.1; Ann Miller hosts Cole Porter in Hollywood: Too Darn Hot; Music only track; Vintage documentary short Mighty Manhattan, New York's Wonder City; Interactive menus; Behind-the-scenes ; Theatrical trailer; Scene access; Subtitles: English, Français & Español

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Kathryn Grayson Lilli Vanessi
Howard Keel Fred Graham
Ann Miller Lois Lane
Keenan Wynn Lippy
Bobby Van Gremio
Tommy Rall Bill Calhoun
James Whitmore Slug
Kurt Kasznar Bianca's Father
Bob Fosse Bianca's suitor
Ron Randell Cole Porter
Willard Parker Tex Callaway
Dave "Tex" O'Brien Ralph
Claud Allister Paul
Ann Codee Suzanne
Carol Haney Specialty Dancer
Jeanne Coyne Specialty Dancer
Mitchell Lewis Stage Doorman
Hermes Pan Specialty Sailor Dance

Technical Credits
George Sidney Director
Saul Chaplin Musical Direction/Supervision
Jack Cummings Producer
Bob Fosse Choreography
Cedric Gibbons Art Director
Dorothy Kingsley Screenwriter
Urie McCleary Art Director
Warren Newcombe Special Effects
Hermes Pan Choreography
Richard A. Pefferle Set Decoration/Design
Walter Plunkett Costumes/Costume Designer
Cole Porter Score Composer
André Previn Score Composer,Musical Direction/Supervision
Charles Rosher Cinematographer
Bella Spewack Screenwriter
Samuel Spewack Screenwriter
Edwin B. Willis Set Decoration/Design
Ralph Winters Editor

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Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Credits [1:34]
2. Civilized Adults [2:40]
3. So in Love [3:38]
4. Too Darn Hot [4:47]
5. Parted Down the Middle [1:55]
6. Bowing Down (Kiss Me, Kate) [3:47]
7. Why Can't You Behave? [4:01]
8. Our Anniversary [2:56]
9. Wunderbar [5:26]
10. Fred's Visitors [2:14]
11. So in Love (Reprise) [1:54]
12. Next to Her Heart [2:02]
13. We Open in Venice [1:41]
14. Shrew's Tale [2:32]
15. Tom, Dick or Harry [4:32]
16. I've Come to Wive It Wealthily in Padua [3:13]
17. Wildcat Wooer [1:42]
18. I Hate Men [3:59]
19. Were Thine That Special Face [4:02]
20. Full Contact [3:24]
21. Not in the Script [2:51]
22. Saying Thank You [1:59]
23. Persuasion [2:33]
24. Captive Bride [1:30]
25. I've Come to Wive It Wealthily in Padua (Reprise) [2:14]
26. Attend Thy Mistress [2:09]
27. Shrew Tamer [1:52]
28. Where Is the Life That Late I Led? [1:40]
29. Cattle Call [4:34]
30. Always True to You in My Fashion [5:18]
31. Getting the Message [4:07]
32. Brush Up Your Shakespeare [3:17]
33. From This Moment On [4:30]
34. Ashamed Women Are So Simple [4:35]
35. Kiss Me, Kate [2:33]
36. Cast List [1:02]

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