Living in a Big Way

Overview

Despite MGM's insistence that star Gene Kelly, just returning from military service in 1947, appear exclusively in big-budget Technicolor musicals, maverick director Gregory La Cava showcased Kelly in the modest black and white tunefest Living in a Big Way. Kelly is cast as an ex-GI who discovers that his wealthy war bride Marie McDonald is an insufferable snob. Flying in the face of his in-laws, Kelly insists upon using his wife's money to open a charity home for the families of those soldiers who didn't come ...
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Overview

Despite MGM's insistence that star Gene Kelly, just returning from military service in 1947, appear exclusively in big-budget Technicolor musicals, maverick director Gregory La Cava showcased Kelly in the modest black and white tunefest Living in a Big Way. Kelly is cast as an ex-GI who discovers that his wealthy war bride Marie McDonald is an insufferable snob. Flying in the face of his in-laws, Kelly insists upon using his wife's money to open a charity home for the families of those soldiers who didn't come back. Kelly's major musical number, which takes place during the building of his dream home, is a bizarre ballet utilizing such props as ladders and two-by-fours. Living In a Big Way turned out to be the flop that MGM had predicted, but the film was impressive enough to win La Cava the coveted directorial post for Mary Pickford Productions' One Touch of Venus.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
While Living in a Big Way was a big flop upon its release, and while it will never rank among Gene Kelly's best films, it actually is a diverting little mini-musical, certainly flawed but just as certainly containing a number of very good things. Among those very good things are the musical numbers, inserted well into production when it was decided that Big should be a musical rather than a straight comedy. These numbers, which include a very fine sequence with Kelly and a dog and an excellent one involving the star with children, are definite highlights that are sure to be appreciated by musical fans. Unfortunately, the numbers don't work so terribly well in the context of the film itself; a musical isn't something that can be thrown together willy-nilly. Things have to be structured just so, with the numbers serving very specific functions. The fitting in of musical numbers can be either by very conscious design or by intuition (or in some rare cases by sheer luck), but Big misses out in this department, and so you're left with something that's not really a musical and not just a regular comedy either. You're also left with a beautiful but dull and frequently annoying leading lady in Marie McDonald; worse, the story ends with Kelly and McDonald together, but there's greater chemistry between Kelly and Phyllis Thaxter, and so viewers feel cheated that they don't end up as a couple. In addition to showing off his singing and dancing, Kelly also gets to demonstrate his fine comedic sense, and Thaxter is quite good as well. The supporting cast, especially Charles Winninger, Spring Byington and Jean Adair, is great company as well. Great it ain't, but Big is a pleasant entertainment.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 4/19/2012
  • UPC: 883316453506
  • Original Release: 1947
  • Rating:

  • Source: Warner Archives
  • Region Code: 0
  • Aspect Ratio: Academy Aperture (1.37:1)
  • Presentation: Black & White
  • Sound: Dolby Digital Mono
  • Language: English
  • Time: 1:44:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 37,346

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Gene Kelly Leo Gogarty
Marie McDonald Margaud Morgan
Charles Winninger D. Rutherford Morgan
Phyllis Thaxter Peggy Randall
Spring Byington Mrs. Morgan
Jean Adair Abigail Morgan
Clinton Sundberg Everett Hanover Smythe
John Warburton Stuart
William "Bill" Phillips Schultz
Bernadene Hayes Dolly
John Alexander Attorney Ambridge
Phyllis Kennedy Annie Pearl
Shelley Winters Bit Part
Technical Credits
Gregory La Cava Director, Original Story, Screenwriter
Pandro S. Berman Producer
Jack Dawn Makeup
Stanley Donen Choreography
William Ferrari Art Director
Cedric Gibbons Art Director
Lennie Hayton Musical Direction/Supervision
Gene Kelly Choreography
Jack D. Moore Set Decoration/Design
Irving Ravetch Screenwriter
Harold Hal Rosson Cinematographer
Irene Sharaff Costumes/Costume Designer
Douglas Shearer Sound/Sound Designer
Ferris Webster Editor
Edwin B. Willis Set Decoration/Design
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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Living in a Big Way
1. Chapter 1 [1:31]
2. Chapter 2 [2:42]
3. Chapter 3 [3:00]
4. Chapter 4 [4:18]
5. Chapter 5 [1:30]
6. Chapter 6 [2:37]
7. Chapter 7 [2:29]
8. Chapter 8 [3:56]
9. Chapter 9 [2:11]
10. Chapter 10 [4:10]
11. Chapter 11 [5:22]
12. Chapter 12 [2:17]
13. Chapter 13 [1:51]
14. Chapter 14 [1:34]
15. Chapter 15 [1:19]
16. Chapter 16 [2:24]
17. Chapter 17 [3:53]
18. Chapter 18 [3:51]
19. Chapter 19 [3:25]
20. Chapter 20 [1:09]
21. Chapter 21 [2:32]
22. Chapter 22 [4:27]
23. Chapter 23 [1:38]
24. Chapter 24 [3:06]
25. Chapter 25 [4:42]
26. Chapter 26 [1:32]
27. Chapter 27 [2:37]
28. Chapter 28 [4:02]
29. Chapter 29 [1:06]
30. Chapter 30 [3:07]
31. Chapter 31 [1:40]
32. Chapter 32 [1:35]
33. Chapter 33 [4:16]
34. Chapter 34 [2:42]
35. Chapter 35 [3:43]
36. Chapter 36 [2:42]
37. Chapter 37 [2:07]
38. Chapter 38 [:23]
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Menu

Disc #1 -- Living in a Big Way
   Play
   Trailer
   Chapters
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