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   ANCHORS AWEIGH (1945) 

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CAST
Gene Kelly
Frank Sinatra
Kathryn Grayson
Dean Stockwell
Jose Iturbi
Pamela Britton
Rags Ragland
Henry O'Neill
Carlos Ramirez

DIRECTED BY
George Sidney

PURCHASE


DVD



Soundtrack



About His Life




Time: 143 mins.
Rating: Not Rated
Genre: Comedy/Musical/Romance

Won Academy Award for Best Score. Nominations for Best Actor (Kelly), Cinematography, Song and Best Picture.


In the first of three lively onscreen pairings, Kelly and Sinatra are highly entertaining as two love-starved soldiers on leave in Hollywood. This is Sinatra's first singing and dancing affair, though he had already began making a big name for himself with his silky smooth voice. Much like his character – a neophyte in the ways of romance – Sinatra was given much training in how to hoof on film by the more physically gifted Kelly. While Sinatra does a pretty good job dancing, he's in the picture for comic relief and his ability to belt out a song like nobody's business, both of which he does quite well. Their comic chemistry more than makes up for the rather silly plot which places these lonesome lotharios in many funny, but wholly unbelievable situations.

Sinatra plays Clarence a.k.a. "Brooklyn", a naive sailor who looks up to Joe (Kelly), a well-known (at least in the Navy) ladies man. He refuses to leave Joe alone to pursue his latest lady, the lovely Lola, until Joe helps him find a nice dame to spend some time with. Clarence's sweet, uncomplicated nature doesn't give Joe much hope, but he won't get rid of him if he doesn't at least try. Their plans for romance are rudely interrupted before they can even begin by the police.

It seems they have a young boy Donald (Stockwell) at the station that has run away from home because he wants to join the Navy and refuses to tell the police his name or address. They "enlist" the help of our heroes to convice him to return home. With his babysitter gone, Joe and Clarence are forced to wait until Donald's aunt returns home. Susie's (Grayson) not only surprised to find two strange sailors in her living room, but also to get an earful from Joe about her failure as a guardian to Donald.


"What's the sense of having your life saved if you can't have any fun with it?"

The misunderstanding is settled almost as quickly as Clarence falls for the lovely, aspiring singer. Joe's thrilled to finally get Clarence off his hands, so he can finally pursue Lola, however, hooking up with her is not meant to be. In order to encourage Susie to like Clarence, Joe tells her Clarence can get her an audition with the famous conductor Jose Iturbi, which is a dream come true for Susie. Unfortunately, things get rather complicated since Clarence doesn't really know Iturbi. He's also so frightened of being alone with someone as classy as Susie that he sabotages Joe's efforts to meet up with Lola, forcing him to tag along on their dates.

Between all their machinations to set-up the audition, Joe realizes he's beginning to develop feelings for Susie, while Clarence finds himself falling in love with a waitress from Brooklyn (Britton) with whom he has more in common. Everyone hides their true feelings – Clarence for his waitress, Joe for Susie and Susie for Joe – to protect their friendships. Joe attempts to hide behind his wolfish reputation, but it's clear to everyone he's a decent and caring man underneath the carefree facade. Susie does finally get her audition, but not in the way one expects. She also winds up in the arms of the man she loves. One guess who that turns out to be. Don't worry Clarence ends up very happy as well.

What makes this a musical to see is not the romance, but the relationship between Kelly and Sinatra. They are clearly so comfortable playing off one another it's no wonder they made several more films together. While the film focuses on their foibles it's energetic and great fun, when it turns to love and the ladies it turns sappy and slow. Grayson has a beautiful, operatic voice, which is lovely to listen to, but stops the film dead since her songs are all performed standing still. These sequences are a vast contrast to the peppy, dynamic dance numbers created by Kelly, especially the most famous one where he performs with Jerry the Mouse. He wanted to dance with Mickey Mouse, but Walt Disney refused to allow his most famous character to appear in a film for another studio. The most amazing part of this live-action/animated sequence is how brilliant and believable it is some 40-plus years before ROGER RABBIT made such a big splash doing the same exact thing.

I'm sure it's that sequence which compels most people to watch this movie, but believe me this film includes plenty of other wonderful musical numbers that are equally as entertaining. When you have talent like Sinatra and Kelly you usually get what you pay for. I would have given this film 4 stars; however it's just way too long for a musical that has such a silly plot. A little tightening would have made the slower moments more enjoyable and the plot holes less evident. As it stands, ANCHORS AWEIGH is a classic cinema experience all film lovers should indulge in at least once, if only to hear Frank sing and see Gene dance. It rarely gets better than that.


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