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   IT'S ALWAYS FAIR WEATHER (1955) 

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CAST
Gene Kelly
Dan Dailey
Cyd Charisse
Dolores Gray
Michael Kidd
David Burns
Jay C. Flippen

DIRECTED BY
Stanley Donen

PURCHASE


DVD



Soundtrack




Time: 102 mins.
Rating: Not Rated
Genre: Drama/Comedy/Musical

Academy Award nominations for Best Score and Screenplay.


What this film lacks in depth of plot it more than makes up for with fun, stylish and exuberant musical numbers. This is the third film Kelly and Donen made together and they clearly knew how to turn their prodigious talents into a highly enjoyable cinema experience. The story centers around three army buddies just returned from the front who believe their friendship will last now that they're back on American soil. Tim, the bartender at their new hangout vehemently disagrees. He has years of experience behind his claims. To prove him wrong, they make a pact to meet there in 10 years to show Tim how nothing has changed between them. Of course, if they were still friends, we wouldn't have a movie.

Time and life turns them into men more or less discontented with what they've become. Ted (Kelly) is a low-rent boxing manager lacking in love and high morals; Doug (Dailey) is a successful businessman whose marriage is slowly unraveling; and Angie (Kidd) is happily married but his greasy diner isn't exactly the restaurant of his dreams. Their initial enthusiasm at reconnecting with the past is quickly tarnished by the truth of what they've become – complete and utter strangers. They go out to lunch and try to capture the joy of each other's company, but the meal is painfully awkward as they watch their youthful dreams finally turn to dust. They each internally resolve to never see each other again, but fate (i.e. the plot) has other plans.

The story of their reunion reaches the ears of a local television show whose popularity centers around a weekly segment that showcases a real life, feel good story. The lovely, yet iron-fisted host Madelaine (Gray) wants to share the fellows touching tale of friendship with the nation and entrusts Jackie (Charisse) with the task of getting them to the studio. Convincing Doug and Angie to attend is no problem, but Ted is a different matter. Though Jackie has no qualms about using her feminine wiles against him, he turns out to be quite an expert in the game of love. In the hours before show time, Doug and Ted are forced to make decisions about what they really want out of life and their choices cause a bit of havoc in their current social circles. Their new outlooks don't change the fact that they're no longer friends, but it doesn't stop them from banding together and taking down Ted's enemies in one finale, fist-flying hurrah.


"Sure, I'm in danger. I'm in danger of believing that look on your face."

What sets this musical apart from almost all of its' counterparts is the bittersweet tone of the story. It begins happily enough with our exuberant compatriots frolicking around the streets of New York in a dance number that without a doubt inspired the creators of STOMP. Their enthusiasm is so electric that it would make their ensuing incompatibility unbelievable, if not for the audiences own life experiences. We have all made friendships we thought would never end, yet all look at photos from our past and wonder what we ever had in common with the strangers populating our pictures. Their honest disappointment – and the two split screen musical numbers that illuminate their thoughts and emotions – grounds this film in reality, a true rarity in the genre. Their sarcasm and bitterness give the songs and story bite, giving the film a more modern sensibility. The choreography has a simple, yet stylish flair filled with class and whimsy. As a straight comedy, FAIR WEATHER would be painfully weak and silly.

It's the unique vision of Kelly and Donen that makes it one to watch out for. Kelly's fluid, yet athletic hoofing is a visual treat, especially as he dances on roller skates through the streets of New York. The male trio's tap-dancing split screen number is also a true showstopper. Even Charisse gets her moment to shine in a number at a boxing gym (Baby, You Knock Me Out) that's merely plot filler, but showcases her talent as a dancer beautifully. It's totally outrageous, yet loads of fun with Charisse and a gang of burly boxers performing a song that will joyfully rattle around in your head for days. I understand that Dolores Gray was a big singing star at the time, but her two numbers only slow the film down since they have nothing to do with the main story. Her show is a mere plot device to give the film somewhere to go and her part is mostly unnecessary. They should have used her time for more lovemaking between Kelly and Charisse. As the final credits role the only thing you'll remember about this film are the musical numbers, which is, after all the point. A must-see for Kelly fans or those just looking for a little mindless, fun entertainment.

VIEWING NOTE: Please, please, please, see the letterboxed version of this movie. Kelly and Donen use every inch of the screen and denying yourself their full vision will ruin the best part of this experience, the musical numbers.



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