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On the Town Reviews

Page 2 of 33
June 18, 2011
(First and only viewing - 6/18/2011)
July 11, 2012
I really wanted to like "On the Town" (1949), I really did. It starred Frank Sinatra, one of the musical idols my whole family looks up to, and Gene Kelly, the main lead of "Singin' in the Rain" (1952), together. It's written by the screenwriters who would later write "Singin' in the Rain" and "The Band Wagon" (1953), two of my favorite musicals of all time. It's got some catchy songs, nice costumes, exceptional dance sequences, and it had all this good stuff going for it. But the story is so painfully awkward, thin, and unintentionally semi-cruel that it utterly ruined the experience for me.

In New York City, three sailors (played by Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, and Jules Munshin) begin their shore leave and set out to explore the town. While on a subway, one of them (Kelly) sees an ad for an aspiring actress named Ivy Smith (Vera-Ellen) and decides that he simply must meet her. As they race around the city to find Ivy, they're assisted by two women (Betty Garrett, Ann Miller) whom the other two sailors become romantically involved with. If this plot doesn't sound good to you on paper, then guess what? The story is even worse on film. Don't get me wrong, I don't doubt that there are real-life sailors out there who'd like to meet female celebrities. All I'm saying is that it's simply impractical for a sailor to go to this much trouble for such a woman, especially if it's only for one day.

Even putting aside the implausibility, the pure coincidences, and the complete lack of realism that a plot of this sort is certain to have, I still felt it was an awkward story all the way through. The main relationship between Gene Kelly and Vera-Ellen is equivalent to long fingernails on a giant blackboard in terms of its stiffness. It doesn't help that most of the love story is focused more on when they'll see each other again as opposed to them actually sharing a connection with one another. Furthermore, what was the point to having the third sailor (Munshin) around and what contributions did he make to the plot advancement? Not only is this character completely mediocre, but his girlfriend technically contributes more to the plot than he does. What's up with that?!

Okay, I should refrain from talking about the story and instead talk about the good aspects of this film. The songs, though they mostly repeat the same rhythm over and over again, are beguiling, namely "You're Awful" sung by Frank Sinatra and "On the Town" performed by the six main leads. I particularly admire how the song "You're Awful" progresses throughout. I like how Sinatra starts out with what sounds like an insult towards his love interest and then it becomes a compliment towards her (You're awful - awful nice to be with). Given that this is a musical that obviously depends on its music more than anything else, good tunes are the least that this film can provide audiences and it does exactly that.

The dance numbers aren't bad either, namely the "A Day in New York" dance sequence between Kelly and Vera-Ellen. The way they dominate the area they have to dance in is simply fun to watch. It's not like they're just simply dancing on flat ground either, they have to dance in places where they either have to watch their step or hoist up/climb down a big stair. So that scene pays off pretty well. If "On the Town" had a narrative that was at least tolerable to sit through, maybe it would have had a better chance of working. I give this musical credit for trying to tell a story other than your simple backstage musical plot and whatnot. But based on how much of a mixed bag this film is, it's clear that stories in musicals are still, in the grand scheme of things, a work-in-progress.
December 18, 2013
Simple but amusing story and situations, some funny characters, good dancing but the songs were lacking in their lyrical content and execution.
April 5, 2013
Despite an undeniable amount of cliches and corny dialogue, On The Town is a fun and lively musical with memorable songs and creative choreography.
Movie Matthew 101
December 15, 2012
One of the truly remarkable entries into the Golden Age of Hollywood, On the Town is magnificent; wonderfully acted, choreographed and sung. Not only is the story witty and comically endorsing, but it's also a splendid canvas of Technicolor exploded onto the backdrop of 1940's New York. The girls are also wonderful in roles that make them thoroughly shine. On the Town, a remarkably enjoyable but thoroughly campy feat, is not to be missed.
April 12, 2013
Highly enjoyable musical with great performances throughout.
January 18, 2013
It was good fun but a bit corny.
December 30, 2012
Directed by Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen, this was their directorial debut after enjoying success with MGM, Kelly going through the ranks from dancer to actor, and Donen as choreographer. MGM gave them a shot with this one, but Kelly and Donen wanted to film as much of it on location in New York as possible. MGM were against it, but let them, it would work. and it's a light and bubbly travellogue of New York. It begins at 6am, when sailors Gabey (Kelly), Chip (Frank Sinatra) and Ozzie (Jules Munshin) are on shore leave in New York, but they only have 24 hours to enjoy it. Gabey falls in love with a picture of "Miss Turnstyles", who is actually aspiring actress Ivy Smith (Vera-Ellen). Meanwhile, Ozzie falls for anthropologist Claire Huddesen (Ann Miller) and Chip falls for tough-talking taxi driver Brunhilde Esterhazy (Betty Garrett), who helped Gabey track down Ivy. Meanwhile, they end up in trouble when they accidentally destroy the skeleton of a dinosaur at the Museum of Anthropological History, and they end up on the run from the police. It's a very entertaining and funny film, with some amazing dance sequences and some imaginative staging, it was ahead of it's time and it was a huge hit. MGM asked Kelly and Donen to make another film immediately, they did Singin' In The Rain (1951), the rest is history.
November 9, 2012
actually it's really2 funny movie :)
September 3, 2012
Good dance sequences and songs blend well together with a good cast and great performances. Although the plot isn't too strong, the musical numbers lift this film out among the best in film musical history.
September 1, 2012
Vera Ellen's character is a "cooch dancer". What more do you need to know?
Honestly though, it's pretty hard not getting caught up in the naive fun of 'On the Town', which is definitely one of those films they just don't make em like anymore. The songs aren't particularly memorable beyond the catchy opening number but this movie really shines with its dancing in no doubt thanks to Gene Kelly's co-direction.
July 24, 2012
One of my all time favorite musicals
July 8, 2012
Stanley Donen's first musical is a foot-tapping, musical comedy that gives all its leads their chance to do their thing. This is one of those musicals that make you happy just because the characters are.

Grade: A-
July 6, 2012
An enjoyable, clean-as-a-whistle, old-timey musical.
May 24, 2012
Historically important, cinematically delightful.
March 29, 2012
Exuberant, nonstop dashing about the streets of New York City while on shore leave, three sailors chase down love in one of the first musicals to use actual location shooting. The three sailors, Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, and Jules Munshin, each have their own idiosyncratic charms, but it's their gal friends who keep the movie from getting stale. Especially Betty Garrett (who'd later go on to play neighbor to both Archie Bunker and Laverne and Shirley), whose super-sexed taxi driver character chases down a poor, bewildered Frank Sinatra (and he just wants to see the sights of the city, not get all involved with some wacky dame). There is one particularly memorable song ("New York, New York, it's a wonderful town!"), and some less memorable ones, but they are all pretty entertaining. And that's probably the best way to describe On The Town, not very memorable, but entertaining.
Mr Awesome
Mr Awesome

Super Reviewer

March 29, 2012
Exuberant, nonstop dashing about the streets of New York City while on shore leave, three sailors chase down love in one of the first musicals to use actual location shooting. The three sailors, Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, and Jules Munshin, each have their own idiosyncratic charms, but it's their gal friends who keep the movie from getting stale. Especially Betty Garrett (who'd later go on to play neighbor to both Archie Bunker and Laverne and Shirley), whose super-sexed taxi driver character chases down a poor, bewildered Frank Sinatra (and he just wants to see the sights of the city, not get all involved with some wacky dame). There is one particularly memorable song ("New York, New York, it's a wonderful town!"), and some less memorable ones, but they are all pretty entertaining. And that's probably the best way to describe On The Town, not very memorable, but entertaining.
February 19, 2012
What can I say, I suddenly discovered I have a thing for old films!
July 4, 2007
This wonderful little musical tends to be overlooked in favour of the big boys (Singin' in the Rain, The Sound of Music, Grease etc), which is a shame because it's a real gem and my personal favourite of the genre. Sure, it's not as flamboyant and expansive as the later big budget "Golden Age" flicks, and I'll admit that nostalgia is a big factor here, but it's just so damn charming and uplifting that I can watch it over and over without the experience becoming stale. The cast and characters are great, the musical numbers are varied and memorable, it's funny, romantic, wild and full of life.
Adrian B.
January 29, 2012
Loveable numbers, loveable characters. That's what makes a musical.
Page 2 of 33
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