Natalie Wood is seen in just about every scene of this charming movie. Sure its a bit slow, but the era of 1957 was pretty slow anyway. A tortured love affair between Kelly and Wood drills down to the real truth of their relationship. Give it credit for that. The ending is what that relationship? was all about.
What helps the film for me in the beginning was the location. Shot initially at a lake resort (and ending there too), with water all around in some of the scenes, it reminds me of better days away from this desert town (Casablanca) I know too well. Later as the film progresses it's in the city, the lights, Broadway, the pressure to be somebody.
Gene Kelly fans, his best dramatic (I think) performance, will love this spring-summer romance, with Kelly the big Broadway hot shot and little Natalie Wood the naive want-to-be star of the stage. While her parents appear early in the film watching over her every move when she dates, the showdown comes when they meet Kelly, a free spirit. They follow Wood all through the film like it should be, even in the worst times.
Kelly early in the film knows better than to keep meeting Wood, he even tells her he should avoid her, but the impulse of infatuation (or continuing the movie) overwhelms him as he crumbles at her presence. But something goes bad between the two and the free spirit Kelly finds his way back to Southwind resort where it all began.
Veteran vaudvillian Ed Wynn (father to Keenan Wynn, if that helps who was in Its a Mad Mad Mad Mad World) makes more than a few appearances as the uncle of young 18 year old Natalie Wood. There are lots of extras that we have all seen before in this film. Too numerous to mention.
Overall, there is so much 1957 era costuming, manners, furniture, drinking, smoking and the rest of that time to make this worth watching. It is a time capsule to say the least.
While too long for many at 2 hours 5 minutes, this color film of a Kelly in his decline and Wood in her ascendance should make one hell of a relationship. Kelly does some tremendous acting toward the last third of the film as a comeback showman who can't stand being a suit (a worker).
This film was rather radical in its day for bringing to the silver screen Jewish traditions and parenting. Much like Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, this was supposedly taboo at the times.
Recommended for romanticists everywhere that enjoy a walk through late 50s filmographies.
A great soundtrack is so haunting and compelling.
A bittersweet romance that we hope no one, especially ourselves, ever goes through.