On the Town - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

On the Town Reviews

Page 1 of 33
June 17, 2016
"On the Town" is little more than a Technicolor stacking of peppy fever dreams, but it's good at being escapist and is even better at convincing us that its sheer unreality is reality, through charm alone. One of the greatest musicals ever made, it stars Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, and Jules Munshin as Gabey, Chip, and Ozzie, a trio of sailors on shore leave for a short twenty-four hours in New York, New York. Wanting to see as many sights as they can before reporting back to duty, a fleeting, perhaps even eventually long-lasting, romance is the only thing that could make their all too brief vacation of sorts really worth something.
For all three to get gorgeous girls and get their respective fantasies worth of cultural consumption only leads to barely-there practicality - cinematic inevitability is more like it - but because the film's songs, dances, and scrumptious assemblage of dialogue (adapted from stage to screen by Betty Comden and Adolph Green) are more important than any plot line could ever be, and because directors Kelly and Stanley Donen ensure that the film is knowingly light instead of merely opportunistic, "On the Town" is colorful diversion that manages to refrain from obvious manipulation.
Or, at least, the movie is adept at keeping its manipulations subtle. Gabey, Chip, and Ozzie, despite personalities and looks more goofy than romantically magnetic, pick up three girls in no time. Gabey takes interest in Ivy (Vera-Ellen), whom he notices on an ad proudly displayed on the subway (which promptly causes the gang to desperately [and somehow] find her. Chip immediately finds mutual affection with Hildy (Betty Garrett), a brassy cab driver, and Ozzie hooks up with Claire (Ann Miller), an anthropologist with a heart of gold.
"On the Town" delightfully covers their misadventures around the city, a favorite coming in the form of a late-in-the-film car chase in which Hildy hardly even breaks a sweat throughout her white knuckle madness. The soundtrack that comes along with the screwball antics, of course, is nothing less than sensational: the legendary introductory number, "New York, New York," is an instantaneously unforgettable anthem, and energetic showcases like the titular "On the Town" sequence and the Ann Miller headed, comedically tinged "Prehistoric Man" are fine exemplifications of the film's dashing relationship between comedy, song, and star power. The "A Day in New York" succession and the Vera-Ellen starring "Miss Turnstiles Ballet" are exceptionally placed dance spectaculars that boast the athleticism of the movie's leading actors.
But I can't scrutinize "On the Town" too closely - it's cheery (though sneakily artistically extraordinary) entertainment meant to be experienced, not talked about with punishing lengthiness. Seeing (and hearing) is believing, and "On the Town" looks and sounds terrific enough to solidify it as one of the movie musical's finest achievements.
April 4, 2016
"On the Town" is a film adaptation of the classic Bernstein musical. This adaptation was subsequently boycotted by Bernstein as the majority of his operatic songs were replaced with Hollywood rewrites. While this rating is based solely on the quality of the film, I do think that it was a pretty sleazy move by MGM to keep the story but rewrite the music. One of the only songs that were preserved from the stage show is "New York, New York" (not the Sinatra version that you are thinking of). Coincidentally, it is the best song in the film and perhaps some of Bernstein's other pieces would have also been well-received if left in the score. As a film viewed without relationship to its stage version, "On the Town" is very entertaining. When you put together the likes of Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Jules Munshin, Ann Miller, Betty Garrett, and Vera-Ellen, a high-energy song-and-dance extravaganza is inevitable. Much of the story is farfetched but the dance numbers keep us interested while the vocalists steal our hearts. The cute insult-turned-compliment one-liners of "You're Awful" are a highlight, as are the tap numbers and the superb "Comedy in Three Acts" ballet sequence that retells the story through dance. "On the Town" falls short of the classic film musicals ("Singing in the Rain," "Oklahoma," "Little Shop"), but it is nice to take a break from the same old shows and remember what it is like to watch a show without knowing all of the lyrics.
April 1, 2016
Gene Kelly, Vera-Ellen, and Ann Miller again showed that they were super dancers, Frank Sinatra exhibited his unequaled singing ability,and Jules Munshin showed that he was a nut. The storyline was simple: three sailors were on a twenty-four-hour pass in New York, (though most of the movie was filmed in Los Angeles), and each made the best of it by finding a female companion and touring the city. While Betty Comden and Adolph Green let the public know via this classic that they were adept at writing screenplays, the movie lacked good acting, though the music was entertaining. I personally liked the songs "New York, New York", "On the Town", and, my favorite, the dance number "A Day In New York". To reiterate, the acting was bland, the story was passable, but the music was great; in fact, the music made it worth the while.
March 5, 2016
MGM's dazzling Technicolor adaptation of the Broadway musical, minus most of Bernstein's score; for once, the new songs work just fine and the on-site locales are an added plus.
December 8, 2015
New York, New York, it's a wonderful town.

Three Navy officers are dropped off in Manhattan for one day of shore leave. The men want to avoid women and see the city, but love and girls fall in their laps no matter where they go. Will the men come and go like they have so many other ports, or will New York hold a special place in their hearts?

"You can milk me dry."

Stanley Donen (Charade, Blame it on Rio, and Funny Face) and Gene Kelly (Singin in the Rain, Gigot, and On the Town) collaborate to deliver On the Town. The storyline for this picture is just okay and the musical numbers were average. The acting was first rate and the script is solid. The cast includes Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly, Jules Munshin, Betty Garrett, Ann Miller, and Alice Pearce.

"She's a frail, flower like creature."

A large number of Frank Sinatra pictures were recently added to the online Netflix queue and I had to add of them to my wish list. This wasn't as good as other Sinatra gems, but it was entertaining and fun. Some sequences were better than others, but this is a must see for classic genre fans.

"I know you'd come back. They all come back."

Grade: C+/B-
Super Reviewer
November 23, 2015
Once you've become more familiar with the original stage production and it's score this film adaption seems less like a classic and more like a missed opportunity. It's fun and the cast has some truly terrific performers but the removal of most of Bernstein's original music in favor of mostly lackluster songs is frustrating.
½ November 11, 2015
Three sailors have only 24 hrs in New York. Plenty of time to see the sights, get the girls, and sing the songs. This Gene Kelly/Frank Sinatra film is a top notch super sexy musical romp that'll fill your heart and move your feet. And, hey, it's Veteran's Day, so it even fits the theme.
October 13, 2015
Light, fun musical. Don't know why they chose the same theme with their first movie but sailors' pants are too tight
½ August 4, 2015
Some great songs, great singing and dancing. The plot is pretty weak and silly, and there are some moments when it just stops all together to showcase Gene Kelly's dancing, which is fantastic, but I prefer musicals to have the musical number more relevant to the story. Overall, this is an enjoyable, if not perfect musical.
July 26, 2015
As with many musicals of the '40's, the storyline is a bit corny, but the music and dancing are fantastic. You can't beat Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly. The only thing I dislike is the slightly offensive "Prehistoric Man" song and some of the lyrics in others.
½ May 16, 2015
Bien sûr, Un Jour à New York est aujourd'hui aussi ringard qu'Elton John, mais le film coréalisé par Stanley Donen et Gene Kelly est si énergique, divertissant et impressionnant dans ses chorégraphies extrêmement sportives que les amateurs de claquettes ne peuvent bouder leur plaisir devant un tel cadeau. Concis, témoin d'une époque révolue (les féministes grinceraient des dents devant de tels personnages féminins), peuplé d'excellents acteurs comme Gene Kelly ou Frank Sinatra et surtout parfaitement bien mis en musique, Un Jour à New York est un plaisir constant pour les fans et seulement pour les fans.
March 1, 2015
One of the best American musicals. Light story; lots of fun!
January 9, 2015
First saw bits of this on Astro' Turner Classic Movies years ago, and later went and got meself the dvd, thanks to Frank Sinatra looking so boyish! An enjoyable musical, with some nice tunes. The lady cab driver's flirtiness was funny, and reminded me a bit of myself, lol! Gene Kelly's Gabey was the likeable one when I watched it today, along with his Miss Turnstiles :)
½ October 5, 2014
I couldn't help humming 'Springfield, Springfield it's a helluvatown!' while watching this, enjoyable but not top-notch, MGM musical. Average tunes but visually beautiful sequences.
August 2, 2014
(First and only viewing - 6/18/2011)
December 31, 2013
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.
December 13, 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.
November 30, 2013
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.
November 25, 2013
If only I can re enact these scenes as they happened. Wow wow wow
Page 1 of 33