Fred and Lilly are a divorced pair of actors who are brought together by Cole Porter who has written a musical version of The Taming of the Shrew. Of course, the couple seem to act a great deal like the characters they pla... more »y. A fight on the opening night threatens the production, as well as two thugs who have the mistaken idea that Fred owes their boss money and insist on staying next to him all night.« less
"After seeing this movie for the first time since its 3D release in 1953, it makes one wonder why MGM insists on holding up "Singin' in the Rain" (a great treat in itself) as its best musical. KISS ME KATE is simply amazing -- tight, funny, fast, colorful, full of the dry wit and wisdom of Cole Porter, and gloriously "musical". To the crew's credit, many lines are straight from Shakespeare's original and the cast's readings are as adroit as any from Old Vic, anywhere, any time. Hermes Pan's and Bob Fosse's dance numbers are so sizzling good you can't take your eyes off the performance. It's a must-have for dance fans. For comedy fans, the offstage antics that mirror the onstage situations are a fiendishly clever conceit. Only one regret: the original 3D photography was terrific, with perhaps the most brilliant color work of 50's vintage. It's a bit subdued in modern prints. But don't let that deter you from enjoying this lively, literate, nearly perfect gem. Others have mentioned some of the more famous musical bits, but pay attention to Howard Keel's brilliant comedic reading of "The Life That Once I Led" (which drew gleeful applause when I saw it in a New York cinema recently), and Miss Grayson's rendition of "I Hate Men", copied by every lady who's tried it since 1953. Ann Miller's dance numbers are easily her very best work, by far -- and her "Too Darn Hot" was, at the time, almost too darn hot. Add veteran George Sindey's directorial expertise (The Harvey Girls, Scaramouche, etc.) and Shakespeare's own genius, and this becomes *THE* show for people who say they don't like musicals!"
Absolutely fantastic musical, deplorable DVD case
Leif Sheppard | United States | 03/23/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'm giving this item five stars simply because the disc itself is grand - you receive one of the greatest MGM musicals ever conceived and it's bolstered by quite nice extras. That much you can be assured of.
I'm writing this particular review because of Warner Bros. insistance on using fragile, cheaply made cardboard sleeves rather than the standard plastic dvd cases.
The problem with these Warner cases is that the pins holding the disc can break if even the slightest pressure is applied to the case, rendering it's capability the actually hold the disc useless. And unlike the plastic cases, the Warner ones cannot be replaced save for returning the disc to the original purchase place or attempting to contact the manufacturer (good luck with that, by the way).
Another problem lies with the fact that it's made out of cardboard - when you remove the anti-theft stickers almost invariably the sticker will peel some of the artwork off the cover. This can occur even when you're carefully attempting to slowly peel the sticker off.
The reason I feel the need to mention this is I own dozens of Warner movies, and well over half of them are damaged in this manner and irreplaceable outside of purchasing a new one (not likely, Greedy Bros.)
To be fair, Warner has finally began producing plastic cases with some of their newest releases - the top-notch Film Noir and Gangster collections offer the films in splendid little plastic cases. But titles like "Kiss Me Kate", "Rebel Without A Cause", "Broadway Melody of 1940", and even "Wizard of Oz" are still only available in these sad cardboard cases.
DULL LOOKING TRANSFER NEEDS SOME TAMING
Nix Pix | Windsor, Ontario, Canada | 04/22/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
""Kiss Me Kate" is Cole Porter's charming update of Shakespeare's "Taming of the Shrew". It stars Kathryn Grayson as Lily Vanessi, a hyper-sensative diva of the stage who stars opposite her ex-husband (Howard Keel) and his new lover (Ann Miller). On their way to a hit show, the three repeatedly bump heads and egos, ultimately finding true love. Porter's score for this musical is perhaps his finest, with such standards as "From This Moment On", "Wunderbar" and the title track. "A" list performances throughout make "Kiss Me Kate" a real show stopper.
Unfortunately the same can't be said for Warner Home Video's dull looking transfer. Colors are muted, at time appearing bleached or, at the very least, weak. The same is true of the picture's contrast and black levels. There is a haze that plagues the picture quality throughout and adds to its overly soft characteristic.
Now, about that - the visual characteristic is generally soft looking throughout (most likely the result of over use of noise reduction equipment used to master the DVD). On a 32 inch television screen the picture will merely appear generally soft. On a 65 inch monitor it looks down right blurry and at times incredibly out of focus.
I am really at a loss to explain why this movie looks this bad. Owning the laserdisc and, doing a side by side comparison, I can report that the laserdisc actually surpasses this DVD in all of the above mentioned catagories. Of course, no laserdisc can hold a candle to DVD, in its superior resolution capabilities, and this DVD is no exception. There is no edge enhancement, aliasing or fine detail shimmering to speak of. This movie has been remixed to 5.1 surround. It's generally good, only suggesting a strident characteristic during brief interludes of dialogue or effects. The musical score is well represented.
Extras: Another all too short featurette on Cole Porter and the making of this movie - this one hosted by Ann Miller, but also featuring snippets from Kathryn Grayson, Howard Keel, Tommy Rall and James Whitmore. A theatrical trailer and isolated music track are also worthy of mention.
Bottom Line: In light of Warner's usually pristine efforts on DVD this transfer is a big disappointment and NOT recommended."
A Rollicking Production From MGM's "B" Unit
A. Munnik | Brazeau Tower, Alberta | 07/20/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"So popular were MGM's musicals during the "golden" decade that ran from 1944 to 1954 that one production unit was not enough to satisfy the demand for this genre. Modern viewers may find this hullabaloo a little hard to understand, but in an era where the overwhelming majority of films were still shot in black and white, MGM's glorious Technicolor productions were always considered a bit of a visual treat for audiences jaded by more typical "film noire" fare. Perhaps the waning popularity of musicals beginning in the late 1950's had something to do with the upsurge of colour in other film genres, as well as a decline in the colour quality of film musicals themselves (of which Kiss Me Kate is a good example) as studios cut costs by abandoning glorious three step Technicolor for the much duller one step colour processes such as Ansco.
Kiss Me Kate, a Broadway stage hit, was turned over to the studio's so called "B" Unit; a lower budget knock off of the "A" Unit headed by Arthur Freed and headed by such stellars of the film musical world as director Vincente Minnelli, Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Judy Garland, etc. Minnelli's search for perfection was legendary so it comes as no surprise that he would run up production costs, which became more of an issue in the problematic years of the early 1950's.
So MGM increasingly relied on the "B" Unit to keep up with the demand for musicals while at the same time not breaking the bank.
George Sidney was one of the favourite directors of the "B" Unit with a reputation for getting excellent results with sparser resources, such as time and money. Sidney achieved his results by fostering an "esprit de corps" atmosphere amongst his crew and cast. One of the hallmark of Sidney helmed films is that everyone seems to be having a good time and Kiss Me Kate is an excellent example of this. Howard Keel, Kathryn Grayson, Ann Miller and the rest of the cast all turn in wonderful performances in spite of their lesser marquee appeal compared to the "big guns" of the "A" Unit. They are helped along immeasureably by Cole Porter's splendid score, one of the very best to make its way to celluloid.
Some viewers complain that this DVD is not in the widescreen format. This film was shot in 1953, the same year that Fox introduced Cinemascope. Kiss Me Kate was one of the last major musicals to be shot in the old standard format, and it was soon realized that the novelty of 3-D would never be able to compete with widescreen. Viewers who claim to have seen Kiss Me Kate in widescreen probably saw a bit of mischief perpertrated by unscrupulous studio moguls who in their rush to get on the widescreen band wagon stooped to trimming the tops and bottoms of 35 mm film in order to achieve the 16:9 format. I think the process was called SuperScope and had a mercifully brief life as viewing audiences didn't appreciate seeing their stars minus their feet and the tops of their heads lobbed off.
No use in complaining about poor colour quality. Ansco was a bit of a disaster, being unstable in addition to it's other shortcomings. We should be grateful for what we have.
That the film version of Kiss Me Kate lacks the bite of the stage version is because of puritanical censorship codes that were rigorously enforced until well into the 1960's, and cannot be blamed on the film's creative team.
All in all, Kiss Me Kate is musical and comical riot from start to end and probably stands as the high light of George Sidney's illustrious career."
Wonderful and classic movie musical
Matthew G. Sherwin | last seen screaming at Amazon customer service | 03/18/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Kiss Me Kate is perhaps the best example of what MGM could do to create a sumptuous movie musical that holds your attention and never lets go! The song and dance numbers are flawless; we even see a young Bob Fosse doing his stuff at the very end of the movie. The convincing acting also impressed me and the plot moves along at a good pace.
The action starts when Cole Porter (played by Ron Randell) and Fred Graham (Howard Keel) are planning a new Broadway musical based on Shakespeare's Taming Of the Shrew. Of course, from the very start there's loads of action--they have selected Fred's ex-wife Lilli Vanessi (Kathryn Grayson) to play the role of Katherine the shrew. This sets up lots of gags involving Fred and Lilli's former marriage with all its warfare and the difficult person Lilli had to play in the Broadway musical. In addition, Ann Miller quickly makes her entrance as Fred's new girlfriend Lois Lane--who just happens to waltz into Fred's living room as they're all rehearsing to do, shall I say, a zesty number entitled "Too Darn Hot."
Of course, the actors are cast and the play eventually opens--and opening night is when most of the action takes place. Fred and Lilli eventually realize they're still in love with each other after all--so what will Lilli do about her engagement to some rich Texas tycoon? Worse yet, what happens when Lilli discovers--onstage--that the flowers from Fred were really meant for Lois who's also in the show?
In addition, there's a subplot provided, I think, mostly for comic relief--as if we needed any! Two gangsters are trailing Fred all through the opening night performance to the point of even going onstage as actors to shadow him during his scenes! These gangsters wrongly believe that Fred owes a debt to their boss--what will happen about that? Will Fred ever get them to realize they're shadowing the wrong guy?
Of course, the real strength of this motion picture lies in the song and dance numbers. There are so many I can't count them all--but you'll never tire of watching them. "Why Can't You Behave?", "Wunderbar" and "From This Moment On" are just three of these fantastic jewels.
The DVD comes with two extras of note--I liked the extra about Cole Porter's renaissance in Hollywood when they made this film; and there's a MGM short about Manhattan that really fascinated me as it shows what Manhattan used to look like. And they thought they were crowded back then!
The classic movie musical aficionado must have this film in their collection. I also recommend this film for fans of the stars of the picture; and this is also a great introduction for newcomers looking to see just what MGM could do when they put their minds to creating the ultimate movie musical. "