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Kiss Me Kate (1953)

Cast: Kathryn Grayson, Kathryn Grayson, Howard Keel, more...
Director: George Sidney, George Sidney
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Rating: Not Rated
Studio: Warner Home Video
Genre: Comedies, Shakespeare, Musicals
Running Time: 110 min.
Languages: English
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
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Cole Porter's Kiss Me Kate is a musical within a musical -- altogether appropriate, since its source material, Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew, was a play within a play. Howard Keel and Kathryn Grayson star as famous Broadway singing team who haven't worked together since their acrimonious divorce. Keel, collaborating with Cole Porter (played by Ron Randell), plans to star in a musical version of The Taming of the Shrew titled "Kiss Me Kate." Both he and Porter agree that only one actress should play the tempestuous Katherine, and that's Grayson. But she isn't buying, especially after discovering that Keel's latest paramour, Ann Miller, is going to be playing Bianca. Besides, Grayson is about to retire from showbiz to marry the "Ralph Bellamy character," played not by Bellamy, but by Willard Parker. A couple of gangsters (James Whitmore and Keenan Wynn) arrive on the scene, convinced Keel is heavily in debt to their boss; actually, a young hoofer in the chorus (Tommy Rall) owes the money, but signed Keel's name to an IOU. But since Grayson is having second thoughts about going on-stage, Keel plays along with the hoods, who force Grayson at gunpoint to co-star with her ex-husband so that they'll get paid off. Later the roles are reversed, and the gangsters are themselves finagled into appearing on-stage, Elizabethan costumes and all, though that scene is less of a comic success. This aside, Kiss Me Kate is a well-appointed (if bowdlerized) film adaptation of the Porter musical. Virtually all of the play's songs are retained for the screen version, notably "So in Love," "Wunderbar," "Faithful in My Fashion," "Too Darn Hot," "Why Can't You Behave?," "Brush Up Your Shakespeare" (a delightful duet delivered delightfully by Keenan Wynn and James Whitmore), and the title song. Additionally, Porter lifted a song from another play, Out of This World, and incorporated it in the movie version of Kiss Me Kate; as a result, "From This Moment On" has been included in all subsequent stagings of Kate. This MGM musical has the distinction of being filmed in 3-D, which is why Howard Keel and Kathryn Grayson throw so many chairs, dishes, and pieces of fruit at the camera in their domestic battle scenes. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

Cole Was Never Better by fred3f September 19, 2004 - 8:55 AM PDT
2 out of 2 members found this review helpful
This is Cole Porter in his top form. When you look back at the "golden age" of broadway musicals, many come off today as overly sentimental, overly wholesome or unrealistic ("Oklahoma," for example). Even those that have lasting merit were often converted to film as thinly disguised "filmed plays" with the addition of a mega budget for sets, costumes, extras etc. The result of such misguided efforts is that they seem slow and ponderous ("My Fair Lady," "Hello Dolly" for example - both excellent plays and lousy films).
"Kiss me Kate" manages to avoid these pitfalls. To begin with, the play is witty and does not portray a false morality which many of the golden age musicals tend to do. The filming, while not exceptional is at least competent. The music is top notch for its genre, and the acting is excellent. There is also a considerable amount of talent on the screen. Kathryn Grayson, aside from having a great voice is extreemly well suited for the role. In a never to be forgotten moment when she belts Howard Keel (also well voiced and perfectly suited), she does it with conviction. The comedy is witty, fast and entertaining.
The only reason this is not a 10 is because it is not in 3D. I was lucky enough to see this in 3D at a rerun house many years ago. Seeing Ann Miller (this is probably her finest role) dance on a table in 3D is something that is not easily forgotten. So as this is an election year, write both Bush and Kerry and tell them you are going to vote for the opposition unless they make issuing the 3D version on DVD part of their campaign. In fact you may, like a certain prominent star, want to live outside the US until this grossly unfair situation is corrected.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 7.32)
31 Votes
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More Singing! More Dancing!
Non-musicals and their musical counterpart. (No story is too depressing for musicals.)

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