So I managed to luck out again (like with my flight to Singapore) that I would be able to cross off a list movie as part of the in-flight entertainment. Honestly this film would have been better placed on a trip to New York rather than the first leg of my trip to Taipei, but a check is a check.
Over the course of watching my way through the 1001 movies list, I have come across a number of scenes that have found themselves as the subject of numerous references and parodies to the point that most people know the reference, but not the point of origin. The opening scene of On The Town – where the three central sailor characters sing “New York, New York” is one of those. I think most would know it from the Boy Scouts episode of The Simpsons.
The film itself is one of those quintessential musicals from the Golden Age of Hollywood through the lens of Gene Kelly. This means a lot of musical numbers that are accompanied by a hell of a lot of choreography – including an early (and shorter) example of one of Gene Kelly’s dream ballets.
At the centre of the film are three sailors on shore leave in New York for 24 hours. They start off with the idea to take in the sites, but end up spending the day looking for a girl from a poster on the subway. By the end, they each find a girl and leave New York with memories of an eventful day and a large number of ethnic dance reviews.
Aside from the slight issue that Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly look a bit too old to play the roles of the sailors, I really did enjoy the casting. I especially loved Betty Garrett in the role of Hildy the taxi driver. It was nice to see the women being more sexually aggressive in a movie like this, and she has good chemistry with Sinatra.
I also am starting to find out how Sinatra managed to become a movie star (aside from getting a lot of roles because of draft dodging), he’s a consistently decent actor – although, at least for me, I don’t think he’ll outdo his role in High Society.
Now, whilst I am on board with a bit of a cinematic wish fulfilment – I do wish that there had been some more dialogue and a bit less dancing. I know that’s a bit of a dumb thing to say when watching a musical of this era, but I think we missed on some interesting chances for character development in favour of an extended tap number. Also, some of the songs in the final act were quite a bit weaker than those we’d seen earlier.
Still, it was an enjoyable way to spend 100 minutes of an 11 hour flight.
Right, so seeing how there is a big time difference to deal with I guess it’s time to finish off the in-flight meal and try to get a few hours of sleep. Even if it’s two to three hours. Tomorrow I’ll begin with the first of my posts about my time in Taipei. Until then, a hopeful good night.