Anchors Aweigh (1945)
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Still reeling from the excitement of Sinatra and Kelly – singing, dancing, and romancing, as the caption says. I loved the quiet, shy Frank Sinatra. The poor fellow, getting tutored in love from the scheming, sneaky Gene Kelly. But – what dancing! What excitement! The stretches of musical routine fit perfectly into the story – the classical music from Jose Iturubi (thrilling!), the cartoon sequence (a little stretched-out, but crazy unique and effective), Kelly’s dance to Kathryn Grayson (wonderfully blended into the real-life tale). Love the Navy, love the little boy who adored Kelly, love the happy, happy feeling I get watching it.
I have a specific and narrow question about this movie, and also the film It happened in Brooklyn, both featuring Frank Sinatra as one of the two top leads, and both showing Frank as something of a dweeb trying to romance Kathryn Grayson and getting beat out both times, by the likes of Gene Kelly and Peter Lawford. Why was Frank typically a dweeb in his early musicals (On the Town and Take Me out to the Ballgame, too), and why was he continually chosen to be frustrated by Kathryn Grayson, one of the few Hollywood stars impervious to his charms both on and off the stage? I welcome your comments.
I've seen a number of Gene Kelly movies at this point, and I'm always impressed by his physical prowess, but do all his characters have to be jackasses? I'm often wondering if that's him, his type-casting, what the era considered to be a leading man, or what. And yet, he always finds a way to redeem himself by the end. He's the cad that only needs the love of a good woman, and he'll mend his ways. Maybe I've just answered my own question. That's a fantasy for at least some women. I may also be exaggerating, but Anchors Aweigh is certainly in that mold, and worse than most. It's a bit too long for a sailors-on-leave musical, with many sequences you could cut without affecting the story structurally or emotionally. But could we really lose the first ever live action-cartoon integration scene in cinema history? (Oh, and Tom and Jerry?! I didn't expect celebrity toons! And wow, Jerry's a real good dancer too!) I guess it also takes time to give Kelly a proper ethical out to go after his buddy's girl (Frank Sinatra was never so thin nor so timid). Bonus Dean Stockwell as a kid; that's so weird.
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In 3 official lists
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This movie ranks #3 in BFI's 100 Film Musicals
This movie ranks #149 in Academy Award - Best Picture Nominees
This movie ranks #152 in Mark Cousins's The Story of Film: An Odyssey