Kiss Me Kate (1953)
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Not great. The premise is interesting—a stage performance of a musical version of Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew, bookended by backstage drama/shenanigans which end up seeping into the show—and I might have stopped to wonder if the film pulls off this structural conceit if I hadn't been so busy not giving a shit about any of the characters. One can tell that most everybody onscreen thinks what they are doing is Very Cool, but one wonders what they have to be so cocky about. There are far too many pointless musical numbers that overstay their welcome ("Brush Up Your Shakespeare" being a prime offender), and the gags which the filmmakers clearly thought would have audiences roaring with laughter elicited only groans from me. The narrative feels, more often than not, completely forced, leading to an ending that is at once totally predictable and entirely unearned. Other irksome details include the overly formal, vibrato-turned-up-to-eleven singing voices of the two leads, and the fact that, because the film was shot in 3D, the performers keep throwing shit at the camera for no reason. The movie is at its best when everyone just shuts up and dances, with the three suitor characters (one of whom is played by a young Bob Fosse) being a particular joy to watch. The highlight of the film is their stellar dance number that comes in the last 10 minutes; whether you want to sit through the rest of a pretty dire picture in order to make it that much sweeter, or just look it up on YouTube is up to you.
Men singing about why can't women behave while also lamenting about the promiscuous fun they once had before married life.
The 1953 film adaptation of the the Broadway hit Kiss Me Kate (no comma) is a perfectly amusing musical in which a pair of ex-spouses play opposite one another in a production of a Taming of the Shrew musical, which is pleasantly meta and I think sort of justifies the cast sometimes looking into camera or throwing stuff at it to create a 3D experience (yep, it was filmed in wall-breaking 3D). For Howard Keel, it's yet another sexist role out of which to belt Broadway hits. Kathryn Grayson gives a spirited performance opposite him and brings out I think the most sympathetic part of him. The amount of behind-the-scenes shenanigans that take place DURING the big show is of course patently ridiculous, and it means that the play within the play is probably unwatchable (as a theater goer, I was nitpicking the fictional show quite a lot), and I do wish there was more to it because all the best bits and songs are in the show itself. Though it's cool to see a young Bob Fosse dance a very Fosse number in there somewhere, some of the dancing could have been switched out with a scene or two to help flesh out Kate's transformation. As is, while we may be happy with the way the actors' stories turned out, the characters in the play are ill-served and so is Shakespeare himself. To quote my friend Nath while watching this: "'I Hate Men' is a mood."
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In 2 official lists
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This movie ranks #46 in BFI's 100 Film Musicals
This movie ranks #353 in Jonathan Rosenbaum's Essential Cinema