On The Town (U)

on the town

From the archive

This film was last shown on 13 June 2017

On the Town is a glorious, old-fashioned MGM musical. This was Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra's third movie together and the second time they played sailors. Besides the obvious fact that between them they possessed the greatest singing and dancing talents of their generation, they also had a natural camaraderie together. Jules Munshin, Ann Miller, Vera-Ellen and Betty Garrett costar in this screen adaptation of the popular Broadway musical.

Kelly, Sinatra and Munshin are Gabey, Chip and Ozzie, three sailors on 24-hour shore leave in The Big Apple. They leave the ship at 6:00am and during a montage of shots, while the guys are singing 'New York, New York', they visit Liberty Island, the Brooklyn Bridge, Wall Street, Chinatown, Washington Square Park, Rockefeller Center, and even manage to horseback ride and bike ride through Central Park. When the song ends Frank Sinatra says, 'Come on fella's, it's 9:30 and we haven't been anywhere yet.'

Later, Gene Kelly sees a poster of 'Miss Turnstile for the month of June' (Vera-Ellen) on the subway, he mistakenly assumes her to be a big star, and is instantly smitten with her after a brief chance encounter. He then drags Sinatra and Munsin all over the city in a quest to find her. Along the way they meet a hot-to-trot lady cab driver (Garrett) who lusts after the naïve Sinatra, and a beautiful anthropologist played by Ann Miller, at the Museum of Natural History.

They decide to split up in their search, agreeing to meet at the top of the Empire State Building at 8:30pm. As the clock ticks along Gabey finally locates Miss Turnstile and so the three young couples reunite at the top of the city's tallest point. They go on to have a truly memorable evening together; including my favorite song, the joyously infectious title number performed by all six leads, and being chased by the cops at Coney Island. The movie ends where it began. The three sailors return to the ship at dawn, as three new sailors head off for their day of adventure in the big city.

On the Town has all the necessary ingredients to be a great musical. Great songs with witty lyrics and catchy melodies, inventive, energetic dance numbers, talented performers playing sympathetic characters with funny dialogue in ridiculous situations.

Gene Kelly, Stanley Donen
98 minutes
Betty Garrett, Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly


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