On the Town – Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen (1949)

I had the opportunity to see On the Town for the first time this afternoon, as part of a Frank Sinatra series. Really the most fun I’ve had in a movie theater all year (even better than always winning a free popcorn playing the trivia app before movies at the Carmike). The epitome of sophisticated stupidity, On the Town packs more laughs and sexiness into any random two minute segment than a modern comedy can manage in a 90 minute running time. A reflection of New York in its golden age, the film also manages to portray the pathos of being one of the millions of nobodies not swept up in romance, trapped in their role as stereotype or supporting player. And the sequence where Gene Kelly fantasizes the abstracted, modernist stage version of his romantic hi-jinks comments piquantly on the intertwined nature of life and art, and on the later’s ability to not only redeem, but to supersede and transform the former into its likeness. Kelly is always a joy to watch, and this is so much better than Donen’s grating, insipid, and very overrated Singing in the Rain (of which Kelly is the only good part, in my opinion). A great film.

Five stars out of five

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