Fred and Lilly are a divorced pair of actors who are brought together by Cole Porter who has written a musical version of The Taming of the Shrew. Of course, the couple seem to act a great deal like the characters they play. A fight on the opening night threatens the production, as well as two thugs who have the mistaken idea that Fred owes their boss money and insist on staying next to him all night.
Kathryn Grayson ... Lilli Vanessi 'Katherine'
Howard Keel ... Fred Graham 'Petruchio'
Ann Miller ... Lois Lane 'Bianca'
Keenan Wynn ... Lippy
Bobby Van ... 'Gremio'
Tommy Rall ... Bill Calhoun 'Lucentio'
James Whitmore ... Slug
Kurt Kasznar ... Baptista
Bob Fosse ... 'Hortensio'
Ron Randell ... Cole Porter
Directed: George Sidney
Music: Cole Porter
Xvid / MP3
Total delight from start to finish, this witty, musical version of The Taming of the Shrew. This show within a show is bright and splashy and boasts terrific performances, songs, dancing, and costumes. Howard Keel plays the egotistic Fred Graham who us mounting this new musical with ex-wife Lilli Vanessi (Kathryn Grayson) as his leading lady. The battling couple mirrors the battling couple in the play. All very clever.
As good as Grayson and Keel as however, Ann Miller totally steals the show as Lois Lane, the brassy chorus girl Fred has given a part (the younger sister) in the play. Mills is fantastic as she sings and dances her way through some great numbers: It's Too Darn Hot, From This Moment On, Always True to You, and Tom, Dick or Harry. Her opening number of Too Darn Hot is astounding as she swirls and taps around Cole POrter's living room and across his table tops. The skin tight tassled red outfit is probably the sexiest outfit Miller ever wore and she looks great. She was always denied the starring roles in MGM musicals which is a shame. MGM preferred the more demure types like Grayson or Judy Garland, Jane Powell, Debbie Reynolds for starring roles and Miller always got stuck playing the flashy friend or other woman.
Also good in this great musical are Keenan Wynn and James Whitmore as the thugs who get to sing Brush Up Your Shakespeare. Bob Fosse, Bobby Van, and Tommy Rall are the three dancers. Carol Haney and Jeanne Coyne show up for the From This Moment On number with Miller and the Boys. Ann Codee is the maid, Claude Allister is the butler, Willard Parker is Tex, Dave O'Brien is the stage manager, Kurt Kaznar is the stage father, and Ron Randell plays Cole Porter.
Originally done in 3-D, Kiss Me Kate is shock full of great songs and some of the best lyrics ever heard. For those of us growing up in the 50s, most of the songs from this musical are familiar hits, including Wunderbar, From This Moment On, Always True to You, and So In Love.
Kiss Me Kate is a textbook musical that works on all levels. Keel and Grayson were never better, Miller is outstanding, Whitmore and Wynn are fun, and Tommy Rall gets a couple of dance numbers (My Can't You Behave) that prove him to be one of the best dancers of his generation. The short dance solo with Fosse and Haney also presages much of Fosse's later groundbreaking choreography.
Not a false step in this film, which ranks as one of the great musicals.
* Originally filmed in 3D which is why the actors often throw things (including themselves) at the audience.
* Publicity photos on the piano during the "So In Love" number include a shot from the previous Howard Keel/Kathryn Grayson pairing, Show Boat (1951), but the photo from Annie Get Your Gun (1950) has Kathryn Grayson's face replacing 'Betty Hutton (I) 's.
* Several of the Broadway lyrics were considered too "spicy" for a film. For instance, "according to the Kinsey Report" was changed to "according to the weather report" in the song, "Too Darn Hot", and a verse containing bawdy puns was omitted from "Brush Up Your Shakespeare".
* The movie was shot full frame (1.33:1, including soundtrack area) and then printed with optical soundtrack and interlocked with a magnetic, full-coated strip of film in the theater. While shot on Ansocolor film stock, the prints were by Technicolor, who optically centered the picture to fit the soundtrack on the film (unfortunately, new prints do not have this advantage and the left portion of the picture is cut off prematurely). The film was only shot in 3-D and except for the premiere (at Radio City), played at almost all major theaters across the USA in 3-D (according to trade ads). According to the director in a 1953 interview, the aspect ratio was intended to be 1.75:1, although it was protected for almost every ratio, due to the ever-changing standards of flat widescreen at the time.
* Howard Keel maintained that he was not the first choice for the film, and that the studio wanted Laurence Olivier or Danny Kaye.
* The original stage showed was based upon the backstage bickering of the illustrious married stage couple Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne during their 1935 Broadway production of "Taming of the Shrew."
* Bob Fosse choreographed his duet with Carol Haney at Bianca's wedding.
* Deanna Durbin was the original choice for the role of Lilli Vanessi.
* This was Ann Miller's favorite role.
* For the famous spanking scene, Kathryn Grayson and costume designer Helen Rose played a joke on Howard Keel -- Rose put a wooden board under Grayson's costume.