I thought after the success of Funny Fridays as the perfect end to the week, it would be nice to start with Musical Mondays, so you can get tunes stuck in your head. Why not? Everyone loves at least one musical and, well, it is MY blog, I couldn’t go very long without posting about musicals. So today we start with the greatest musical ever written, Kiss Me Kate.
Ok, the accolade Greatest Musical is usually given to Singin’ In The Rain, but to me that is a jukebox musical, as almost all the songs were used in prior films. I love it, but as a complete musical, Kiss Me Kate is the best. Originally a stage musica in 1948, today I am focussing on the film from 1953, which is highly faithful to the stage production. The play was written by Samuel and Bella Spewack, who created a wonderfully complex play-within-a-play based on The Taming of the Shrew (also the inspiration for 1999’s best film, 10 Things I Hate About You). The music was provided by Cole Porter, who was unsure about the project as he hadn’t had a surefire hit for a number of years. As it turned out, this was his greatest ever score, augmented in the film in places by a very young Andre Previn, the Musical Director. The film stars Howard Keel and Kathryn Grayson as the divorced stars of a musical, and Ann Miller as the young starlet who is romantically involved with Keel, despite having her own boyfriend, the wonderful Tommy Rall (also seen with Keel in SevenBrides for Seven Brothers). There are several other notable characters, including two hoodlums played by Keenan Wynn and James Whitmore, and two more of Ann Miller’s suitors in the play-within-a-play, played by Bob Fosse and Bobby Van.
Ann Miller and Kathryn Grayson
Bob Fosse, Tommy Rall and Bobby Van
I won’t go into much more detail about the musical, as hopefully the following songs will inspire you to seek it out! I will just say though that there is one part of this film that is historic – Bob Fosse was a burgeoning young choreographer, and asked to contribute some ideas to the film. Andre Previn was so impressed with the young man that he wrote about 40 seconds of jazztastic music for Fosse and his dance partner Carol Haney to do with what they wished. It’s towards the end of the film, but it is distinctly Fosse-esque, and marks the first time that Fosse choreographed for film; he of course later went on to create/choreograph such classics as Chicago and Cabaret.
So, enough of my jabber, and on to the songs! I hope you enjoy them, Cole Porter had a knack of combining seriously intelligent lyrics with seriously catchy tunes. Happy listening!
From This Moment On, including the Fosse dance scene at 2.35:
Tom, Dick or Harry:
Too Darn Hot:
And finally, Howard Keel as Bill Graham as Petruchio, singing Where Is the Life that Late I Led?: