Kiss Me Kate DVD
This DVD is currently unavailable to order
Directed by George Sidney
Produced in 1953
Main Language - English
Countries & Regions - American film
Great songs, beautiful colour, captivating performances and Cole Porter's eloquent wit make this version of The Taming of the Shrew the best Porter musical on film, says David Parkinson.
Hollywood was never particularly respectful to Cole Porter. Many of the songs from his Broadway hits were dropped, either because they were deemed too racy by the censors or because the studios replaced them with numbers by in-house tunesmiths that would generate ancillary revenue. However, producer Jack Cummings retained all but three of the 17 ditties Porter penned for this sprightly adaptation of The Taming of the Shrew, which sees a sparring, divorced couple brought together for Porter’s stage musical version of Shakespeare’s play.
On its initial release in 1953, Kiss Me Kate became the second musical after Those Redheads from Seattle to be screened in 3D. But director George Sidney was far less interested in having Kathryn Grayson’s Lilli hurl objects at her ex-husband (Howard Keel) during their frequent backstage spats than in bringing a visual vibrancy to the dance sequences. As a consequence, Bob Fosse and Carol Haney oozed sensuality during their duet in ‘From This Moment On’, while Ann Miller hit a phenomenal 500 taps per minute during the sizzling ‘Too Darn Hot’.
Yet, while the kinetic energy of the action was key, Sidney recognised the eloquent wit of Porter’s lyrics, which not only drove the plot and offered character insight, but also riffed on the Bard’s own verse. Thus, ‘I’ve Come to Wive it Wealthily in Padua’ and ‘Where is the Life that Late I Led?’ succeed in commenting on both the play in which Keel and Grayson are starring and the state of their off-stage relationship. Moreover, they are brilliantly slick catalogue songs in the classic Porter manner and enhance a songbook already containing such minor gems as the operetta lampoon ‘Wunderbar’, the ballad ‘So in Love’ and the showstopper ‘Why Can’t Men Behave?’
It would have been fascinating to see a dubbed Laurence Olivier (originally considered for the part) sparring with Grayson, but MGM settled for the dependable Keel, whose swaggering pomposity is more effective than Grayson’s prickly vulnerability. Six decades on, this remains the best Porter musical on film.
David Parkinson on 20th February 2012
Author of 193 reviews
Cole Porter's version of The Taming of the Shrew, Kiss Me Kate features great songs, beautiful colour and captivating performances. Brush Up Your Shakespeare stands as a highlight for many, with Wynn and James Whitmore as a couple of hoodlums of surprising erudition. If you gotta girl, and you wanna flatter her, tell her what Tony told Cleo-pat-a-ra ... marvellous stuff.
Length: 110 mins
Aspect ratio: 1.33:1
Format: DVD Colour
Released: 5th March 2012
Cat No: 1000127540
- Australian import, plays in all UK DVD players
- Ann Miller hosts Cole Porter in Hollywood: Too Darn Hot
- Music only track
- Vintage Documentary Short - 'Mighty Manhattan, New York's Wonder City'
- Behind the scenes notes.
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