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Stephan Eichenberg <email@example.com>
This film was first telecast in Los Angeles Friday 8 March 1957 on KTTV (Channel 11), followed by Philadelphia Friday 26 July 1957 on WFIL (Channel 6) and by New York City Sunday 3 November 1957 on WCBS (Channel 2); in San Francisco it was first aired 3 August 1959 on KGO (Channel 7). At this time, color broadcasting was in its infancy, limited to only a small number of high rated programs, primarily on NBC and NBC affiliated stations, so these film showings were all still in B&W. Viewers were not offered the opportunity to see these films in their original Technicolor until several years later. See more »
Frank Sinatra as a mild mannered young gent from Boston who arrives in Old California expecting to run an inn, but instead is persuaded to assume the persona of the notorious "kissing bandit" of the title, a leader of highway robbers and a lady killer.
It's a Zorro-esque idea and it might have been an enjoyable romp with better writing and direction. The MGM production values are there, and so is some pretty good music. Walter Plunkett designed the costumes, and Stanley Donen choreographed. Robert Surtees shot it on the lavishly appointed MGM sound stages and on location in the Sierra foothills around Murphy's, California. It's beautiful to look at in Technicolor, and good to listen to, when music is featured. But the story fails to entertain.
The director, Laslo Benedek, whose first credited Hollywood job this was, went on to more prestigious projects like the film version of Death Of A Salesman, as well as the iconic Brando motorcycle picture, The Wild One. Musicals probably weren't his forte.
There's a good supporting cast in the acting department: Mildred Natwick, Mikhail Rasumny, Billy Gilbert, Clinton Sundberg, and J. Carrol Naish (sporting heavy makeup and a heavier accent). In the musical department, there's dancer Sono Osato (from Broadway's On The Town) in a stunning solo, as well as a "Dance Of Fury" from Ricardo Montalban, Ann Miller, and Cyd Charisse that is possibly the highlight of the film.
Kathryn Grayson is Sinatra's love interest; she looks lovely and gets to sing several nice numbers, the most famous of which, Love Is Where You Find It, was also sung that year by Jane Powell in a Pasternak musical, A Date With Judy. It's another highlight.
Frank Sinatra was not well cast in this film, he didn't want to make it and he was right. A fun actor in most of his MGM pictures, and later, a fine actor, he just seems unable to believe the situations he finds himself in, here.
I guess The Kissing Bandit is worth seeing once, but it's not a classic.
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