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Perhaps the director was trying for another PIRATE (Good Garland and Kelly musical) -- but this lame musical epoch falls flat. Sinatra and Kathryn Graysons voices do not blend well -- and their chemistry together lacks spark. The premise of Sinatra as a sweet guy who tries to impersonate his late "bandito" father is okay, but he seems awkward in the role. What's amazing and wonderful here, is how Sinatra can take a rather insipid song and make it seem special -- his phrasing and eloquence as a singer make you want to hear it again. When Grayson sings the same songs it's hard to believe she's not singing something entirely different and not nearly as interesting. She has her big moment with "Love Is Where You Find It" which suits her perfectly and shows off her abilities. The photography is lucious and both stars look appealing as do the costumes and sets. Co-stars Mildred Natwick and J. Carroll Nash put lots of energy into making the impossible work. Aside from Sinatra's singing there is a strange menage-a-tois dance with Ricardo Montalban, Cyd Charisse and Ann Miller. It's fascinating and weird. Montalban and Charisse were a wonderful dancing team and this number is a real oddity.
The Kissing Bandit was the third and final film that Frank Sinatra and
Kathryn Grayson co-starred at MGM with. The first two were Anchors
Aweigh and It Happened in Brooklyn. And in both Sinatra wooed and lost
Grayson. I guess the third time's the charm.
For romance maybe, but definitely not for screen image. Sinatra in his forty's films once again plays the nice little schnook only this time in toreador pants. Poaching on Tyrone Power's territory laid out in The Mark of Zorro, Sinatra plays the son of a man who was a hotel owner by day and The Kissing Bandit by night. He's gone and left California for an education and has come back ready to take Dad's place, but in the hotel business only. And where does he learn the hotel business, Boston.
Of course some of Dad's former gang members, grown a little old and paunchy led by J. Carrol Naish, want him to lead the gang again. But Frank's just not cut out for the outlaw life. But he does make a good impression on the Governor's daughter, Kathryn Grayson.
Somebody must have had it in for Sinatra at MGM to cast him in this after the bad reviews he got in Miracle of the Bells. Frank's in a part that was more suitable for Red Skelton. But since this was a musical, I guess the brain trust at MGM figured Kathryn Grayson had to have a singing co-star.
In fact the best number in the film are for her, Love Is Where You Find It. Also Ricardo Montalban, Ann Miller, and Cyd Charisse do a dance specialty that is nice. Frank's songs are nice, but nothing spectacular.
In later years, Sinatra would wince at the mention of The Kissing Bandit and with good reason.
A klutzy young man returns West after being schooled in the hotel business via Boston; he quickly learns his friends in Spanish-colonized Old California expect him to fill his deceased father's shoes instead--that of a romantic thief known for kissing his female victims after robbing them. Colorful but silly M-G-M production has a great deal of talent before and behind the camera, but it never takes off. This might have been fun, second-string material for Abbott & Costello, but Frank Sinatra looks lost and embarrassed in the lead. Combination of raucous comedy and musical interludes are hindered by the poor staging (Sinatra is photographed singing at one point in a mirror, but one doesn't concentrate on his performance so much as noticing how odd the star appears reflected in this way!). Kathryn Grayson is the Governor's daughter who falls for Frank, and her high soprano trilling turns her singing scenes into self-parody. Aside from Robert Surtees' cinematography and the decent art direction, this "Bandit" remains kissless. * from ****
MGM musical starring Frank Sinatra and Kathryn Grayson. Sinatra plays the son of a businessman who had a secret identity as the Kissing Bandit in California. When his father dies, Sinatra moves from Boston to California to take over the business - and the Kissing Bandit identity. The problem? He's kind of a wuss. During his first raid, he's too afraid to kiss Kathryn Grayson, the daughter of the governor, which causes her to seethe with jealousy. The Kissing Bandit has an awfully low IMDb rating at 4.7, but I didn't think it was that bad. It's certainly no worse than a good chunk of MGM musicals made around the same time. Sure, we could wish it were better, but it's cute enough, funny enough and it has some pretty good songs. Grayson is absolutely adorable in it. The film also includes Cyd Charisse, in what might be her lousiest dance sequence ever (obviously the choreographer's fault) with a whip to charm Sinatra, and Ann Miller and Ricardo Montelbahn (along with another uncredited dancer) share a fine dance as "fiesta specialty dancers".
Okay, so it's not West Side Story, but The Kissing Bandit is darned
cute. There were so many silly musicals throughout motion-picture
history, I'm surprised that this one is getting such a bad rap.
The 1940's, regardless of how thinly the stories were laid-on, was the most beautiful decade in history for films. The remarkable lighting, set, and costume design of the '40's can make just about every movie enjoyable. Sinatra and Grayson are delightful; any scene in which Kathryn appears is worth watching just because she was so adorable and lovely. Mildred Natwick's role isn't very vivid, but she's a wonderful actress no matter how small the part.
If you don't care for the silliness of the "filler", just fast-forward to any scene with singing, dancing, or an actress -- Heck three of the most beautiful and talented women in film are all in the same movie. Just enjoy the pretty colors and all will be well... sleep... sleeeep...
This must be one of MGM's and FRANK SINATRAS worst films. An oddball musical comedy that fails in almost every aspect. Silly plot has SINATRA trying to carry on his fathers reputation as a KISSING BANDIT. He's no bandit and doesn't kiss!! He does play the "nerdy" character as well as could be expected given the dialog he has to speak. The scene stealer's are J. CARROLL NASH and MILDRED NATWICK. Too bad they didn't have more scenes together. I've given the film two stars because the sets and costumes are superior and one of the songs sung by KATHTREN GRAYSON "Love is Where You Find It", is sensational. Could have had a repirse of that one. Also, a comic type dance number by RIDCARDO MANTALBAN, CYD CHARISSE and ANN MILLER if fun. So for those reasons and those reasons only, it is watchable. KISSING BANDIT is part of the Frank Sinatra early years collection.
The IMDb score for this film is under 5--indicating it's a bad film.
While I agree it is very slight and has many problems, the film isn't
bad and is a decent time-passer.
Frank Sinatra is completely wrong for the part, though his singing was great--better than his co-star Kathryn Grayson. He plays a Bostonian who has moved to Mexican California (before it became a part of the US). His thick New Jersey accent sounds completely unlike a Bostonian and midway through the film he is impersonating a man from Spain!! As I said, he's completely wrong for the film.
Sinatra moves to California to assume control of his father's inn. However, he doesn't realize that inn-keeping was NOT his father's real job--he was the infamous 'Kissing Bandit'. When the father's old henchman (J. Carrol Naish) informs him he MUST assume control of the old gang and take up the tradition of kissing fair ladies who he robs, Sinatra is afraid--he doesn't think he is up to the task! When he's on his first robbery, he meets a gorgeous lady (Grayson) and ISN'T up to the task--and cannot make himself kiss her. It isn't that he's not attracted--it just seems wrong to kiss a stranger! As for her, she's intrigued...and a bit disappointed he didn't kiss her! The story gets a lot weirder--especially when later Sinatra and Naish pose as emissaries from Spain--and Grayson's father (the Governor) wines and dines them! What's next? Tune in and see.
As for the plot, it's really silly--completely silly, actually. And, in this era of political correctness, it's also likely to offend some of the more feminist bent. But it is fun! What isn't fun, however, is the singing. As I said above, Sinatra is great--with a gorgeous voice as you'd expect. As for Grayson, she has a quality voice but it's also VERY operatic--and hard on the ears. Also, most of the songs are completely forgettable. An odd exception is "Love is Where You Find it". I say odd, because only about a week ago, I heard this EXACT song in the movie "A Date for Judy" in which Jane Powell sang the same tune. While IMDb doesn't indicate it, they sounded EXACTLY the same to me--like one was perhaps not really singing the tune but using a recording of the other woman (though which is which, I have no idea). Overall, not a bad little film but a bit silly and the singing was a definite low-point.
A strange post-World War II Technicolor curiosity from the Joe Pasternak musical unit at MGM, which had neither the budget nor the taste of the Arthur Freed unit on the same lot. Set in Mexican California as imagined by the Culver City art department, the bandit Chico is played broadly by the dialectician J. Carrol Naish (Irish) with a fake bulbous nose worthy of W.C. Fields; Don Jose by the Moscow-Art-Theater actor Mikhail Rasumny; and Ricardo by Hoboken-born Italian-American Frank Sinatra in his skinny bobby socker's heart-throb days. Along the way you'll see Ann Miller, Ricardo Montalban and Cyd Charrise dancing and not acting to choreography by soon to be director Stanley Donen. Future cowboy star Ben Johnson did some of the stunts. Cinematography by Robert Surtees is replete with soft- focus close-ups of Kathryn Grayson who often looks as if she was photographed through Vaseline. The film was directed by the Hungarian Laslo Benedek, best remembered today for THE WILD ONE (1963) with Brando. Sad to note, the real Mexicans in the cast were delegated to minor roles.
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.
The Kissing Bandit was an attempt by MGM to build up Frank Sinatra as a
leading man. This is a lively, bright, and goofy comedy musical.
Sinatra plays Ricardo, a California born, Boston-bred young man who
returns to California to take over the family business, not knowing
that his father was the infamous Kissing Bandit. So named because he
kissed all the women after he was done with his thievery. Ricardo is
the last possible candidate to take up his father's mask. He is a
proper and uncoordinated, and in his funny entrance he literally
crashes through the inn that his father owned, having fallen off of his
horse. J. Carroll Naish plays the comic relief on the male side as
Chico, who was Ricardo's father's right hand man. Frank Sinatra is
fine, but stiff at times in his role.
Sinatra's leading lady is operatic coloratura singer Kathryn Grayson, and this is a strange pairing. When they are doing songs by themselves, both actors shine, but their lone duet in the film (and thank goodness there is only one!) just doesn't work. Sinatra's smooth, jazz crooning is an odd, almost jarring pairing with Grayson's operatic arias. The film would have been stronger had they paired Frank with someone whose singing style wasn't as vastly different. The songs in the film are all good and memorable, including the Grayson solo "Tomorrow Means Romance", the Sinatra solo "Siesta", and my favorite song in the film "What's Wrong With Me?", which both Grayson and Sinatra sing. The songs were written by Nacio Herb Brown and Earl K. Brent. Brown had been paired frequently with Arthur Freed in the '20's and '30's and their songs were later used as the basis for possibly the best known movie musical of all time, Singin' in the Rain. "What's Wrong With Me", in fact, was used in the stage version of Singin'.
In addition to Naish, the film has a fine supporting cast of character actors, including Mildred Natwick as Grayson's man hungry aunt, and Clinton Sundberg as the bumbling Colonel Gomez, who keeps getting demoted. The plot line is thin and pure silliness, and Sinatra and Grayson have a flimsy chemistry, but it is held up by several strong musical performances and two cool dance sequences, one that includes Ricardo Montalban, Cyd Charisse, and Ann Miller. The comedy is not lacking though, and I had a smile on my face throughout. Overall, The Kissing Bandit, provides a fun time-filler for a late night or rainy day.
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