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Three sailors - Gabey, Chip and Ozzie - let loose on a 24-hour pass in New York and the Big Apple will never be the same! Gabey falls head over heels for "Miss Turnstiles of the Month" (he thinks she's a high society deb when she's really a 'cooch dancer at Coney Island); innocent Chip gets highjacked (literally) by a lady cab driver; and Ozzie becomes the object of interest of a gorgeous anthropologist who thinks he's the perfect example of a "prehistoric man". Wonderful music and terrific shots of New York at its best. Written by
When the film premiered at the Radio City Music Hall there was then the largest line to get in, in that theater's history. After the film's initial success, Arthur Freed, the producer of this film, recalled that his unit was in the MGM commissary passing the Joe Pasternak unit (which made less expensive musicals), the Pasternak unit said, "There goes the royal family." Indeed, this picture was at the time the second largest-grossing in MGM history, next to Meet Me in St. Louis (1944). See more »
Spectators can be seen watching the filming of the "New York, New York" number in Rockfeller Center (though it could be argued that the sight of three men in navy uniforms singing and dancing might attract attention, even in New York). See more »
"Gotta See The Whole Town, From Yonkers On Down To The Bay ... In Just One Day"
The Bronx is up and the Battery's down, and Kelly and Sinatra are back in sailor suits, in this effervescent MGM musical. The three matelots (our two heroes are joined by Jules Munshin for this caper) have a 24-hour shore leave in which to savour New York City. "What can happen to ya in one day?" asks a shipyard worker, and the guys answer the question by picking up girls, destroying a dinosaur and getting chased to Coney Island by the cops... in just one day.
Leonard Bernstein composed the tunes, and the writers of the stage show (Green & Comden) provided the lyrics, supplemented by Bernstein himself and the associate producer, Roger Edens. Of the songs, "On The Town" and "You Can Count On Me" are nerve-tingling showstoppers. "Prehistoric Man" is much weaker, but saved by crisp, playful choreography. The two expressionist ballets, "Miss Turnstiles" and "A Day In New York" bear the hallmark of Kelly's directorial style, which first reached its maturity in this picture. Kelly's slide on his knees towards the 'Miss Turnstiles' poster is a piece of cinema magic.
Kelly plays Gabey, a supposedly worldly-wise lady's man who turns out to be a Mid-Western innocent in the big city, and who falls in love with a struggling hoofer(Vera-Ellen), a girl he takes to be a celebrity. Sinatra is the serious-minded Chip, the enthusiastic sightseer who gets snapped up by Hildie Esterhazy (Betty Garrett), a knowing cabbie who has one aim - to get Chip alone in her apartment. Ann Miller sings and dances impeccably as Claire Huddesen, the bluestocking who gets turned on by Ozzie's primitive quality.
"On The Town" has a daffy story, as musicals often do, but it fizzes with flirtatious youthful energy. Each of the three couples has its own song and/or dance, and these are sensitively tailored to suit the individuals' personalities. The Empire State Building observation platform set is a knockout, and the film's sense of fun even extends to a sly Ava Gardner joke at Sinatra's expense. Notional time runs from 6am at the start of the boys' leave ('boys', or 'kids' as they are twice described, is not quite accurate - Kelly was 37 and the other two 34 at the time of filming) until 6am the following morning, as it ends. Three new sailors come charging down the gangway to start their 24 hours in the Big Apple, reminding us that love and youth are eternal, and New York's a wonderful town.
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