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Sailor Danny Xavier Smith and two other gobs try to save his sister Susan's virtue. She wants to get a role in the show "Hit the Deck". After wrecking the producers hotel suite, they land in the brig. But Danny's father is a Rear Admiral... Written by
Stephan Eichenberg <email@example.com>
The play Shore Leave was given another and final musical adaption in 1955 serving as a great showcase for some mighty talented stars at MGM. Vincent Youmans and Irving Caesar wrote the original musical Hit the Deck for Broadway in the twenties and an film adaption was done in 1930 starring Jack Oakie. Then Irving Berlin did his own version for the screen in Follow the Fleet for Fred and Ginger.
Come 1955 and we have still another script retaining some of the Youmans-Caesar songs and adding several Youmans numbers from other shows. The songs are well integrated into the story since it involves some sailors on shore leave in San Francisco involved with some musical performers.
The sailors are Tony Martin, Vic Damone, and Russ Tamblyn. Martin and Damone are two of the best voices around and Tamblyn is a good dancer. They pair off with Ann Miller, Jane Powell, and Debbie Reynolds.
Martin is having trouble with Miller, they have a Nathan Detroit/Adelaide relationship long distance and she's tired of it. In the mean time Powell who is Tamblyn's sister is involved with a Broadway wolf played with relish by Gene Raymond. Both are the offspring of Admiral Walter Pidgeon.
Anyway our sailors rescue damsel in distress Powell and spend most of the film hiding from the Shore Patrol. One of the two Shore Patrolmen is played by Alan King who was appearing with Martin in his nightclub act and Martin got the part for him in Hit the Deck.
Powell and Damone had already been a screen team in Rich, Young and Pretty and also had appeared in Deep in My Heart together in a musical number. They do a two nice duets with a couple of noted Youmans songs I Know that You Know and Sometimes I'm Happy. Martin's big solo number is the famous More Than You Know trying to win Miller back. And our Ann dances to Keeping Myself for You, Bayou, and the Hallelujah finale number.
Up till Showboat, musicals in fact had thin plots for stories and were just an excuse for singing and dancing. Hit the Deck is a throwback to those days. But a nicely done throwback.
Of course Ann Miller is just fine, but why oh why didn't MGM cast Cyd Charisse opposite her husband? Missed another opportunity.
Look for Richard Anderson who has a small role as the aide to Walter Pidgeon. In a very understated way he's the one who brings about a satisfactory conclusion to one and all.
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