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Mike-957

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27 out of 32 people found the following review useful:
Lavish musical spoof with classy legit. roots., 20 December 2001
7/10

JUPITER'S DARLING is an offbeat MGM musical with many entertaining elements. Famous as one of the musical flops of MGM's 1955 output (which included KISMET and IT'S ALWAYS FAIR WEATHER)which all but ended the MGM musical -as well as the contracts of some of its major participants- the movie generally received critical praise in its day and still has a "fan base" today. The credits for the film are eye-opening.It is based on a landmark play of 1927 entitled THE ROAD TO ROME which dealt humorously with Hannibal's march on Rome but was in fact a plea against war.It's author, Robert Sherwood, died the year of the film's release and amongst his other stage and screen work are titles such as The Petrified Forest,Idiot's Delight, Rebecca and The Best Years of Our Lives.Though much changed to accommodate the aquatic talents of Esther Williams and the form of the screen musical, generous amounts of Sherwood's witty and even racy dialogue survive. At a time when the period epic was in its full CinemaScope bloom (egs. THE ROBE, THE Egyptian) it's refreshing to see the genre being lampooned in such a tongue-in-cheek manner. Esther even spoofs her own underwater ballets in the I HAD A DREAM sequence (the best song in a somewhat underrated Burton Lane score)and has another dramatically exciting underwater scene in a later reel. Vocally strong as ever,Howard Keel is robust and virile as Hannibal (who in one funny scene reveals a fear of water and an inability to swim-surely an "in-joke" considering his co-star!)and the supporting cast (Marge and Gower Champion,George Sanders,Norma Varden,William Demarest and Richard Hayden) all get great moments. The direction is by one of MGM's best musical directors, George Sidney (The Harvey Girls, Show Boat, Pal Joey) and the inventive wide screen cinematography is by Paul C. Vogel and Charles G.Clarke,two of the best D.P.'s of the day. (Clarke shot CAROUSEL for Fox magnificently one year later).Written for the screen by MGM contractor Dorothy Kingsley (Seven Brides,Kiss me Kate)and budgeted at possibly the biggest figure for an MGM musical at that time, the film is a visual stunner with unique merits which outweigh its flaws.(One complaint- MGM cut the reprise of I HAVE A DREAM by Williams(dubbed) and Sanders (not dubbed) which was followed by a sizzling dance by the Champions.A faded out-take on the laserdisc edition at least allows buffs to view this now!)