7.6/10
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On the Town (1949)

Three sailors on a day of shore leave in New York City look for fun and romance before their twenty-four hours are up.

Writers:

Adolph Green (screenplay), Betty Comden (screenplay) | 3 more credits »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Gene Kelly ... Gabey
Frank Sinatra ... Chip
Betty Garrett ... Brunhilde Esterhazy
Ann Miller ... Claire Huddesen
Jules Munshin ... Ozzie
Vera-Ellen ... Ivy Smith
Florence Bates ... Mme. Dilyovska
Alice Pearce ... Lucy Shmeeler
George Meader George Meader ... Professor
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Storyline

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 A.L.Beneteau <albl@inforamp.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

M-G-M's Big Color By Technicolor Musical ! See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

30 December 1949 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Un día en Nueva York See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$2,111,250 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Ann Miller commented in a TCM interview that at least one take of her big tap number to "Prehistoric Man" was ruined because of her own costume. She had been dancing very close to the large dinosaur , and during a series of her trademark tap spins, the flared skirt she was wearing brushed against some of the bones and brought the entire exhibit crashing to the ground. Filming was halted for a considerable time while it was put back together. See more »

Goofs

When they are brought to a corner of the crowded night club, they are sitting at a round table. Next to them is a round table that has a burning candle stick. A girl is being swung around over them, blowing out the candle. When the 6 actors decide to get up and join them the candle which had previously been burned out is now lit and has a hurricane glass over it. See more »

Quotes

Brunhilde Esterhazy: I bet we're losing them now.
Chip: Losing them? They're multiplying like shmoos.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Before the actual credits the film opens with an embossed card on a silver dish, reading: "A Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Silver Anniversary Picture." Most of the studio's 1949 releases opened with this. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted (2012) See more »

Soundtracks

Prehistoric Man
(uncredited)
Music by Roger Edens
Lyrics by Adolph Green and Betty Comden
Sung by Ann Miller
Danced by Ann Miller, Jules Munshin, Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, and Betty Garrett
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Experiencing as much New York as One Can
22 September 2006 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

On the Town is one great fast moving musical, one in which the dance is supreme. Not surprising because this is the first film that Gene Kelly had total creative control over.

On the Town ran for 462 performances on Broadway from December, 1944 to February, 1946 and it's score was composed by Leonard Bernstein with lyrics by Adolph Green and Betty Comden. Naturally the book included some topical war time references for 1944 which were eliminated in 1949. So was about half of Bernstein's score, but Comden and Green wrote the lyrics for the new songs also with Roger Edens. That certainly helped keep the continuity.

Of course the signature song of the Broadway score, New York, New York was kept. The rest of the score is really not all that great in terms of marketability. But Kelly was interested in giving the dance center stage in this film and he succeeded admirably.

Of course of the six principals in the cast he had both Ann Miller and Vera-Ellen, a pair of very good dancers to help.

The plot of On the Town is threadbare. Three sailors, Kelly, Frank Sinatra, and Jules Munshin get 24 hour shore leave and they are determined to experience as much New York as they can. That opening number with the men pouring out of the ship on the Brooklyn Navy Yard dock is unforgettable and then Kelly, Sinatra, and Munshin singing and dancing New York, New York.

Munshin attracts the attention of Ann Miller who finds his resemblance to a caveman recreation astounding. Her big moment on the screen is tap dancing to Primitive Man ending with Munshin destroying one of the dinosaur skeletons in the Museum of Natural History.

This was Munshin's third film after MGM signed him up for a small role in Easter Parade. He was a borscht belt comedian who got his big break on Broadway in Call Me Mister. With Sinatra and Kelly in Take Me Out to the Ballgame before On the Town, he was a pretty funny fellow. He spent his career equally between the stage, screen, and later television. Perhaps it's why he's not really remembered today by film fans that much.

Sinatra catches the eye of cabdriver Betty Garrett. One big reason for rewriting the score was in the original play there was no ballad for Sinatra's character. Besides the ensemble numbers, Sinatra and Garrett sing Come Up to My Place from the original score and You're Awful, Awful Nice to be with. Nothing terribly memorable, in fact Frank never recorded any of the material from On the Town. But to have in the film and not give him one ballad would have been ridiculous.

It's the dance numbers that make On the Town. Besides the ones previously mentioned, Kelly and Vera-Ellen do a salute to their common small town in Main Street and there is the lengthy A Day in New York ballet. The year before Kelly had shown what he was really capable of creating in the Slaughter on Tenth Avenue ballet in Words and Music. Now that he had complete creative control and he made maximum use of it. Of course this was nothing compared to what he was to create in later films.

Vera-Ellen probably is best known for being Rosemary Clooney's sister in White Christmas. But she's shown to far better advantage here. I'm surprised Kelly did not team with her more often.

On the Town is really helped a lot by the location shooting in New York. Director Stanley Donen very skillfully blended his shots of well known New York landmarks like the Brooklyn Navy Yard, the Brooklyn Bridge, Wall Street, Columbus Circle with the later interiors done on the MGM soundstage. Really great job of editing.

To see New York in 1949 you couldn't ask for three better guides than those sailors on a 24 hour pass.


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