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What An Absolutely 'Wunderbar' Way to 'Brush Up Your Shakespeare'!
gaityr15 October 2002
KISS ME KATE is quite easily one of the two most famous musical 'adaptations' of Shakespeare for the stage and screen (the other being WEST SIDE STORY). Focusing on a theatre company putting up a musical version of 'The Taming of The Shrew', the film traces the main relationship between director/leading man Fred Graham (Howard Keel) and his ex-wife/leading lady Lilli Vanessi (Kathryn Grayson) as they respectively portray the Shakespearean roles of Petruchio and Katherine (the Shrew to be tamed, of course!). Throw in a deliciously naughty second lead actress Lois Lane (Ann Miller) and her gambling-addict beau Bill Calhoun (Tommy Rall), as well as a couple of gangsters (played brilliantly by Keenan Wynn and James Whitmore) mistakenly chasing after Fred 'sweetie' for Bill's latest debt, and opening night proves to be quite a big event, both onstage and off. Can the feuding Fred and Lilli, still in love with each other despite Fred's ego and Lilli's fiance, get their act together before the curtain goes down on the play?

I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed this film... yes, even having already seen the London stage version of the musical earlier this year. There are, of course, personal reasons that bias me towards the film and to perhaps set out watching it with every intention of liking it (which surely helps!). First of all, I have no qualms in admitting I'm probably the biggest Ann Miller fan there is, and there's no doubting also that KISS ME KATE is possibly the best showcase of her talents and beauty there is. Secondly, I've been listening to the film soundtrack on constant repeat for months now, influenced by an interest kindled by the musical and discovering Miller. It helps that I can sing along to most of the songs and know the lyrics--no struggling to figure out what Grayson is singing in her operatic voice, and no attempting to acclimatise to new tunes. I already know the Cole Porter music, from lyrics to tune to score, and love it. So yes, perhaps I *was* predisposed to loving this film--how could I *not*, particularly with Miller dancing and singing my favourite songs in the film?

Still, I firmly believe that there's a lot more to recommend KISS ME KATE than the ravings of a fangirl. Cole Porter really outdoes himself here with a toe-tappingly catchy score: even songs like 'I've Come To Wive It Wealthily In Padua' and 'We Open In Venice' have the same sparkling lyrics, the same ability to catch the ear as the better-known 'Wunderbar' and 'From This Moment On'. Then there's the jazz-influenced 'Too Darn Hot' and the sweet ballad 'Why Can't You Behave?'. I honestly believe that Porter's score for KISS ME KATE is better than the one he wrote for HIGH SOCIETY, because he makes fine use of reprisals and bridges. Take for example Rall singing a short reprisal of Miller's 'Why Can't You Behave?' back to her before she replies with a wonderful segue into 'Always True To You In My Fashion'--the reprisal marks the couple and the relationship and works wonderfully well.

Of course, it helps also that the cast for KISS ME KATE is really most impressive. Keel, with his big big voice and untrained natural talent, fills the screen (and his tights!) with his masculine presence. He struts, swaggers, and yet shows his vulnerable side believably enough to make us *like* his character, ego or no ego. Grayson, so much weaker against Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra in ANCHORS AWEIGH a decade earlier, really comes into her own here--she's excellent as Lilli, swooning at the right moments, strident during the rest, and actually bites out 'I Hate Men' with conviction... you certainly wouldn't imagine it possible of the actress who gave us the rather simpering Aunt Susie in the aforementioned Kelly/Sinatra film! I'm also partial to Tommy Rall, whose soaring athletic ability just crackles off the screen. It's such a thrill to see Miller get matched with someone who can dance circles around most everyone else alongside her. They make the cutest couple in their two numbers together, with the energetic, exuberant dance to 'Why Can't You Behave?' definitely making one of my favourite film dance routines of all time.

This film is, of course, Miller's shining moment--a shame, considering she's still only second lead and yet really steals the film with her dancing and singing. I can understand why other reviewers don't like that the song 'Too Darn Hot' became a solo for her, but what works on the stage, quite frankly, won't have made it in the film. (Even in the musical I thought the song a rather inauspicious and irrelevant start to the second act.) Miller's 'Too Darn Hot' fandance tap is precisely what the title suggests, and the charm she always radiates in all her small roles sizzles through her sexy fringed costume and black lace fan as she dances all over the furniture. One of my favourite songs is also the *unbelievably* catchy 'Tom, Dick & Harry', and the version in the film is great fun.

The directing by George Sidney is solid, making the best of the choreography. Any apparently odd choices would have to be explained by the fact that the film was originally filmed in 3-D--imagine Miller's gloves and necklace flying into your lap, or the objects on the tavern table crashing off the screen when Grayson sweeps them off (while despising men, of course!). I really wish I could have the chance to see this film the way it was meant to be seen, in 3-D. Unfortunately, there's no way to get that effect on VHS and probably not DVD either.

Even so, KISS ME KATE is bright, splashy, flashy and colourful. It's breathtakingly happy eye-candy and drags only at a few moments when non-Shakespearean dialogue gets in the way. Considering the cleverness of its concept (it's a film about the staging of a musical version of the Shakespearean play), the film has little to no artistic pretension--in this way, it's a quintessential MGM musical... set, geared, intended to *entertain*. And entertain it does. With the vocal talents of Keel and Grayson, the incredible tapping of Miller and the soaring of Rall, all accompanied by an irresistible Porter score, let's hope this one makes it to DVD; it's definitely a keeper!
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If you are a dance fan
jshaffer-11 July 2004
This is my favorite musical, not for the dancing alone, but it is the best. The dancers, not just Ann Miller and Rall, but Bob Fosse, Bobby Van, and Carol Haney!! What more could any dance fan want? There is always something new to see, no matter how many times you have watched it. The lyrics are magnificent, tricky and intriguing. When Howard Keel, dressed in those gorgeous tights, sings about all the women he has known, he's a knockout. Grayson is not my favorite actress, but she can sing, and she and Keel make a wonderful pair. I will admit that the music is great, but folks, catch the dancing!! The final dance number with the six dancers is superb, but how can you watch all six at once? You have to watch it several times, particularly the pair of Carol Haney and Bob Fosse.
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Kiss Me, Kate Is Still Great!
darkinvader452102 March 2004
Kiss Me, Kate was first released at the time that the movie screens were exploading into large formats to get people away from their T.V. sets and back into the theaters, and 3-D films came out of hiding and the only musical film to be shot in the 3-D format was Kiss Me, Kate, and stereophonic sound, to me, was better in those days than it is today, but the film gave everyone in it the chance to do their finest work, but it's a shame that they will not release a 3-D Version of this film on Home Video. The distributors would make a fortune!

Everyone knows the plot of Kiss Me, Kate, so there's no sense in going into that. Kathryn Grayson, Hollywood's finest singer of all time replaced Patricia Morrison who played Lilli on Broadway, and Howard Keel replaced Alfred Drake who played Fred Graham on Broadway, and Ann Miller replaced Lisa Kirk who played Lois on Broadway, and it's not too well known but Lisa Kirk dubbed Everything's Coming Up Roses for Rosalind Russell in the movie version of Gypsy!

Tommy Rall who replaced Harold Lang in the Broadway version, to me, was never given a fair chance in Hollywood. An excellent singer and versatile dancer, but still he shines in his work in Kiss Me, Kate and for his work in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers as the brother Frank who got upset when he was called by his real name.

This movie is a good example as to why Broadway stars are not necessarily good for repeating their Broadway roles on the screen. The cast in this movie is excellent in their acting, singing and dancing and I can not picture the Broadway cast repeating their roles in the movie version. To me, it just wouldn't work!

Casting Ann Miller in the role of Lois Lane was a good break for Ann Miller since she was always given roles in past movies that showed her off as a gal who had an overly-obnoxious appetite for the opposite sex. This film gave her a chance to display her full range of talent which had in the past been overlooked, but what can a person say about her number Too Darn Hot that burned up the screen and made Lilli [Kathryn Grayson] furious with her co-star Fred-er-rick Gray-ham [Howard Keel] to the point that she called him a louse of stage in front of the cast in the play! She couldn't call him what Patricia Morrison called Alfred Drake in the Broadway play because in those days the Hayes Office wouldn't allow Kathryn Grayson to call Howard Keel a ba****d!

Keenyn Wynn and James Whitmore played the comical gangsters that were to collect a marker from Howard Keel which was really signed by Tommy Rall and when they do their number Brush Up Your Shakespeare, it's hilarious. Not because Wynn can't sing and dance, he can, but because James Whitmore gave it all he could, but faked the number beautifully, and Whitmore had the good sense never to perform in a musical ever again, but together they were excellent in their comedic performance as the gangsters in the film.

So, you guys who distribute this movie - give us guys and gals a break and release this in the original wide-screen 3-D version with stereophonic sound and let everyone see why:

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Ann Miller Deserved an Oscar
drednm30 October 2005
Total delight from start to finish, this witty, musical version of The Taming of the Shrew. This show within a show is bright and splashy and boasts terrific performances, songs, dancing, and costumes. Howard Keel plays the egotistic Fred Graham who us mounting this new musical with ex-wife Lilli Vanessi (Kathryn Grayson) as his leading lady. The battling couple mirrors the battling couple in the play. All very clever.

As good as Grayson and Keel as however, Ann Miller totally steals the show as Lois Lane, the brassy chorus girl Fred has given a part (the younger sister) in the play. Mills is fantastic as she sings and dances her way through some great numbers: It's Too Darn Hot, From This Moment On, Always True to You, and Tom, Dick or Harry. Her opening number of Too Darn Hot is astounding as she swirls and taps around Cole POrter's living room and across his table tops. The skin tight tassled red outfit is probably the sexiest outfit Miller ever wore and she looks great. She was always denied the starring roles in MGM musicals which is a shame. MGM preferred the more demure types like Grayson or Judy Garland, Jane Powell, Debbie Reynolds for starring roles and Miller always got stuck playing the flashy friend or other woman.

Also good in this great musical are Keenan Wynn and James Whitmore as the thugs who get to sing Brush Up Your Shakespeare. Bob Fosse, Bobby Van, and Tommy Rall are the three dancers. Carol Haney and Jeanne Coyne show up for the From This Moment On number with Miller and the Boys. Ann Codee is the maid, Claude Allister is the butler, Willard Parker is Tex, Dave O'Brien is the stage manager, Kurt Kaznar is the stage father, and Ron Randell plays Cole Porter.

Originally done in 3-D, Kiss Me Kate is shock full of great songs and some of the best lyrics ever heard. For those of us growing up in the 50s, most of the songs from this musical are familiar hits, including Wunderbar, From This Moment On, Always True to You, and So In Love.

Kiss Me Kate is a textbook musical that works on all levels. Keel and Grayson were never better, Miller is outstanding, Whitmore and Wynn are fun, and Tommy Rall gets a couple of dance numbers (My Can't You Behave) that prove him to be one of the best dancers of his generation. The short dance solo with Fosse and Haney also presages much of Fosse's later groundbreaking choreography.

Not a false step in this film, which ranks as one of the great musicals.
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Wiving It Wealthily In Padua
bkoganbing18 July 2007
Though some would now argue for A Chorus Line, I believe that Kiss Me Kate is the greatest of backstage musical stories. That's because when Cole Porter took a collaborator, he took the best, the Poet that keeps 'em ravin', the Bard of Stratford-on-Avon.

When Porter was approached to collaborate with Samuel and Bella Spewack about doing a show based on Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew, he had hit a dry spell creatively. He had not had a decent Broadway hit in several years and according to the George Eells biography of him, was pretty tense throughout the gestation period. He also did not have the best of relations with the Spewacks. It was all forgotten when Kiss Me Kate had the biggest Broadway run of any of his show, 1077 performances and probably yielded more hit songs for him than any other production. It missed getting the Tony Award for Best Musical by another show that opened that season, South Pacific.

Most of that score remained intact for the MGM musical. One additional one from Porter's succeeding Broadway musical, Out of this World was added as a number for Tommy Rall, Bob Fosse, and Bobby Van, From This Moment On. Howard Keel and Kathryn Grayson as the leads sing the classic Porter hits, So In Love and Wunderbar with gusto and feeling.

Kiss Me Kate is one of the most difficult of musicals to act because you have to be good enough to act two roles simultaneously. The players have to be able to keep their backstage personas as they are speaking the lines from The Taming of the Shrew and have to do that convincingly also. Which is why I consider Kiss Me Kate one of the greatest of the Arthur Freed musicals.

The backstage story is nothing new. Howard Keel and Kathryn Grayson were once married to each other and are still So In Love, but she doesn't realize it. Keel has cast her in this musical adaption he's also directing of The Taming of the Shrew. Their story is worked rather nicely into the opening night of the production. Also the story of flirtatious Ann Miller and Tommy Rall who's incurred a gambling debt to some gangsters also gets worked into opening night. Rall signs Keel's name to an IOU and Keel who thinks fast on his feet uses that bit of deception to his own advantage.

Which brings me to those two lovable torpedoes, Keenan Wynn and James Whitmore, who get into the play and later get to sing one of Cole Porter's best satirical numbers and a personal favorite of mine, Brush Up Your Shakespeare. It's their own ode to their theatrical experience and also advice to the lovelorn that if you want to win the mate of your choice, learn the classics so you can wow them with rhetoric. Wynn and Whitmore are priceless. I also remember years ago Orson Welles was the guest star on a Dean Martin show and Welles and Dino did a pretty hilarious version of this song.

Of course it being a Cole Porter show, the more risqué lines of the lyrics are censored somewhat. Check both the original Broadway cast album and the album MGM did from the film and see what I mean.

I do so love this show and this film. It was originally done in 3-D and ought to be seen that way in a theater if possible.
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A vibrant musical delight.
Tommy-9225 February 2000
Great adaptation of the Broadway musical with a wonderful Cole Porter score. Yes the plot is just an excuse (though not a flimsy one) to put the numbers together, but so what? Kathryn Grayson and Howard Keel are very good as battling exes who are destined to be together, in the best tradition of Scarlett and Rhett, with a dash of His Girl Friday thrown in. Plus, it's all acted out amidst Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew, which provides for some great comic moments. Keenan Wynn and James Whitmore as the two gangsters are hilarious in the classic "Brush Up Your Shakespeare." Bob Fosse, who plays Bianca's blond suitor in the "Shrew" play-within-a-play, electrifies the screen with Carol Haney in their short but spectacular dance during the "From This Moment On" number. But it is Ann Miller who steals the show with her tradmark perkiness, charm and dynamite dancing skills, demonstrated memorably in another classic, "Too Darn Hot," and her numbers with Tommy Rall. Definitly recommended if you want a laugh, a tune to hum and a great show to see.
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Two excellent numbers deserve more credit.
jshaffer-130 April 2004
This movie is quite the best musical of the 50's, with more plot and excellent sideplay and bits. Of these bits, my favorites are Howard Keel's rendition of "Where Is the Life that Late I Led", and Keenan Wynn and James Whitmore's clever presentation of "Brush Up Your Shakespeare". Either one could stand alone, but when added to the dancing of Ann Miller, Bob Fosse, Bobby Van and Carol Chaney, you have a real winner. Very clever and upbeat. Kathryn Grayson was never a favorite of mine, but she is acceptable as Lily, and her number "I Hate Men" is a real winner. You know, this movie has so many excellent songs that it is very hard to pick just a few. "Always True to You, Darling, in my Fashion", "Tom, Dick and Harry"--Cole Porter was at the top of his form for this movie.
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One GREAT MGM Musical
bowiebks17 February 2004
The movie is not the same as the stage production but it stands on its own as one of the best MGM musicals of the era. Howard Keel and Katherine Grayson were never better in any other of their films; Ann Miller is her usual energetic and delightful self, plus you get to see some superb dancers who made very few films at all, and they are all at the top of their form: Tommy Rall, Jeannie Coyne, Bob Fosse, Carol Haney and Bobby Van. The big closing number, From This Moment On, is a showcase for those five dancers plus Miller...look out for Fosse and Haney's amazing hipster/be-bop flavored segment! That song was added to the movie from another Porter show and it is the highlight of this great movie!
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Ash-654 March 1999
What great stars! Keel and Grayson are excellent in this, with the lovely song So In Love, among many others. Tommy Rall is underused. He was in the same amount of numbers as the marvelous Ann Miller, but got minimum screen time, with the exception of Why Can't You Behave. Ann Miller was nothing short of awesome, with four numbers and ample attention in all of them. Too Darn Hot, Tom Dick or Harry, Why Can't You Behave, Always True To You In My Fashion, and From This Moment On (to a lesser degree) belong to her. A perfect movie for her fans. I urge you, run, don't walk to the nearest video store and pray that they have KISS ME KATE!
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Truly splendid movie, with fantastic songs, choreography and performances
TheLittleSongbird25 December 2009
Seriously, Kiss Me Kate is a truly splendid movie. My only complaint is that there are one or two slow scenes in the middle half. People might say it just lacks the energy and pizazz of a musical like Singin' In the Rain, maybe so. Singin' In the Rain is one of those wonderful, energetic and irresistible films. But Kiss Me Kate sparkles in a truly delightful and somewhat unique way, not only in the production values but in its performances, music and choreography.

The film looks absolutely fabulous. The cinematography is fluid, the sets colourful and the costumes lavish. Director George Sidney is right at home here, and makes splendid use of his stars by using cleverly disguised long takes. The music and songs by Cole Porter is outstanding, from a musical AND choreographic point of view Too Darn Hot and Brush Up Your Shakespeare have always stood out for me. The plot reads of a musical version of Taming of the Shrew, and is very effective.

The choreography is energetic and never pedestrian. And the performances are wonderful. I can never get enough of Howard Keel, he just has a charming screen persona and a beautiful singing voice. Here, as Fred he has rarely been better. As Lisa, Kathryn Grayson looks stunning and acts "difficult" perfectly. Comic gangsters James Whitmore and Keenan Wynn are also great in the saucy waltz Brush Up Your Shakespeare, but with Too Darn Hot it is Ann Miller who steals the show. All in all, splendid. 9/10 Bethany Cox
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Brilliant and Hilarious Musical
Scaramouche200427 December 2007
Warning: Spoilers
When Cole Porter hands his latest show, a jazzy and up beat adaptation of William Shakespeare's 'The Taming of the Shrew' to Broadway Director and egocentric thespian Fred Graham, he could never have imagined the chaos it would cause.

Firstly Fred, who naturally wants to play the lead, employs Lili, his bitter and vindictive ex-wife to play opposite him, despite the fact that they absolutely loathe one another. Secondly, cast in the role of his ex-wife's younger sister is Lois, a beautiful and sexy nightclub dancer who shares a mutual attraction with Fred. If this little love triangle isn't enough to ensure a troublesome and acrimonious performance, then the casting of Lois' boyfriend Bill at forth billing is the sour icing on an already festering cake.

But still thats not all, as when Bill, a no good gambler, spends the entire last day of rehearsal running up a $2,000 debt with a local racketeer, he exacts a special revenge on Fred, by signing his love rivals name on the IOU.

However in the true style of the accomplished trooper , The Show must go on, although the issues between the four main cast are not left behind in the dressing room as ad libbed dialogue, physical violence and quiet side remarks all make their way into the finished performance as do two gangsters sent by the racketeer to recover 'Fred's' Debt.

To see the domestic issues played out in Shakespearian costume and dialogue is a real treat and the four main stars of the film, Howard Keel, Kathryn Grayson, Ann Miller and Tommy Rall all handle their parts extremely well, but special mention to Keenan Wynne and James Whitmore as the two gangsters who in order to get their money are forced to don wigs, tights and frequent comical Shakespearisms to their thick New York accents.

However there is only one real star of this film and that's Cole Porter (and I don't mean the actor playing him). His great tunes and his clever sophisticated lyrics were second to none in the annuls of early 20th Century music and his offerings in Kiss Me Kate are no exception. If he had just written this musical and no other, he would still be considered the best. Too Darn Hot, So In Love, Wunderbar, Tom, Dick and Harry, I Hate Men and the excellent Life that Late I Lead are all showstoppers and a testament to his considerable talent as a song-smith.

The film itself was originally shot and released in the new 3-D gimmick in an effort to prise the old cinema audience back from their new fangled television sets. However before CGI effects the most impressive 3-D effect they could muster was members of the cast constantly tossing things into the audience. A banana, A tankard, a head scarf etc and after about the seventeenth time it became rather boring and old hat.

Despite this I have only ever seen the the normal version and the film is funny and entertaining enough to stand on it's own 2-D feet so there was no real need for the gimmick at all.

Give this one a go. Its great.
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Nearly a Legend; Great and Beloved Production by All Concerned; From MGM
silverscreen88818 June 2005
"Kiss Me Kate"is a late musical by fine songwriter Cole Porter, and some of the lyrics are melancholic. But this is also his mature masterwork, presenting such standards as "Wunderbar", "Where is the Life That Late I Led" "Why Can't You Behave", "So in Love", "Brush Up Your Shakespeare", "I've Come to Wive it Wealthily in Padua", and "Kiss Me Kate". On Broadway the starring role has been played by Alfred Drake and Keith Andes; Howard Keel was a bit too young for the role of a seasoned Broadway star, and his admission was that he had not mastered the classical accent that later serve him in several roles from Kismet on. He is paired here with his tempestuous ex-wife, a role played on Broadway by Patricia Morison, here impersonated with intelligence but less verve than needed by Kathryn Grayson. Other stalwarts in the surprisingly small cast include Ron Randell as Porter, Anne Miller superb as the ingenue, Tommy Rall, a superb dancer, as her sneaky boy-friend, Kurt Kasznar, James Whitmore, Keenan Wynn, Bobby Van and Bob Fosse and others such as Dave O'Brien and Willard Parker who do very well. The production moves forward very smoothly, under the able direction by George Sidney; Walter Plunkett's costumes look very good, the blocking is far-above- average and the lighting and sound deserving of awards--since the talents who worked on the movie include Edwin Willis, Cedric Gibbons, Sydney Guilaroff, Willian Tuttle, composer Saul Chapin and Hermes Pan. There is one dance number choreographed by Fosse, featuring Carol Haney, that is a show stopper and seems delightfully out-of-key with the other numbers, as does Ann Miller's audition number "Too Darn Hot', equally compellingly done. The comedy in the film to my mind is among the best ever put on film, since it proceeds from the characters and their purposes and is never 'added' as business. The hilarious middle scenes of the play involve two comedic stagestruck gunsels, sent by the man to whom Keel owes money, because Rall has been gambling and has signed his name to an IOU to a gangster. The two not only sing the "Bresh Up Yer Shakespeare" number with New York accents, they dance, end up on stage in the production being premiered and all but steal the film. Watch for innovative presentations in several of the within-the-play songs, including "We Open Again in Venice" and Keel's big number, sung to his ex-girlfriends, "Where is the Life That Late I led". Adaptation of the screenplay was done by Bella and Sam Spewak with considerable skill. , and it is far livelier than most musicals throughout. All that prevents this movie from being nominated one of the best of all musicals of all time in my judgment are the leads, who should have been Andes and Morison and also some way of taking the filming outdoors at least twice. But thanks to all concerned, this is an artistic triumph, on nearly every level; and the play is now a staple of the U.S, theatrical repertoire thanks to the clever book, Porter's more-than-clever and well-integrated lyrics and the delightful melodies it presents so seamlessly.
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Charming in 3D
sfboy10122 January 2004
I am lucky to have seen a beautiful print of "Kiss Me Kate" shown in 3D at the Stanford Theater in Palo Alto in June of 2000. It was shown in dual-projector format which resulted in a clear, bright picture. The 3D was accomplished with gray polarized glasses rather than the blue/red ones, so there was no weird chromatic aberration. It was spectacular. The dance numbers were a riot of talent, color, and depth!

Tell your local art-house theater that you promise to pack the house if they will put on a 3D festival, especially if the 3D print of "Kate" is the centerpiece, and they can do the dual-projection. Sad that "Kate" was never released in its true 3D glory. "Kate" was directed and shot with an image for each of your eyes -- seeing the flat version is like seeing only half the movie!
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Keep watching this one....
MartinHafer7 September 2012
I'll be honest--up until about halfway through this one, I wasn't all that impressed. It wasn't bad--just not all that good. However, the film started to gel and got much better as it progressed--and overall is an excellent musical. So, stick with it--it's worth the wait.

I assumed (incorrectly) that this was just a musical version of Shakespeare's "Taming of the Shrew". However, and here's the weird twist, it's a film about a Broadway production of "Taming of the Shrew" and there are some parallels between the off-stage antics and the play. Not surprisingly, this was originally a Broadway play--a very, very successful one.

It starts off with Howard Keel meeting with Cole Porter to discuss the play--only, in an odd twist, it's an actor playing Porter and why they didn't have Porter play himself is beyond me. They talk about having Keel's ex-wife (Katherine Grayson) co-star with him in the play--but she hates him. So, using another lady (Ann Miller), they manipulate her into taking the role. But not so fast--Grayson's character hates Keel's so much that she's constantly threatening to walk off--even in the middle of the show.

What helped me to like the film (most of which consists of their opening night) is the addition of a goofy subplot involving gambling debts and a couple of mobsters (Keenan Wynn and James Whitmore). They are great--quite funny and their terrible singing and dancing was the best part of the film (I REALLY liked their song "Brush Up Your Shakespeare"--the lyrics are great). Overall, a clever film that had few brilliant tunes but enough going for it to keep you happy. Well worth your time--even if some of Tommy Rall's lip syncing was really off.
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MGM's "Kate" is a merely competent version
funkyfry15 October 2002
Cole Porter's classic musical version of "The Taming of the Shrew" done as a film with MGM's best production values. Unfortunately, this also means Kathryn Grayson, whose performance as Kate is merely passable. But Howard Keel lives up to his star billing and delivers dynamite vocals and witty characterizations, as well as bringing the film much needed believability (he's the only one up there that seems like he actually COULD be playing Shakespeare). Ann Miller steals more than her share of the thunder as the show's ingenue (she'd been playing them for 20 years now). She does a lot of tough dancing with Fosse, Van and Co., leaving the heavy vocals for the others. Keenan Wynn is one of the gangsters who end up actors for a day, and he's living it up (on stage, the gangsters are usually the audience's favorite characters) Great songs, good show. Features the interpolated Porter tune "From this Moment On" -- the film's only improvement over the stage version.
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Hard to top
verna_zzz1 August 2006
Fantastic songs, wonderful dancing, great clowning and snappy dialogue make "Kiss me Kate" hard to top as one of the greatest movie musicals. Howard Keel is endearing and mellow-voiced as Fred/Petruchio and Kathryn Grayson alternately acerbic and tuneful as Lilli/Katherine. Ann Miller and her trio of male suitors dance with vigor and style. Yet among all this great talent, the greatest fun is provided by Keenan Wynn and James Whitmore as the courteous thugs sent to rough up Fred for supposedly defaulting on a gambling IOU. Their stumbling stage antics are hilarious, and the comic number "Brush up your Shakespeare" accompanied by apparently impromptu hoofing has to rate with Fred Astaire's and Judy Garland's "We're a couple of swells" as among the most memorable comic song performances on film. Cole Porter was at the top of his musical form with "Kiss me Kate", and it is hard to imagine how either the leads or support actors could be improved upon. Technically the film is at times a bit creaky by today's standards, and some of the staging is a bit puzzling unless you are aware that it was meant for "3D" viewing, but otherwise, top marks.
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Delightful Musical, Shameful Warner DVD
claudio_carvalho9 April 2012
The director and actor Fred Graham (Howard Keel) and the composer Cole Porter (Ron Randell) invite the talented but spoiled actress Lilli Vanessi (Kathryn Grayson) to perform Katherine in his musical version of "The Taming of the Shrew", where Fred has the lead role of Petruchio. Fred and Lili are divorced and he has also invited his affair, the promiscuous Lois Lane (Ann Miller), to perform Bianca.

While they are preparing for the opening night, Lois' boyfriend Bill Calhoun (Tommy Rall), who performs Lucentio in the play, tells to Lois that he lost a large amount gambling and he signed a bill (promissory note) using the name of Fred. Out of the blue, two gangsters come to the backstage to collect the debt from Fred.

Meanwhile Fred and Lilli have the same behavior in real life of Katherine and Petruchio on the stage. In the intermission, Lilli tells that she will leave the play; however, Fred lures the gangsters to keep Lilli acting.

"Kiss me Kate" is a delightful musical, with a version of "The Taming of the Shrew". The story of a divorced couple that argues all the time and are brought together to perform Petruchio and Katherine of William Shakespeare and have the same behavior in real life is very entertaining and funny.

Despite the restored image, unfortunately Warner released a shameful DVD in Brazil, without subtitles in the musical numbers (I checked and the subtitles are available only in Japanese)in a total disrespect to the Brazilian viewers. Shame on you, Warner! My vote is eight.

Title (Brazil): "Dá-me um Beijo" ("Give me a Kiss")
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Lyrics and Clarity
hitherejimbo-111 August 2007
I agree with all the enthusiastic comments of the previous reviewers but would like to add two more related ones. First, all the singers sang with perfect clarity. You could understand every word being sung - such a contrast to most of today's singers who tend to shout (or even screech) so that you cannot understand a word of the lyrics. Second, "Kiss Me Kate's" singers had to sing clearly so that one could hear the incredibly clever, witty, and elegant Cole Porter lyrics. No composer since has come anywhere near Cole Porter when it comes to sophisticated lyrics. Recall "lovely Lisa - she gave a new meaning to the Leaning Tower of Pisa" or 'If a Harris pat means a Paris hat" or all the lines from "Brush Up Your Shakespeare". "Kiss Me Kate" was made 54 years ago and just about the only survivor, James Whitmore now 86, has just opened on Broadway in a revival of another classic of the 1950's "The Man Who Came to Dinner." I'll be 90 next month and I mourn for the great musicals of the past.
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a delicious treat, witty and funny and lively
myriamlenys26 October 2019
Warning: Spoilers
(Review based on watching the usual 2D-version ; it seems as though there's also a 3D-version available.)

Excellent musical with outstanding music, outstanding choreography and outstanding performances. Part of the movie, which has a play-within-play structure, was inspired by Shakespeare's "The taming of the shrew". "The taming of the shrew" is not the most woman-friendly play around (on the contrary...) but the movie itself nicely mocks and subverts the misogynist message. In the end, both protagonists remember their former love and reconcile in spite of their differences ; it is pretty obvious that the male appreciates his female partner because she is fully his equal, both from a professional and a personal viewpoint.

Besides, ladies looking for some extra ammunition in the war between the sexes can do worse than watch Kathryn Grayson (as Katherine) sing "I hate men". It's a hilarious listing of the numerous defects, both visible and invisible, to be found in male lovers or husbands. (I've always cherished the line about Lassie.)

A charming thing, as irresistable as a box full of Belgian chocolates.
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A Broadway Classic Gets the MGM Gloss..;
ijonesiii14 December 2005
KISS ME KATE is the 1953 adaptation of the 1948 Cole Porter musical, revamped to accommodate the MGM stable of talent. This re-working of the musical follows an egomaniacal actor/director named Fred Graham (the late Howard Keel)who agrees to persuade his ex-wife and leading lady, Lilli Vanessi (Kathryn Grayson) to work with him in a musical version of TAMING OF THE SHREW and the complications that ensue in the mounting of the production as well as the parallels between the lives of Fred and Lilli to Petruchio and Kate. Several songs have been cut or re-thought, mostly to good advantage. Keel and Grayson's duet "So in Love" is absolutely gorgeous as is Keel's haunting rendition of "Were Thine That Special Face" and Grayson's surprisingly energetic "I Hate Men." Ann Miller had the best role of her career here as Lois Lane/Bianca and her rendition of "Too Darn Hot", compactly performed in Fred's living room is a classic. She also pairs well with Tommy Rall on "Always True to you Darling in My Fashion" and "Why Can't You Behave?" This movie also gave us the rare opportunity to see two of the greatest dancers of the 1950's, Bob Fosse and Carol Haney, dance a steamy pas de deux in "From this Moment On", which was clearly choreographed by Fosse, just a glimpse of his later genius. A delicious musical with superior singing and outstanding dance numbers and a pair of scene-stealing performances from Keenan Wynn and James Whitmore as a couple of Damon Runyan-type thugs make KISS ME KATE a classic on all levels.
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brilliant dancing, great production
yawnmower15 May 2012
Kiss Me Kate may be the greatest musical on film. Certainly, the dancing has never been equaled.

The songs by Cole Porter are classic, of course, and the orchestral arrangements are glorious. The book and lyrics cannot be topped. That's a good start.

But the cast makes this a shining gem. Howard Keel is handsome, debonair, and mischievous. Kathryn Grayson is at her most beautiful and in perfect voice. They have their usual wonderful chemistry.

But, for me, it is the dancing that shines brightest. The choreography is stunning -- much of it done by the dancers themselves (Bob Fosse, Bobby Van, Tommy Rall) because of their specific abilities. They are exuberant, athletic, and artistic. Combine them with the extraordinary Ann Miller and you have the greatest dance team ever born. The producers saw what they had and devised special numbers just to highlight the talents of this amazing group of dancers.

The pacing is fast and furious. The music is classic. The ensemble is great and they seem to be having the time of their lives.
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Good quality adaptation
maughancannes-212 February 2001
Cole Porter's stage classic becomes a generally successful movie, even though its theatrical roots are too strong for adaptation and the direction often strains too hard for (3-D) effect. (Originally intended as a 3-D release, it was released 'flat' - and is usually shown in this format in re-release.). Luckily the dancing is given equal prominence as the singing and the result - particularly in the ensemble numbers ("Tom, Dick & Harry" and "From This Moment On") - is fabulous. Special mention should be made of the adroit musical direction by Andre Previn and Saul Chaplin - the MGM musical sound at its most brilliant.
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Sheer Magic
Johnny B20 September 1998
Now here is a movie worth seeing over and over again till kingdom comes. This is in my opinion one of the best examples of what MGM can offer when it comes to musicals. The acting is excellent, the singing is brilliant, the music is marvellous and the dance routines are sensational. That's a great team you have there Keel-Grayson-Miller-Rall. The script is great and there are no dull moments, the comedy is tremendous and the amount of music squashed in the movie is super. Everything about this movie is great, but the music is out of this world, being witty and artistic at the same time. Cole Porter is simply the best and the treatment he is given by the stars and the production company are just superb. I could go on and on about this movie, being my favourite musical film, but I will sum it up in just two words (and note the warning in them) ENJOY IT!
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Now THAT'S Entertainment!
atlasmb5 June 2014
"Kiss Me Kate" is a film about actors putting on a play about actors putting on a play. This adaptation from Shakespeare is packed with cleverness and talent.

Let's start with the music. Cole Porter wrote music for this film in which Cole Porter writes music for a play that is an adaptation of Shakespeare. All that really matters is that Porter's tunes are clever, lively standards.

The film's dance sequences are some of the best in film. Ann Miller, Bob Fosse, Tommy Rall, Hermes Pan (and more!) display their joyful, energetic and even prodigious talents. For example, watch for Tommy Rall to virtually explode on stage from the wings in one number.

The costumes are colorful and eye catching. In addition, they accent the dancing extremely well.

For a light-hearted musical romp filled with action and talent, it is hard to beat "Kiss Me Kate".
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The MGM musical at its peak
jjnxn-130 April 2013
Sprightly colorful throughly wonderful musical. Keel is perfect in the male lead and Kathryn Grayson in what along with Magnolia in Show Boat is her best role is terrifically loose and animated, a break from her normal persona, a shame than that this was almost the end of her film career. Ann Miller sizzles in "It's Too Darn Hot" even if her being able to perform the full number in someone's living room is a bit of a stretch. Of note are the costumes all of which are designed to take full advantage of the vivid Technicolor by being every color of the rainbow and lordy those mens tights are snug! All the supporting players deliver the goods and while almost every song or dance routine is a terrific "From This Moment On" stands out as an exceptional number. A winner, see it!
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