Monday, October 4, 2010

Anchors Aweigh (1945)

Even if you haven't heard of Anchors Aweigh, there's a good chance you've seen the classic scene with Gene Kelly dancing with Jerry the Mouse. To give you an idea of how groundbreaking that sequence was, it was filmed 19 years before Dick Van Dyke danced with penguins in Mary Poppins. Anchors Aweigh is far from fantasy, however. The Jerry mouse number occurs as Kelly is telling school children about his adventures in the navy.

The story centers on sailors Joe (Kelly) and Clarence (Frank Sinatra) on a few days shore leave. Joe is a ladies' man so the insecure Clarence tags along hoping Joe can help him get a girl. They soon meet the lovely aunt of a young boy who was trying to run away to join the navy and Clarence falls for her right away. Joe tries to get away to find his girl Lola in town, but keeps getting pulled back out of pity for the kid and Clarence. Joe makes a promise he can't keep to get Aunt Susie an audition in Hollywood and that sets the rest of the plot in motion.

Kelly's only Oscar nomination came from this film, though just seven years later he won on honorary Oscar for his contributions to film choreography. Just as in Singin' in the Rain and An American in Paris, Kelly is the dancing jock, making grace seem manly. It's also delightfully odd seeing Sinatra as the timid Clarence as his real life reputation was as a gruff and intimidating man. Playing a service man again in 1953's From Here to Eternity, he won his Oscar as the hard-nose scrapper Private Angelo Maggio.

Anchors Aweigh is an amusing show that's definitely worth watching again.

102 to go...

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