On the Town

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.

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  • ★★★★ review by Joe on Letterboxd

    I sometimes have a hard time getting into really broad musical comedies like this, and a lot of the wacky mugging is a little grating. But it ended up winning me over in the end, due to a variety of factors.

    First is the movie's refreshingly unfussy smart-alecky tone, which is perfect for comedy and floats the rare quieter more "serious" moments really effectively. There are funny pop-culture references and even some proto-Laugh-In blackout gags. Even the ending is pretty hip - nobody gets married, nobody vows to be different from now on.

    The late-40s New York City location shooting is just gorgeous, and pretty radical for the time. I loved that early shot of a Walgreens.

    The ballet sequence is a perfect showcase for Gene Kelly, like sort of a warm-up for similar scenes in movies like Singin' in the Rain and An American in Paris.

    I just don't understand how we're supposed to believe that Frank Sinatra has never been to New York before.

  • ★★★★★ review by Sam Van Hallgren on Letterboxd

    Oh, joy.

    Come for Kelly and Sinatra; stay for Betty Garrett's Brunhile "Hildy" Eserhazy, Vera-Ellen's Ivy Smith and Ann Miller's ... legs. Especially after watcng the leaden direction of The Music Man last week, the breezy confidence of Kelly and Donen's direction here was a revelation. An abundance of wit and good cheer.

    Nearly five year son was thrown a bit by the identical sailors' outfits - often confusing Kelly for Sinatra for Munshin - but it didn't dampen his enthusiasm for the film at all. He cackled wildly at the sight of the sailors disguised in ladies clothes, dancing outside the "coochie" club and put on his own Kelly-inspired dance on his way to bed, singing made up lyrics to the tune of New York, New York, It's a Wonderful Town.

  • ★★★★★ review by trolleyfreak on Letterboxd

    The energetic male stars of Take Me Out To The Ball Game (Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra and Jules Munshin) were reunited later in the same year for one of the all-time great movie musicals.

    Kelly and Stanley Donen joined forces behind the camera to bring the story of three sailors on a days' shore leave in New York to the screen.

    The piece combines humour with satire and pathos to deliver a complete package that works on every level.

    Magnificent old-fashioned entertainment..

  • ★★★½ review by Ryster on Letterboxd

    Here's the thing with On the Town, it's a rather silly musical but it was very enjoyable. I think Frank Sinatra is one of the greatest singers in the world and here we get some good catchy songs, but there's a few silly or annoying songs. On the Town is about three sailors who have only got 24 hours in New York City and they plan to do everything but while on the subway Gene Kelly sees Vera-Ellen on a poster and falls head over heels in love and he'll stop at nothing to find her. So he drags Frank Sinatra and the other one along to try and find her. On their journey Frank Sinatra and the other one find girls they like and laughter and songs ensues. Actually a funny film, I laughed quite a bit at some of the jokes and even some of the songs. Every character is enjoyable and there's not a bad or un-likeable character in sight. Some of the songs go on a bit and the whole stage-play scene I thought was pointless and quite boring. There's a scene where Gene Kelly sees a poster for a play and thinks that it's about his day in New York, the following scene has no talking, only dancing and music. The dancing is amazing and I what I saw was entertaining but the whole scene is just exactly the same as we've already seen the whole film just in stage play form. But besides that a very enjoyable musical.

  • ★★★½ review by Anna Imhof on Letterboxd

    Vera-Ellen is one of the great unsung dancers of Old Hollywood. Maybe not someone with huge star appeal, but I enjoy her presence and I have always liked her with Astaire, and now it’s time to check out some of her films without le man, even if it means that I have to deal with Gene Kelly’s toddler face for an hour or two.

    The energy of the film, and the nostalgic feel that is attached to it, quickly drew me in. The premise works beautifully for this sort of musical—three young sailors (Kelly, Sinatra and Munshin, who's slowly beginning to feel like a relative after seeing him in Silk Stockings over and over and over again) are on a 24-hour-leave in New York City, and as they’re exploring the town, in their silly little sailor outfits and with stupid grins on their faces, so happy and dumb, you just can’t not be excited with them.

    I would have given this a chance much sooner if I would have known this wasn’t really a Gene Kelly picture, but an ensemble piece through and through. I liked the colorful characters—especially the females—they’re the sort of people one likes to spend some time with, people you might even miss once the show is over. Everyone gets their moment to shine. I enjoyed all the songs (even the one with the yodeling!) and almost all of the dance numbers (my favorite probably being Main Street, the simple partnered dance between Vera-Ellen and Kelly at the dance studio), and it was beautifully shot (loved the colors too, so much pink!). I also happen to like Ann Miller quite a bit, I like a lot of these Old Hollywood dancing girls. They worked very hard and didn't always get the credit they deserved…

    This is also the first time I ever found Frank Sinatra entertaining as an actor, maybe because he played such an awkward nerd. I feel that fits him better, he never worked for me as a tough macho man or the smooth womanizer. And when he opens that big mouth and starts to sing… well, what can you say? He sang beautifully.

    I will never like Gene Kelly and will never agree that he was that great a dancer, but since I know what I'm in for he doesn’t bother me much. To me he has little charisma, so as part of an ensemble, he disappears. It’s when we’re forced to look at him when I start having a problem, forced to because he’s the only person in the frame or because he's begging so hard for our attention, but I’m not gonna dissect the situation, we all know I would only end up writing five pages about Astaire, so yeah… Kelly’s alright. He’s just so terribly uncool.

    But this was supposed to be uncool. And it was great fun. A fun movie that made me feel fun feelings amidst unexpected—if not unusual—chaos in my life. Just a proper musical, you know? And one that worked for me, tonight.

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