Dance critic’s TCM Fest 2015

Dance · Film

On the cusp of the sixth annual TCM Classic Film Festival set to open Thursday night in Hollywood, our dance-critic’s eye is finding at least two strong movie musical entries — with great cinematic dance.

42ND STREET (1933), Saturday March 28, 11:30 am

“Naughty, gaudy, bawdy, sporty” 42ND STREET gets a facelift with the world premiere of a new restoration. Originally, Warner Bros. production head Darryl F. Zanuck had planned to film Bradford Ropes’ steamy “putting-on-a-show” novel as a straight comedy. Realizing the right musical numbers could make the picture stand out, he recruited dance director Busby Berkeley—on the verge of quitting Hollywood after eight films—to create a series of eye-popping numbers to songs like “Shuffle Off to Buffalo” and the title tune. For the first time, Berkeley demonstrated the potential of the film musical, creating numbers that, though ostensibly part of a big Broadway show, would never fit on any stage. (d. Lloyd Bacon, 89m, Digital) world premiere restoration courtesy of Warner Bros.

KISS ME KATE (3-D version, 1953), Sunday March 29, 7:30 pm

MGM could have called its musical version of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew “The Taming of 3D.”  The picture was shot simultaneously in 3D, standard Academy format and widescreen. Director George Sidney produced a 3D wonder, using ceilings and forced perspective to showcase the technique dramatically. Howard Keel and Kathryn Grayson are bickering exes who carry their fights on stage while playing Petruchio and Kate. Ann Miller as the soubrette whose flirtations complicate matters. They perform a collection of classic Cole Porter hits, including “So in Love” and “Too Darn Hot.” In addition, Porter gave MGM “From This Moment On,” a song from another show; for that number, choreographer Hermes Pan let Bob Fosse stage his all-too-brief dance duet with Carol Haney. (d. George Sidney, 109m, Digital 3D)

TCM Classic Film Festival | Hollywood Boulevard | Mar 26-29 | schedule

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