Brush up your antiquated novelties, courtesy of this BFI revival. We open on the full three-dimensional munificence of the leading man's living room: with Cole Porter (actually Randell) looking on, silver-tongued impresario Fred Graham (Keel) tries to court his combative ex-wife Lilli Vanessi (Grayson) into starring opposite him in a musical version of The Taming of the Shrew. The effect is spoilt just a little when Lilli's eager-beaver rival Lois Lane (Miller) arrives to hoof it around the couch to the tune of 'Too Darn Hot'. And so the show goes on. This 42nd Street-style, backstage stuff is tantamount to social realism so far as musicals are concerned. Certainly the film never attempts the cinematic fancifulness of, say, Minnelli or Donen, and Sidney's tricksiest 3-D application is to have his players throw objects at the camera. With querulous lovers, waspish dialogue and erudite hoodlums for comic relief, it's really a screwball musical, rooted in the 'comedies of remarriage' of a decade earlier. Think The Awful Truth, The Palm Beach Story and especially His Girl Friday; and as a musical resetting, rather than a travesty, this is to Shrew almost what High Society is to The Philadelphia Story. That said, all the sophistication here is in the original play and score, though the final number, 'From This Moment On', choreographed by a young Bob Fosse, is admittedly quite something.
Cast and crew