The Best Old Movies on a Big Screen This Week: NYC Repertory Cinema Picks, November 3-December 6

repertory-always-fair-weather

It’s Always Fair Weather (1955)
Directed by Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly
Donen’s last, unhappy collaboration with Kelly may be their best. It picks up where On the Town’s shore-leave rambunctiousness leaves off, with Army buddies Kelly, Dan Dailey and Michael Kidd celebrating the end of the war and vowing to meet again in exactly ten years—but their reunion sees “punk” Kelly, “snob” Dailey and “hick” Kidd projecting their self-loathing outwards with the bitterness of The Best Years of Our Lives, or even John O’Hara. Kelly and Donen sparred during the production and never worked together again (though Kelly later married Donen’s ex-wife), but at least in It’s Always Fair Weather the disappointments of aging and postwar life are eventually reconciled, in a live-TV melee that beats Frank Tashlin to its hard, glossy slapstick satire of a booming consumer and entertainment culture with broad Bakelite smiles. All this takes place up and down a backlot Third Avenue, complete with rickety Elevated—a Hopperesque street grid that really does feel like it’s a few blocks east of the Times Square of Guys and Dolls, MGM’s other great NYC musical of 1955. The camera takes in blocks at a time to keep up with Kelly’s highest degree-of-difficulty choreography: he tap-dances with his feet in trash can lids and roller skates, the latter in the incredible routine for Comden and Green’s sweet, clever “I Like Myself,” where he stops traffic and glides on air to thoughts of Cyd Charisse (whose own showcase, in a boxing gym with a sweaty harem of dese-dem-dose backup dancers, is limber, precise and hilarious). A major American film. Mark Asch (December 1, 4:30pm, 7pm, 9:15pm at BAM’s “That’s Entertainment!: The MGM Musical, Part II”)

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