kiss-me-kate-dec-16thABCD members have long requested a musical, so tonight we bring you one of the best! Kiss Me Kate is a treat of direction from George Sidney, and Cole Porter’s lyrics sparkle with wit. Kathryn Grayson (Katharine) and Howard Keel (Petruchio) are the stars of a stage musical version of The Taming of the Shrew, and life off-stage starts to mirror that on stage. Fabulous song and dance routines, with Ann Miller in a supporting role as Bianca. Watch out for a youthful Bob Fosse who gives a foretaste of brilliance to come. (Cert U)
Dir: George Sidney 105 mins USA 1953
This screening will start at 7.30 p.m.

Programme Notes

Thursday December 16th 2010

USA 1953 105 minutes Cert. U

When tonight’s film was first released, originally in ‘NaturalVision’ 3D (a first for MGM), its dazzling score and lyrics by Cole Porter, based on his own Broadway musical, were the standout features of what was enjoyed by audiences across the USA as a bright and tricked-up backstage/onstage parallel version of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew.

Also remarkable was the way director George Sidney, burdened by the contemporary fashion among major Hollywood studios for films to be shot in both 3D and ‘normal’ 2D formats, overcame the technical challenges he was faced with in the making of the film. With considerable flair, he employed a succession of frames within frames (doors, windows, proscenia) to accentuate the depth and separation of the visual planes in his set pieces and, for the stage scenes, he shot them head-on from what he imagined might have been the third row of a notional audience. The Chinese box play-within-a play construction is smartly worked out and even extends to a character called Cole Porter (played by Ron Randell) scoring a Broadway musical!

The songs, well known and loved by many, include ‘So in Love’, ‘Always True to You in My Fashion’, ‘Brush Up Your Shakespeare’, featuring Keenan Wynn, and an outstanding rendition of ‘From This Moment On’ (the only song not from the Broadway production) highlighting Carol Haney and a young Bob Fosse. Ann Miller’s brilliantly choreographed dance numbers (variously partnered by Tommy Rall, Bob Fosse and Bobby Van) are the champagne that gives this film its added sparkle.

Acknowledgements: Paul Taylor, Time Out, ‘ Anon, Leonard Maltin’s Movie Review, Anon, Variety

‘’The Taming of the Shrew is almost the only one of Shakespeare’s comedies
that has a proper plot and a downright moral’’
attrib. William Hazlitt, 1817, Characters of Shakespeare’s Plays

Lilli Vanessi (Katharine) – Kathryn Grayson
Fred Graham (Petruchio) – Howard Keel
Lois Lane (Bianca) – Ann Miller
Lippy – Keenan Wynn
Bill Calhoun (Lucentio) – Tommy Rall

Director – George Sidney
Producer – Jack Cummings
Screenplay – Dorothy Kingsley
Cinematography – Charles Rosher
Original Music & Lyrics – Cole Porter



“Well done William!”

“Brilliant – we need more of these!!”

“Fabuloso – what a great end to the term”

“Great, excellent”

“Great – brilliant memories”

“Just as good as I remembered it when I first saw it.”

“Excellent entertainment”

“Fantastic – all very well acted, particularly the Shakespeare-quoting ‘heavies’.”

“After a wooden start, the momentum built up [to] a cavalcade of superb dance, music and comedy!”

“Pity the censors were too scared to let us hear [the verse]”

According to the Kinsey Report

Every average man you know

Prefers to play his favourite sport

When the temperature is low …

but still highly enjoyable, perfectly cast and perfectly acted.”

“A prime Hollywood example of a musical within a musical. although the real stars were Cole Porter’s songs amongst the sheer absurdity of the squeaky-clean fun. Check out the stiletto [high] heels that sounded like tap-dancing shoes!”

“Fewer doors than a French farce and more tights than a troupe of acrobats!”

“Enjoyed the show but the parallel story less. Great dancing, though.”

“Was this a whole new dimension?”

“Good fun but the 3D non-effects [were] very annoying.”

“Those who like this sort of thing will …”

“It’s so hard to fathom the American mind – at first sight naive, brash and technically wonderful but maybe [also] extremely cynical and sophisticated. As politically incorrect as Shakespeare – but in inverted commas.”

“OK in small doses – just overpowering”


A:16, B:9, C:4, D:0, E:0 to give 85%