Sunday, May 18, 2014

Tonight's Movie: Hit the Deck (1955) - A Warner Archive Blu-ray Review

HIT THE DECK (1955) is one of a fairly small number of MGM musicals which I'd never caught up with over the years. Watching this colorful CinemaScope film via the Warner Archive's great-looking new Blu-ray was a real treat.

HIT THE DECK follows in the tradition of MGM's ANCHORS AWEIGH (1945) and ON THE TOWN (1949), as three sailors on shore leave look for romance and manage to get into trouble.

Chief Mate Bill Clark (Tony Martin) is anxious to see his girlfriend Ginger (Ann Miller), but he's marriage-shy and Ginger's tired of waiting for him to settle down.

Danny Smith (Russ Tamblyn), who is secretly the son of an admiral (Walter Pidgeon), gets into trouble defending his sister Susan (Jane Powell) from the advances of lecherous married man Wendell Craig (Gene Raymond), with whom she has an "audition." Danny falls for Carol (Debbie Reynolds), a dancer, and Susan falls for Danny's pal Rico (Vic Damone).

The shore patrol goes looking for the men after they brawl with Craig, with comical results. Naturally, all is neatly wrapped up by the end of the movie's 112 minutes.

The plot, loosely inspired by a Broadway musical, really isn't much -- but it really doesn't matter. The movie's a feast for the eyes and ears. When Powell, Miller, and Reynolds line up to sing "Why Oh Why?" in their gorgeous black, green, and red dresses by the great Helen Rose -- well, all I can say is "That's Entertainment!"

Reynolds and Tamblyn are adorable together and have a great acrobatics-filled number in a fun house. Martin croons "More Than You Know," Powell sings "Sometimes I'm Happy," and most of the cast gathers for "Ciribiribin."

Miller has a great steamy number -- sans tap shoes! -- in "The Lady From the Bayou," and the rousing "Hallelujah" finale is absolutely stunning. The ladies all wear variations of gold and blue dresses to deliver the song, which builds to a fantastic sequence where Miller taps with the troops. Hermes Pan was the film's choreographer.

The Blu-ray shows off the beautiful widescreen Eastmancolor photography of George Folsey to great effect. One of my favorite moments was Martin's "More Than You Know," sung in Miller's apartment decorated in shades of pink, purple and green. Pure eye candy.

The always-welcome Walter Pidgeon adds some fun comic moments, as the shore police mistake the admiral for his son, who shares his name. The film was a reunion for Jane Powell and Walter Pidgeon, who had also played father and daughter in HOLIDAY IN MEXICO (1946) nearly a decade before.

Powell and Reynolds, who share an April 1st birthday, had previously played sisters in TWO WEEKS WITH LOVE (1950) and ATHENA (1954). The film also reunited Powell with past costars Vic Damone (RICH, YOUNG AND PRETTY, ATHENA) and Russ Tamblyn (SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS).

HIT THE DECK was directed by Roy Rowland.

The Blu-ray includes an unrestored (very orange) trailer and chapter stops at the songs.

Musical fans will find HIT THE DECK an upbeat, pleasing confection, and it's surely never looked any better than on its new Blu-ray release.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered at the Warner Archive website.

1 Comments:

OpenID vienna said...

Great musical. Love the Vincent Youmans songs.

11:29 PM  

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