Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly, is now available on Blu-ray from the Warner Archive.
IT'S ALWAYS FAIR WEATHER followed Donen and Kelly's TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALL GAME (1949), ON THE TOWN (1949), and, of course, SINGIN' IN THE RAIN (1952). It's the story of three close Army buddies who reunite a decade after the close of WWII and are dismayed to discover they no longer have anything in common -- in fact, they might not even like each other anymore.
After the war Doug (Dan Dailey) and Angie (Michael Kidd, choreographer of SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS) married and began careers as an ad man and cook, respectively, while Ted, depressed after receiving a Dear John letter at war's end, seemingly wastes away his life as a womanizing gambler. He's now part of the fights racket.
When the men meet up they become involved with a TV broadcast and a businesswoman (Cyd Charisse) who charms Ted. By the end of the film's 101 minutes, the reunion has helped the men work through some of their personal issues, hopefully heading toward a brighter future.
MGM musicals have always been very special to me, but -- despite the presence of Cyd Charisse, an all-time fave -- IT'S ALWAYS FAIR WEATHER is one of my least favorite musicals because of its relatively dark tone. (Ironically, that aspect seems to have won the film greater appreciation in these more cynical times.) The guys' characters aren't very appealing, and the mostly unmemorable score by Betty Comden, Adolph Green, and Andre Previn doesn't help.
There are lots of great individual moments in the film and it's definitely worth seeing, but it's not one I return to over and over again like so many other MGM films. Even so, my recordkeeping shows I've seen it half a dozen times, which bears out that even a lesser MGM musical is worth multiple repeat visits!
Highlights include the opening number with Kelly, Dailey, and Kidd dancing with trash can lids, Cyd's gym number "Baby, You Knock Me Out," and Kelly's roller-skating routine. Dolores Gray is a hoot as a temperamental TV star.
The film also makes especially good use of CinemaScope, including the guys doing a number in a triple split screen.
Besides marking the end of the Kelly-Donen collaborations, IT'S ALWAYS FAIR WEATHER would also be Kelly's last film with Cyd Charisse, who danced with him in SINGIN' IN THE RAIN and then costarred in Vincente Minnelli's BRIGADOON (1954), an underrated personal favorite which I'll be reviewing here at some future date. Unfortunately their only number together in this was cut, but it's included in the extras (more on that below).
IT'S ALWAYS FAIR WEATHER was filmed in Eastmancolor by Robert Bronner, who also filmed Charisse and Fred Astaire in SILK STOCKINGS (1957) a couple years later.
The Blu-ray generally looks very crisp and sharp, although like SILK STOCKINGS, the lack of Technicolor gives the film a more bland, sometimes brownish look. While most of the film looks good, there are a couple random shots which are strangely...awful, but a little research after seeing the movie turned up the information that it was due to a problem with the original negative.
Numerous extras have been carried over to the Blu-ray from the Warner Bros. DVD of a decade ago, including a trailer, featurette, MGM PARADE TV episodes, Tex Avery cartoons, an audio outtake, and best of all, three really interesting dance outtakes which musical fans will find fascinating. I especially like footage in which we can briefly see Kelly, Dailey, and Kidd just before or after they shoot a scene.
The Warner Archive's next MGM musical release is Minnelli's BELLS ARE RINGING (1960), a charmer starring Judy Holliday and Dean Martin. It's due out this week, and I anticipate reviewing it here in February.
Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray. Warner Archive Blu-rays may be ordered from the WBShop.