Toronto Film Society presented Kiss Me Kate (1953) on Sunday, October 27, 2019 in a double bill with Stars and Stripes Forever as part of the Season 72 Sunday Afternoon Special Screening #2.
Toronto Film Society presented Kiss Me Kate (1953) on Monday, September 15, 1980 in a double bill with The Secret Garden as part of the Season 33 Monday Evening Film Buff Series, Programme 1.
Production Company: MGM. Producer: Jack Cummings. Director: George Sidney. Cinematography: Charles Rosher. Editor: Ralph E. Winters. Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons, Urie McCleary. Set Decoration: Richard Pefferle, Edwin B. Willis. Costumes: Walter Plunkett. Release Date: November 26, 1953.
Cast: Kathryn Grayson (Lilli Vanessi / “Katherine”), Howard Keel (Fred Graham / “Petruchio”), Ann Miller (Lois Lane / “Bianca”), Keenan Wynn (Lippy), Bobby Van (“Gremio”), Tommy Rall (Bill Calhoun / “Lucentio”), James Whitmore (Slug), Kurt Kasznar (“Baptista”), Bob Fosse (“Hortensio”), Ron Randell (Cole Porter), Willard Parker (Tex Callaway), Dave O’Brien (Ralph), Claud Allister (Paul), Ann Codee (Suzanne), Carol Haney (Specialty Dancer), Jeanne Coyne (Specialty Dancer), Hermes Pan (Sailor).
This is a story of show business. Kiss Me Kate consists of a play within a play and is concerned with the offstage matrimonial sparring of the two leads who act in a stage musical that resembles Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew”. The offstage and private life tussling between the “shrew” Lilli Vanessi and the tamer Fred Graham parallels that of their stage performance.
Originally filmed in 3-D, extra care went into the costume and set designing for the three-dimensional camera. Though the 3-D effects were still primitive in the early fifties, the standard two-dimension version benefited from the different kind of staging that 3-D requires. Kiss Me Kate was the first and last use of 3-D with a musical.
The settings are outstanding in sharply contrasting water-colours. These stand out well with the costume design; rich reds for Katherine, blacks and whites for Petruchio, green and oranges for Bianca.
This was one of the last films that Kathryn Grayson made in her career (and it was the last film she made for MGM). Nevertheless, the picture was memorable more for Ann Miller’s role as Bianca. This was also Howard Keel’s best role, a role for which he fought to be cast. Laurence Olivier was originally planned for the role, but director George Sidney promoted Keel sufficiently to give him the part.
Films in Review, December 1953, pps. 538-540
The MGM Stock Company, James Robert Parish, Ronald Bowers
Notes by Fred Cohen