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WARNER

MOVIE INFO

Director:
George Sidney
Cast:
Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly, Kathryn Grayson, José Iturbi, Dean Stockwell, Pamela Britton, Rags Ragland, Billy Gilbert, Henry O'Neill
Writing Credits:
Natalie Marcin (story), Isobel Lennart

Tagline:
On waves of song ... laughter and romance! Two love-lost sailors on a four-day leave of fun and frivolity!

Synopsis:
Two sailors go on a four-day shore leave in Hollywood where, in their relentless effort to pick up girls, they become involved with a charming, fatherless boy who want to join the Navy and his beautiful aunt who's trying to get an audition with famous pianist José Iturbi.

MPAA:
Rated NR

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Fullscreen 1.33:1
Audio:
English Monaural
French Monaural
Subtitles:
English
French
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 140 min.
Price: $12.97
Release Date: 5/13/2008

Bonus:
• “Hanna and Barbera On the Making of ‘The Worry Song’” Featurette
• Cast & Crew
• Trailers


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EQUIPMENT
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RELATED REVIEWS


Anchors Aweigh: Frank Sinatra Collection (1945)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 27, 2008)

Like many kids, I suspect that I first heard of Gene Kelly via clips from 1945’s Anchors Aweigh. What made that flick such a likely introduction to the performer’s talents? The famous sequence in which Kelly dances onscreen with Jerry the mouse from the “Tom and Jerry” cartoons.

With a new DVD release in my clutches, I figured this would be a good time to see the rest of the movie. Navy boys Joe Brady (Kelly) and Clarence Doolittle (Frank Sinatra) receive medals for war heroism and get to embark on four days leave in Hollywood. Joe is the lady-killer of the pair, and he’s set to scoop up sexpot Lola Laverne. Less skilled in the art of seduction, Clarence tags along to try to learn some skills.

While on their way to find some ladies, the cops pick up our sailors to help them with a problem. Very young Donald Martin (Dean Stockwell) wants to join the Navy, and he won’t tell anyone where he lives. The police use the sailors to get the info out of him, and they all escort him back to his place.

At first, this infuriates Joe since he wants to connect with Lola. Matters improve when they meet the orphaned Donald’s guardian, his Aunt Susan (Kathryn Grayson). It turns out Susie’s a babe, and both Joe and Clarence fall for her. The movie follows the love triangle and related complications.

While I admit I can find it tough to take many movie musicals, I can fall for the charms of some, especially those from this era. I like Sinatra and Kelly, so the chances Anchors would entertain me seemed good.

I’m glad I placed no bets with those odds, as I couldn’t find much about Anchors that I liked. Its lead actors are almost the only aspect of the flick that makes it tolerable. During the first act, Kelly’s performance grates somewhat; he plays loverboy Joe in an aggressive manner that proves a bit off-putting. However, he tones down his attitude as the flick progress and soon becomes his usual charming self.

Sinatra does even better as the mild-mannered Clarence. I imagine that by 1945, Sinatra had scored with many a babe, so the idea of him as girl-shy and meek seems like a stretch. Old Blue Eyes pulled it off, though, as he appears truly shy and innocent. He creates an enjoyable performance that consistently delights.

Other than those two, the only positives I take from Anchors come from the beauty of Grayson. She’s absolutely adorable, though she’s not much of an actress. She makes Susan deathly dull, and she never shows life in the role. Well, at least she’s gorgeous.

“Deathly dull” applies to too much of Anchors as a whole, unfortunately. The movie lasts a lengthy two hours, 20 minutes, and it feels even longer. It boasts an awfully thin plot for so much screentime, though it tries desperately to fill out the running time with production numbers.

That’s inevitable, as musicals often go down that route. However, most films in the genre at least use their song and dance numbers to tell a little story. Most of those in Anchors serve no plot purpose whatsoever. Take the famous scene with Kelly and Jerry. This exists solely as a cinematic device and doesn’t connect to the rest of the film in even a remote manner. It’s there because it’s a cute idea, not because it makes sense for the story.

I’d guess at least half of the musical pieces have nothing to do with the plot, and the presence of pianist/conductor Jose Iturbi contributes mightily to the ennui. Anchors often feels like an Iturbi infomercial; if we don’t see him at work, we hear about his greatness from others. It probably doesn’t help that no one born after 1930 has the slightest clue who Iturbi was, but even if he remained a recognizable celebrity, his prominence here makes no sense.

If the performance numbers dazzled, much of this could be forgiven. Alas, there’s just very little pep on display in Anchors Aweigh. It stands as a decidedly bloated and slow musical that wears out its welcome well before it actually ends.


The DVD Grades: Picture C-/ Audio C+/ Bonus D-

Anchors Aweigh appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; due to those dimensions, the image has not been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Though not horrible for a 63-year-old movie, I thought the transfer seemed flawed.

It came as no surprise that source defects became a concern. More than a few instances of specks, marks, scratches and blotches cropped up throughout the film. These could’ve been worse, but they could’ve been a lot better, too, as they created quite a few distractions.

The Technicolor hues also seemed erratic. Many shots looked vivid and lively, but the tones could appear rather dense at times. Skin tones tended to be too brown, and the colors were inconsistent. Blacks appeared fairly deep and tight, at least, though shadows seemed murkier than I’d like.

Sharpness was a definite issue. Many shots suffered from general softness and lack of great definition. Much of the movie showed reasonably concise shots, but too many exceptions occurred. I saw no jagged edges or moiré effects, but some edge haloes cropped up through the film. Ultimately, the movie provided a flawed presentation that barely made it to a “C-“.

I found a similarly lackluster monaural soundtrack for Anchors. Mild background noise showed up through the film. Music showed acceptable definition but not better than that; the songs and score didn’t stand out as memorable. Though speech could be a bit flat, the lines were intelligible and natural enough. Effects played a minor role and seemed fine given the limitations of the era’s recordings. All of this was enough for a “C+”.

Anchors skimps on extras. We find a short clip called Hanna and Barbera On the Making of “The Worry Song”. It lasts a mere two minutes, 12 seconds as it tells us a little about how the famous sequence was created. We also find out that MGM originally hoped to get Mickey Mouse in the piece but Walt Disney wouldn’t loan out his most famous character. The basic facts offered here are interesting, but the piece is too short to tell us much.

We also get a few trailers. In addition to the ad for Anchors, we locate promos for Take Me Out to the Ball Game and On the Town. Finally, the set finishes with a Cast and Crew screen. This simply lists some of the actors and filmmakers; no biographies or filmographies show up as well, which makes the page a waste of time.

Contrived and dull, Anchors Aweigh disappoints. I like its stars – and found myself smitten by its leading lady – but the flick’s excessive length, absence of much plot and many pointless production numbers makes it tough to take. The DVD presents flawed picture, mediocre sound, and insubstantial supplements. I don’t care for the movie, and the disc will be a letdown for fans.

Note that you can buy this version of Anchors Aweigh on its own or as part of a three-movie package called “The Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly Collection”. This set also includes On the Town and Take Me Out to the Ball Game. Purchased individually, each DVD retails for $12.97, but the “Collection” box comes for $24.98. That makes it a good deal for fans who want to own all three – or even just two – of the films.

One final note: this DVD of Anchors Aweigh is identical to one released back in 2000. Don’t expect a new transfer or any changes; all of the files are dated “1999”, so the film hasn’t received any additional clean-up or other work over the last eight-plus years.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.25 Stars Number of Votes: 4
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