Chris Willman
May 09, 2003 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Kiss Me Kate

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
Unrated
runtime
147 minutes
performer
Brent Barrett, Kathryn Grayson, Howard Keel, Rachel York, Nancy Anderson, Bob Fosse, Ann Miller, James Whitmore, Keenan Wynn
director
Michael Blakemore, George Sidney
distributor
MGM/UA Home Video
genre
Comedy, Romance, musical

We gave it a B+

Domestic violence and (ex-) spousal abuse were never quite so charming as in Cole Porter’s final Broadway triumph — basically, His Girl Friday reinvented as a backstage musical with tights, urbane show tunes, Shakespearean slapstick, and bickering divorces who thwack the living hell out of one another. George Sidney’s film, finally on DVD, gets it right in some ways — you’ll be hard-pressed to find many ’50s B’way adaptations that keep nearly the entire source score — and goes a little awry in others: How could you toss off ”Too Darn Hot” as a solo tap number? Then again, how can Ann Miller going nuts on a coffee table be considered a throwaway? You also get that legendary minute of screen time in which Bob Fosse, granted permission to briefly choreograph himself, invents the most recognizable dance style of the next half century. The show itself is more faithfully rendered in a new filming misleadingly billed as the ”Broadway revival”: Although the players aren’t from the Tony-winning 1999 production, the (still awfully good) London cast is highlighted by Rachel York, who, unlike the movie’s Kathryn Grayson, somehow manages to be a shrew you’d want to tame. No spankings necessary here. Both: B+

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