[box cover]

It's Always Fair Weather

Ted Riley (Gene Kelly), Doug Hallerton (Dan Dailey), and Angie Valentine (Michael Kidd) spent four years together fighting in World War II, and after a night carousing in New York, they all promise to return to the same bar in 1955 under the auspices of still being friends. Ten years later, would-be politician Ted is managing a crooked boxer, would-be artist Doug is doing commercials for an insipid TV show while his marriage is unraveling, and would-be restaurateur Angie works in a diner and has tons of kids. The three remember their meeting, but so much has changed that at first the men can't spend time with each other — and no one's sure of their friends or who they've become. Things change when Ted meets Jackie Leighton (Cyd Charisse), who works on the show Doug does cartoons for, and who snookers the show's producers into making the end segment of their broadcast be about the three men's reunion. It's Always Fair Weather (1955) was conceived as a semi-sequel to On the Town (1949), but even without Frank Sinatra, Fair Weather is a marvel of a musical. What marks it as fascinating is how strangely introspective it is in comparison to the more ephemeral pleasures the genre usually offers. The film spends much of its running-time having the main characters questioning the men they've become, and as such it feels more like the European art films of the time than sprightly escapist entries like the same year's Oklahoma or Daddy Long Legs. There's a real heart to the picture, and something that's rare to cinema, in that when the characters decide to renew the passions lost to the drudgeries of their daily lives it doesn't feeling sickly sweet or trite. It's still got some dazzling numbers, with the boys donning trash cans for a binge-induced dance sequence, and the standout "I Like Myself," featuring Gene Kelly tap dancing in roller skates (a sequence so strong Luc Besson excerpted it in his 1994 film Leon). It also gives choreographer and Broadway legend Michael Kidd a rare on-screen role — though his part is easily the least developed of the three leads. Warner Brothers presents It's Always Fair Weather in anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) with a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix that has very pronounced channel separation. Extras include the featurette "It's Always Fair Weather: Going Out on a High Note" (16 min.), "MGM Parade" clips featuring Cyd Charisse (5 min.) and Gene Kelly (5 min.), the cartoons "Deputy Droopy" (6 min.) and "Good Will to Men" (8 min.), and the theatrical trailer. But most interesting of all are the four sequences lifted from the film, "Jack and the Space Giants" featuring Michael Kidd's character playing for his children (6 min.), "Love is Nothing but a Racket" with Kelly and Charisse (7 min.), additional footage from the boys first night back in the states in "The Binge" (1 min.), and the audio-only "I Thought They'd Never Leave" (3 min.). Keep-case.

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