Kiss Me Kate
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Of course, Kiss Me Kate has plenty of breaks for Porter's catchy songs ("Wundebar," "Too Darn Hot," "So in Love," "I Hate Men," and more) and choreographer Hermes Pan's show-stopping dance numbers. Co-star Ann Miller (playing feisty ingénue Lois/Bianca) takes center stage for many of the latter, flashing her famous legs and happily hoofing with the trio of muscular dancers playing Bianca's suitors one of whom happens to be a very young Bob Fosse. Fosse's sexy, jazzy, self-choreographed segment during "From This Moment On," in which he pairs up with fellow dancer Carol Haney, offers one of the earliest cinematic examples of the distinct, modern style that would make him famous and eventually help him win the Oscar for Cabaret. It's also worth noting that Kiss Me, Kate was filmed in 3-D to capitalize on the early '50s movie-house trend director George Sidney told his actors to throw things (scarves, jewelry, etc.) directly at the camera during dance numbers to make the most of the format. But since the fad was already waning by the time Kate was released, only half of the prints were sent out as 3-D. Obviously, Kiss Me, Kate is a movie with a lot of history behind it. But it's also a fun, frothy, Technicolored romp of a musical that, as the recent successful Broadway revival proves, is still as entertaining as they come. Cole Porter may have written more hits after Kate jump-started his career (Silk Stockings, High Society), but he never wrote a better one.
Warner's DVD lives up to Kiss Me Kate's reputation. The full-frame digital transfer (OAR 1.33:1) is lovely and clear, showcasing the bright costumes and gaudy sets, and the re-mastered Dolby Digital 5.1 audio puts extra oomph into all of Porter's songs (English, Spanish, and French subtitles are available). The features roster is healthy as well: In addition to a music-only track, a credits list, the theatrical trailer, and six screens of production notes, there are two worthwhile featurettes. The first, "Cole Porter in Hollywood: Too Darn Hot" is a retrospective "making-of" special hosted by Ann Miller. It's only eight and a-half minutes long, but it includes new retrospective interviews with Grayson, Keel, Whitmore, and other key cast members. Meanwhile, the 20-minute "Mighty Manhattan: New York's Wonder City" is a vintage travelogue from 1949 that celebrates America's cultural capital. Snap-case.