We're looking for contributors

Howard Keel on TCM: SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS, SHOW BOAT, KISS ME KATE

Howard Keel, Jane Powell in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
Jane Powell, Howard Keel, and fellow Seven Brides for Seven Brothers cast members

Howard Keel, best remembered for MGM musicals such as Show Boat, Kiss Me Kate, and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, is Turner Classic Movies' next-to-last "Summer Under the Stars" star. On Tuesday, August 30, TCM will be presenting 14 Howard Keel movies, including one TCM premiere – Charles Crichton's British crime drama Floods of Fear. (TCM had initially announced another premiere, the 1948 British drama The Small Voice, starring Valerie Hobson and James Donald; instead, as per its website TCM will be showing – once again – the 1951 comedy Three Guys Named Mike, starring Jane Wyman.) [Howard Keel Movie Schedule.]

Tall, baritone-voiced, and handsome, Howard Keel could at times be a quite effective actor, whether in comedies (Callaway Went Thataway, when not singing in Annie Get Your Gun, Calamity Jane and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers) or in dramas (the Western Ride, Vaquero!, when not singing in Show Boat).

TCM will be showing five of the aforementioned six movies: the three George Sidney musicals Annie Get Your Gun (1950), Show Boat (1951), Kiss Me Kate (1953); Stanley Donen's Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954); and Melvin Frank and Norman Panama's Hollywood-set comedy Callaway Went Thataway (1951).

In Annie Get Your Gun, Keel was slated to star opposite Judy Garland, who was fired during filming. MGM then borrowed Paramount's Betty Hutton, who is at her best as Annie Oakley. Watching Hutton burn up the screen, one can hardly believe that the shoot of this lively musical was such a miserable experience for the actress, who later said she felt that MGM's actors and crew people resented her as "Garland's replacement." Annie Get Your Gun went on to become one of the biggest moneymakers of the year and one of the biggest box office hits in the careers of both Hutton and Keel.

Show Boat is probably my personal favorite among the Hollywood musicals of the '50s. Keel is perfectly believable as a kind-hearted loser, while Kathryn Grayson for once showed that she could be a capable dramatic actress. But the top acting honors in this romantic musical set in the 19th-century American South go to Ava Gardner as the tragic mulatto Julie. Gardner may not have been part-black in real life, but what matters in Show Boat are the various emotional layers she brings to her characterization. Curiously, Gardner's singing was dubbed by Annette Warren in the film, but her voice can be heard on the soundtrack album.

Both Keel and Kathryn Grayson received good notices for Kiss Me Kate, in which they play stage performers at odds with one another while staging a musicalized version of Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew. But Kiss Me Kate truly belongs to fiery Ann Miller in a supporting role.

Nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is a highly enjoyable romp that some consider the near-apex of '50s musicals – right after Gene Kelly's Singin' in the Rain. Personally, I much prefer the verve displayed everywhere in Stanley Donen's musicalized version of The Rape of the Sabine Women, from the performances of Jane Powell and Howard Keel, to the songs by Saul Chaplin, Gene de Paul, and Johnny Mercer, and the dance numbers choreographed by Michael Kidd. The lush cinematography is by veteran George J. Folsey. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers was reportedly Keel's favorite among his films.

If you liked the article Howard Keel on TCM: SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS, SHOW BOAT, KISS ME KATE, please recommend it to your friends. See share buttons above and on the left.
Follow Alt Film Guide on Google+, Facebook and/or join the FB group All About Movies.
Howard Keel on TCM: SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS, SHOW BOAT, KISS ME KATE © 2004-2015 Alt Film Guide and/or author(s). Text NOT to be reproduced without prior written consent.

Continue Reading: Howard Keel on TCM Pt.2: ROSE MARIE, PAGAN LOVE SONG, CALLAWAY WENT THATAWAY

Previous Post: THE HELP Tops Box Office; CONAN THE BARBARIAN, FRIGHT NIGHT, ONE DAY Plummet


Click on 'Load Comments' to leave a comment about Howard Keel on TCM: SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS, SHOW BOAT, KISS ME KATE.

Important: Different views and opinions are perfectly fine, but courtesy and respect are imperative. Abusive, bigoted, baseless (spreading misinformation), and/or trollish/inflammatory comments will be blocked and offenders may be banned.




FILM ARCHIVES

Ann Sheridan
Billy Wilder's Europe at UCLA
Anita Page: The Last Surviving Silent Film Star
Mary Pickford Oscar Controversy
Best Films - 1943
A TALE OF TWO CITIES Review - Ronald Colman Jack Conway
Best Films - 1936
Best Films - 1939
Norma Shearer: Proudly and Inescapably Neurotic
Lon Chaney, Joan Crawford, THE LOST WORLD, HUBBLE 3D: SXSW Special Events
Ramon Novarro's THE RED LILY, Pedro Infante's LAS MUJERES DE MI GENERAL on TCM
Jennifer Jones Movie Memorabilia Auction: DUEL IN THE SUN, GONE WITH THE WIND Screenplays
Ben Gazzara Dead at 81: ANATOMY OF A MURDER, HUSBANDS, AN EARLY FROST
Hedy Lamarr/SAMSON AND DELILAH: Ahead of THE HUNGER GAMES?
Janet Leigh PSYCHO
Paul Henreid: From Eleanor Parker to THE FOUR HORSEMEN OF THE APOCALYPSE
Paul Henreid CASABLANCA: Taking Tyranny Seriously
Hattie McDaniel: Oscar Winner Made History
IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE Sequel to Be Stopped by Copyright Angel?
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Shirley Temple Honored with Library of Congress Screenings