On the Town

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

As three sailors – Gabey, Chip, and Ozzie – begin their shore leave, Gabey falls in love with the picture of “Miss Turnstiles”, who is actually Ivy Smith. The sailors race around New York attempting to find her in the brief period they have (“New York, New York”).

They are assisted by, and become romantically involved with, two women, and pair up: Ozzie with Claire, an anthropologist; and Chip with Hildy Esterhazy, an aggressively amorous taxi driver; and eventually, Gabey with Ivy, an aspiring actress. Claire claims that she’s found her passionate “Prehistoric Man” in Ozzie at the Museum of Anthropological History. Hildy invites Chip to “Come Up to My Place”. Gabey takes Ivy on an imaginary date down “Mainstreet” in a studio in Symphonic Hall. Later, Chip sincerely falls for Hildy telling her “You’re Awful” — awful nice to be with. That evening, all the couples meet at the top of the Empire State Building to celebrate a night “On the Town”.

But when Ivy must leave early to work as a cooch dancer, the friends tell a despondent Gabey, “You Can Count on Me”, joined by Hildy’s hilarious roommate, Lucy Schmeeler. They have a number of adventures reuniting with Ivy at Coney Island before their 24-hour leave ends and they must return to their ship to head off to sea. Although their future is uncertain, the boys and girls share one last kiss on the pier as a new crew of sailors heads out into the city for their leave (“New York, New York reprise”).


On the Town is one of the more popular musicals of its time, but it may come as a surprise to some that the composer of the stage musical boycotted the film, because most of his music was dropped for being ” too complex and operatic”. Having not seen the stage production, I don’t know if this was a plus or minus, but what we have here isn’t bad on its own.

What is this about?

New York, New York, it’s a helluva town! Especially if you’re sailors Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra and Jules Munshin, on leave and ready for fun in New York City in this Oscar-winning musical comedy. But they only have 24 hours in the Big Apple. Gabey (Kelly), Chip (Sinatra) and Ozzie (Munshin) each find romance quickly, and they’re going to live every second to the hilt.

What did I like?

Talent. Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra. Two of the most talented men to ever be filmed. Kelly is the star of the film, though this isn’t his film, but more of an ensemble picture. It is just his natural charm and charisma that just takes over. Sinatra doesn’t really get to sing on his own too much, but when he does, you can see why Ol’ Blue Eyes is so highly regarded still today. There is also that little scene with Kelly doing his dancing thing. Talk about some real talent!!!!

Music and ladies. I mentioned in my opening statement about how the music has been altered from its original form. The songs that were either kept or written specifically for this picture, though, are quite catchy and some may even be memorable. With beautiful music, one has to have even more gorgeous ladies, and that is what this film delivers. All three of our leading ladies are goddesses in their own right, my favorite being Ann Miller.

Outside the box. As co-director, Gene Kelly had a bit of control on how this picture was filmed. During this point in film history, many films were still made inside the studio, but Kelly fought hard to get some genuine New York scenes in there. I tip may hat to Mr. Kelly for doing so, as it really adds to the aesthetic of the film. I don’t believe this film would have worked as well without some real New York-ness in it.

What didn’t I like?

Sailors. Three sailors on leave in New York City. No big there, right? Going to all these places in the span of 24 hours, are we really to believe they don’t come across more than just one other group of sailors. It seems to me that there would be all kinds of servicemen in many of these places, don’t you think? Maybe that’s just how I think, though.

Random roommate. The homely roommate that was brought in initially served no purpose, but they found something for her to d. I still don’t think she was needed for anything more than a quick cameo. Ironically, the actress that played her is the only one to reprise her role from the Broadway version.

Third wheel. When you’re the third sailor grouped with the likes of Kelly and Sinatra, you have to do something memorable. Jukes Munshin, who plays the third sailor doesn’t do that. As a matter of fact, he is quite forgettable, except for the fact they mention how he looks like the caveman from the museum, which is quite sad that is how he is remembered.

On the Town is a fun film that everyone can enjoy. With great music, acting, dancing, and a decent story, how can you go wrong with this flick? My complaints about this film are very minute and can very easily be brushed off. Do I recommend this flick? Yes, very highly. Check it out sometime!

4 1/2 out of 5 stars



3 Responses to “On the Town”

  1. […] pairing. A few months again, along with co-stars Jules Munshin and Betty Garrett, they star in On the Town. Why do both of these films work so well? Aside from their unmeasurable talent, they truly seem […]

  2. […] a sequel to one of Kelly’s great musicals which also starred Frank Sinatra and Jules Munchin, On the Town. Something happened and plans were changed, though. I wish they wouldn’t have as that would […]

  3. […] This week’s trailer features Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra as Navy sailors on shore leave. Enjoy On the Town […]

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