It's Always Fair Weather

The quintessential musical for sentimental cynics

DVD Watch


Warner Home Video, $19.98

The quintessential musical for sentimental cynics, the ironically titled It's Always Fair Weather, was the last of the great MGM CinemaScope extravaganzas to showcase the jaw-dropping athletic prowess of Gene Kelly. Originally slated as a sequel to the unit's successful On the Town (which depicted the breezy adventures of three sailors on leave in the Big Apple), the original plan fell apart when the studio nixed reuniting the original cast – especially the increasingly difficult Frank Sinatra. But Kelly seized on the concept, reshaping it into the tale of three returning World War II soldiers who vow everlasting allegiance and then find they have nothing in common but failure when they reunite 10 years later. The flip side of Singin' in the Rain, It's Always Fair Weather would leave a bitter taste if not for the incredible showcase dance sequences: an astonishing opening ensemble number featuring Kelly and co-stars Dan Dailey and Michael Kidd in an adrenaline-inducing spree with trashcan lids attached to their feet (the obvious inspiration for Stomp!), and the legendary Kelly solo, tap dancing and gliding on roller skates through a busy New York street, all longshots and talent, no CGI. The comedy is edgier, too – dark, pessimistic and pointed, skewering nothing less than the American Dream; Kelly was never smarmier, and that's saying a lot. Filmed during the decade when TV was killing box-office business, Weather is a vitriolic valentine to the new medium, and its barbs on "reality TV" pack prophetic and potent venom. Unsurprisingly, it wasn't always fair weather on the set. Creative differences between co-directors Kelly and Stanley Donen erupted often, and the autocratic Kelly tried to wrest away his co-stars' showcase solo numbers. Kidd's astonishing solo was relegated to the cutting room floor, but Dailey's scathing satire of Madison Avenue ad jargon, "Situation-wise," remained at Donen's insistence. This gorgeous widescreen transfer features a generous sampling of extras, including Kidd's discarded solo. It's Always Fair Weather lacks the amiable good humor of Singin' in the Rain, and its songs don't linger – but its aftertaste does, along with Cyd Charisse's endless legs.

Also Out Now

The Merv Griffin Show: 40 of the Most Interesting People of Our Time (Alpha, $29.98): "Old age is a shipwreck," groans Orson Welles to Merv Griffin in 1985. "But you feel wonderful, don't you?" responds his avuncular host. Welles rolls his eyes; two hours later, he was dead. More than 40 "interesting people" make up the guest interviews on this patchwork video quilt of Griffin's warm and fuzzy talk show from the Sixties to Eighties, including Martin Luther King, Richard Burton, John Wayne, and Monti Rock III. Oooooohhhh.

Modern Romance (Sony, $14.94): Albert Brooks' darkly revealing and self-flogging take on true self-love still packs a painfully neurotic punch 25 years later, albeit one that moves in excruciating slow-mo. It's like Annie Hall from an alternate universe, or at least an alternate coast. C'mon, Albert, give us a sequel.

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It's Always Fair Weather, Warner Home Video

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