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On the Town

September 3, 2010

222. On the Town
Directed by Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen
USA, 1949

IMDB | allmovie

Reviewed by Ally
First viewing since childhood


Musical about three sailors on 24-hour shore leave in New York City. Gabey (Gene Kelly) sees a poster on the subway of “Miss Turnstiles” and becomes obsessed with finding her. Chip (Frank Sinatra) and Ozzie (Jules Munshin) agree to help him, but get distracted by girl troubles of their own…

Essential Scene:

The sailors and Hildy (Betty Garrett) — a cabbie who has taken quite an interest in Chip — head to the Museum of Anthropological History on their search for Miss Turnstiles. There Ozzie meets Claire (Ann Miller), an anthropologist who is fascinated by his resemblance to the museum’s statue of Pithecanthropus Erectus. At first Ozzie is disappointed, thinking her interest is purely scientific, but she soon reassures him otherwise.

Ozzie: Hey, how come a girl like you is interested in this anthropo-whatcha-call-it?

Claire: Well you see it’s this way — I’d been running around too much with all kinds of young men. I just couldn’t settle down, so my guardian suggested I take up anthropology. He thought if I made a scientific study of man, I’d become more objective… get them out of my system… be able to control myself…

Ozzie: Oh, has it worked?

Claire: Almost completely.

Claire grabs Ozzie and kisses him like it’s goin’ outta style. The gang are reunited and, after a bit more of the talky-talky, Claire proceeds to sing a song extolling the virtues of “Prehistoric Man,” accompanied by a dance routine utilizing the museum’s many exhibitions.

Top hat, bow ties
He simply wore no ties

Bearskin, bearskin
He just sat around in nothing but bearskin

I really love bearskin!

Well I never…


I’m not generally a fan of musicals, but On the Town is of that particular breed of Hollywood musical I can dig. It’s crammed with eye-popping Technicolor splendor and infectious tunes — I’m still humming “New York, New York” as I write this — and the jokes range from surprisingly suggestive to downright corny. Along with Singin’ in the Rain, this film is a chance to see Gene Kelly at the height of his talents.

And Ann Miller — yowza!

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