Friday, April 11, 2008

"Meet Me in Las Vegas" (1956) -- Initial Thoughts

After a couple of weeks off, I'm back to watching and reviewing new (to me) musicals. This week it was Meet Me in Las Vegas (1956), starring Cyd Charisse and Dan Dailey. I'd never heard of this movie before, and that's probably because overall, it's not very memorable. It has some splendid moments, like Charisse dancing to a 50s jazzed-up version of "Frankie and Johnny" narrated by Sammy Davis, Jr. And I'm liking her ballet more and more -- until I saw Band Wagon a few weeks ago, I didn't realize how seriously good at ballet she was. Zowie! There are several numbers here that showcase her classiness, including one ballet that involves volleyball (yeah). And Dan Dailey gets to sing a couple times in his crumbly, down-home way that I can't help but smile at.

The premise is that a rancher-gambler discovers a that snooty ballerina is his lucky charm when they bump into each other in Vegas. This is the Rat Pack's Vegas, not CSI's, so no one ends up dead, they just gamble and bump into celebrities. Among those providing cameos are Frank Sinatra (of course), Peter Lorre, Vic Damone, Steve Forrest, and Debbie Reynolds. We also get treated to entirely superfluous songs by Lena Horne and Frankie Laine, I suppose to make us feel like we're really in Vegas seeing famous people at the casinos. If you watch really closely, you'll also catch a young George Chakiris, who went on to win an Oscar six years later for West Side Story.

Paul Henried and Jim Backus round out the real cast, as well as Agnes Moorehead. She's provides the most fun in the whole movie, as Dailey's sensible mom. She's less acid-tongued than in some roles, but still plenty feisty. The scenes with them all out at Dailey's ranch are my favorite part of the whole movie, hokey modern cowboys and all.

All in all, it was a fun enough way to spend two hours, but I can see why it's not on lots of top ten lists. Enjoyable, but not particularly enchanting.

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