KISMET (1955)

Dir. Vincente Minnelli

Producer Arthur Freed’s literate, witty productions, such as KISMET, set the standard for the rest of Hollywood, particularly when directed by Vincente Minnelli. Sadly, this film’s lack of box-office success signaled the end of that glorious era. More recent audiences, however, have come to cherish the style captured in this sixth film version of Edward Knobloch’s hit play. Howard Keel stars as the beggar poet who uses his wits to rise in Bagdad society, and though he was too young for the role (he was only nine years older than on-screen daughter Ann Blyth, who attends this presentation), he sings beautifully. Dolores Gray brought long legs and an impressive set of pipes to her performance as his lady fair, particularly in a rousing rendition of “Not Since Nineveh,” one of the film’s highlights. Another is “Stranger in Paradise,” with Blyth and Vic Damone singing the show’s biggest hit while walking through an impeccably designed garden. With lavish costumes by Tony Duquette and peerless choreography by Jack Cole, this is a musical fantasy ripe for rediscovery and reappraisal.

In attendance: Ann Blyth.

KISMET
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