Cast & Crew
After the end of World War II, soldiers Ted Riley, Doug Hallerton and Angie Valentine return to their favorite neighborhood bar in New York. The bartender, Tim, gives Ted a letter from his girl friend informing him that she has married someone else. In a dark mood, Ted and his friends visit every bar in town, then grow sentimental when they realize that as civilians, they will have to part ways. Vowing that they will always remain friends, the three men make a pact to meet in Tim's bar in exactly ten years. As the years pass, Doug pursues his painting and Angie studies cooking, then each man marries and settles into regular work. Ted, however, abandons his plans for law school and spends the years amusing himself with gambling and women. When the anniversary date comes around, Ted is working as a fight manager, having won a boxer, Kid Mariacchi, in a crap game. At the appointed time, Doug enters the bar and is pleased to see the painting he gave Tim ten years ago hanging on the wall. Doug calls his wife from a pay phone, hoping to talk her out of divorcing him, and does not understand when she tells him that he has changed. Angie comes in, followed by Ted, and the three men have an awkward reunion. Doug is now a successful advertising executive in Chicago who takes pills for a host of digestive ailments, and Angie is a family man with a roadside diner in Schenecdaty. Doug insists on treating the others to lunch in a fancy club, but they are unable to regain their old camaraderie. They are about to part ways when Doug encounters Mr. Fielding, an executive with the ad agency's New York office, and Jackie Leighton, the program coordinator for the agency's biggest television show, Midnight with Madeline . Fielding invites Doug and his friends to attend a rehearsal of the show, and they reluctantly agree. Instantly attracted to the striking Jackie, Ted contrives to be alone with her in a cab, but Jackie is an independent career woman accustomed to using her formidable intelligence to repel unwanted advances from men. Ted says goodbye to Jackie outside the Fontainbleu nightclub, where the show is filmed, urging her to come by the boxing gym later. Rehearsal gets underway, and temperamental star Madeline Bradville threatens to walk out unless Jackie finds her a better subject for the show's "surprise guest" segment than a Bronx candy store owner who has constructed a model of the Taj Mahal out of chewing gum wrappers. As Madeline compulsively devours sandwiches, Jackie comes up with the idea to feature the three war buddies on Madeline's show, without informing them in advance. Jackie goes to the gym, and misleads Ted into thinking that she is researching the world of boxing, then cheerfully announces herself as his date for the evening. While Jackie darts into a phone booth to make arrangements for the show, Ted talks with punch-drunk boxer Rocky Heldon, who is scheduled to fight Kid Mariacchi that evening. Rocky blurts out that he and racketeer Charles Z. Culloran have arranged for Kid Mariacchi to throw the fight. Ted grows morose thinking about his estranged friends and failure to live up to his youthful potential, and he and Jackie begin to open up to each other. Meanwhile, at a pre-broadcast reception for the ad executives, Doug drinks heavily and becomes abrasive as he confronts his disgust with who he has become. Back at the gym, Ted encounters Culloran, and before the fight begins, he and Jackie go into the dressing room and knock Kid Mariacchi unconscious. Although Jackie fears for Ted's safety, he is happy to feel good about himself again, and they kiss. While waiting for Jackie in the lobby of her apartment, Ted sees several thugs approaching and flees, taking refuge in a local roller rink. Still wearing the roller skates, Ted heads for the Fontainbleu, reveling in his love for Jackie and his rediscovered self-respect. Later, Ted, Angie and Doug show up separately to watch the broadcast, still unaware that they are to be the featured entertainment. As the show progresses, the three old friends are shocked to find themselves brought on stage amid great fanfare. The segment does not go as planned, however, when the men cannot share Madeline's phony glee at the situation. After Doug apologizes to his wife on the air and Angie proudly refuses the gifts from the sponsors, Ted describes himself candidly as a "bum and a small-time operator." Ted then sadly admits that the reunion was a failure, and tells his friends that he hopes to win back their respect. He then walks off the show, followed by Doug and Angie, just as Culloran and his thugs enter the club. From the control booth, Jackie orders the house cameras trained on Culloran, and the racketeer unknowingly admits to fixing the fight on live television. When Culloran realizes what has happened, he slugs Ted, and a huge brawl erupts, recorded by the television cameras. The three old war buddies battle Culloran's men until the police arrive, then march exultantly into Tim's bar, where Doug calls his wife and reconciles with her. The men are happily reminiscing when Jackie walks in and kisses Ted. As Tim closes up, the men drink one last toast to friendship.
Jay C. Flippen
Sven Hugo Borg
J. Lewis Smith
Jack Stewart Taylor
Wesley C. Miller
Irving G. Ries
Edwin B. Willis
Best Writing, Screenplay
It's Always Fair Weather
Stanley Donen's third pairing (along with Singin' in the Rain, 1952, and On the Town, 1949) with co-director Gene Kelly and the writing team of Betty Comden and Adolph Green, It's Always Fair Weather follows three soldiers as they are released from their wartime service at a former favorite neighborhood pub. The bosom buddies make a vow to return in 10 years to that same pub, to renew their undying friendship. Clever use of montage and split screen techniques follows the men on their individual courses as the years tick by. Ted Riley (Gene Kelly), a sharp-as-a-tack big-talker moves into the lowlife world of gamblers and bookies as a promoter of second-rate fighters. Doug Hallerton (Dan Dailey), a talented artist, has traded in his dreams to rise in the soulless corporate world of advertising. And aspiring chef Angie Valentine (Michael Kidd) starts up his own Schenectady hamburger joint, absurdly called The Cordon Bleu.
But the real meat of the film follows the misadventures of the trio after their 10-year reunion and their mutual disappointment at how far each has strayed from their dreams and youthful integrity. Though they take an almost immediate dislike to each other at their reunion, the three reluctantly agree to have lunch at an uncomfortably swanky New York restaurant where they are observed by one of Doug's advertising colleagues, Jackie (Cyd Charisse). Sensing a marketable story, Jackie decides to feature the "happily" reunited chums on the saccharine TV show Midnight with Madeline (a parody of fifties "reality" programs like This Is Your Life) hosted by phony, effusive glamour-puss Madeline (Dolores Gray). As Jackie attempts to keep the three alienated friends around for that night's performance (and begins to fall in love with Ted), the film veers into an arch comedy about the constructed sentimentality and crass manipulations of television and the advertising business.
Like other films of the fifties, anxious to distinguish themselves from the new entertainment form stealing all the movie industry's profits, Donen's film used a CinemaScope format to satirize the TV invasion. Donen proved to be a deft manipulator of the rectangular CinemaScope frame, breaking up space in innovative ways. On several occasions in the film, as in the hilarious "I Shouldn't Have Come" musical number set to "The Blue Danube" waltz, Donen splits the screen into a triptych, to show the different perspectives of the three leads lamenting their misguided luncheon reunion. And in a climactic fight at the Midnight with Madeline TV studio, where some of Ted's outraged mobster rivals come after the promoter, Donen shows the brawl through the windows of the control booth and the multiple perspectives of the television monitors.
It's Always Fair Weather melds elements of homefront disillusion found in films like The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit (1956) with the widescreen media-satire of Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (1957). In fact Weather began as an effort to capitalize upon the success of On the Town, starring Kelly, Frank Sinatra and Jules Munshin, by picking up where that film left off, and following the lives of the sailors after they've settled back into the homefront. But after unsuccessful attempts to reunite that original cast, It's Always Fair Weather was reconceived as the tale of Army buddies coming to terms with how much their lives and personalities had, unhappily, changed since their youth.
Alongside its more somber and satirical elements, It's Always Fair Weather features a host of memorable musical numbers, including Kelly, Dailey and Kidd hoofing with garbage can lids on one foot; Kelly gliding over the city streets on roller skates in a love-drunk stupor; Dolores Gray decimating a male chorus line via trap doors and exploding stage props; and Charisse in a sexy dance ("Baby, You Knock Me Out") with Ted's fisticuffs brethren at Stillman's Gym.
Though it was critically admired - placed on the New York Times' yearly top ten list (above Oklahoma!, 1955) and called "a winning show" by Times critic Bosley Crowther - the film never really took off with audiences, who were perhaps under-wowed by the film's blend of cynicism and dance numbers and its far less opulent production values. The film was riding the tail end of the musical wave, and MGM executive Dore Schary's imposition of budgetary restraints on the faltering musical genre showed in the film's final look.
But It's Always Fair Weather's clever spoof of television and the advertising business, ebullient musical numbers, melancholy observations about the transistory nature of friendships and some fiendishly clever performances, notably Dolores Gray's, make the film a continual favorite with contemporary audiences.
Producer: Arthur Freed
Director: Gene Kelly, Stanley Donen
Screenplay: Betty Comden, Adolph Green
Cinematography: Robert Bronner
Production Design: Cedric Gibbons and Arthur Lonergan
Music: Andre Previn
Principal Cast: Gene Kelly (Ted Riley), Dan Dailey (Doug Hallerton), Cyd Charisse (Jackie Leighton), Dolores Gray (Madeline Bradville), Michael Kidd (Angie Valentine), Jay C. Flippen (Charles Z. Culloran), David Burns (Tim).
C-102m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning.
by Felicia Feaster
It's Always Fair Weather
Gene Kelly in It's Always Fair Weather on DVD
Kelly and Donen had shared directing credit before (On the Town and Singin' in the Rain) but did not get along, and Donen had to be pressured to do this picture. He was now well-established as a solo director (Seven Brides For Seven Brothers) and saw it as a step backward to take this job. But he was talked into it, and sure enough, he and Kelly fought throughout production. Later, each admitted it had been a mistake to work together again. But the movie is so good (and unfairly underrated in some quarters) that they must have done something right.
The Oscar-nominated story of three Army buddies meeting ten years after the war and finding they have changed too much to re-connect was conceived as a sequel to On the Town, but MGM was unable to get Frank Sinatra and Jules Munshin to reprise their roles, so they made this a stand-alone story instead. Playing Kelly's buddies are Dan Dailey and Michael Kidd, a top choreographer making his acting debut. Writers Betty Comden and Adolph Green were nominated for an Oscar, no doubt for bringing to this story a slight bitterness and disillusionment which injected some depth - and honesty. The buddies are shown as united through song and dance at the outset, but when they meet ten years later, they have evolved into such different people with nothing in common that they loathe each other - and appropriately can't even share a musical number together anymore. Instead, we see their own numbers in a triple split screen - an ingenious way of showing their separation. The musical numbers contain all the emotional meaning of the story.
Meanwhile, the film pokes some fun at television with a plotline that involves a TV show produced by Cyd Charisse's character (who naturally also falls for Kelly). Further, it makes a biting comment on corporate culture by having Dan Dailey's executive character suffer a nervous breakdown from the monotony of corporate life - conveyed in the musical number "Situation-Wise."
But make no mistake. It's Always Fair Weather is first and foremost a musical comedy with exhilarating, showstopping numbers and a perky, Oscar-nominated score by Andre Previn. Dailey and Kidd show they can hold their own with Gene Kelly, and Cyd Charisse dazzles in one of her greatest numbers of all, "Baby, You Knock me Out," performed in a gym with a bunch of boxers.
Also memorable are the trash can lid dance with the three buddies and Delores Gray's "Thanks a Lot But No Thanks," in which she "kills" suitors by various means including a gun, dynamite, and a trap door. It's weird but entertaining. Gene Kelly's "I Like Myself," however, really stands out. Expressing his joy, Kelly dances on roller skates on a street and sidewalk, a la "Singin' in the Rain." Note how he taps and glides on the skates in continuous shots, showing us the skates are real and impressing us all the more. Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers had a rollerskating scene in Shall We Dance (1937), but this tops it, and it's not hard to see why Kelly considered this one of his proudest accomplishments.
Warner Home Video's DVD looks and sounds excellent. It's Always Fair Weather is wonderfully suited for widescreen TVs because it uses the CinemaScope format so well, so fully. This is one 'Scope film which really is impossible to watch except in its proper aspect ratio. Every corner of the frame is used compositionally.
Warner has included some fascinating extras. First, there's a short documentary on the making of the picture which includes archival interviews with Comden and Green, Charisse, Kidd and Donen. It elaborates on the Kelly-Donen conflict and ends with a swell montage of clips from MGM musicals. Of even greater interest are two deleted numbers (with partial sound). "Jack and the Space Giants" is a tour de force of choreography in which Michael Kidd dances around a kitchen and cooks for a group of little kids. "Love is Nothing But a Racket" is a Kelly-Charisse teaming in a clothing store dressing area. It's nothing extraordinary but it would have added some much-needed musical bonding between the two characters. (They have no dance together in the finished film.)
There are two cartoons included. "Deputy Droopy" is a very funny and increasingly macabre western starring Droopy, but its morbidity has nothing on "Good Will To Men," in which a grandfatherly mouse explains to a tiny mouse what "men" were and why there are no more of them on this Earth. What starts as a sweet Christmas-time tale suddenly turns dark and scary, with stunning visualizations of war and armageddon. The imagination and thought-provoking images on display are practically nonexistent in cartoons these days.
Short portions of MGM On Parade in which Cyd Charisse and Gene Kelly are interviewed about the picture is a fun little extra, and finally there's the theatrical trailer, which perhaps not surprisingly gives no hint of the pessimism that lies just below the movie's surface.
For more information about It's Always Fair Weather, visit Warner Video. To order It's Always Fair Weather, go to TCM Shopping.
by Jeremy Arnold
Gene Kelly in It's Always Fair Weather on DVD
Cyd Charisse's singing was dubbed by Carol Richards, Michael Kidd's by Jud Conlon.
Co-director 'Kelly, Gene' wanted to use the same stars as he did in On the Town (1949): Frank Sinatra, Jules Munshin (I), and himself.
The working title of this film was Fair Weather. According to modern sources, the film was originally planned as a sequel to the 1949 M-G-M musical On the Town (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50), which starred Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra and Jules Munshin as sailors on leave in New York City. However, Sinatra declined the assignment and Munshin was not available, so the sailors were changed to soldiers and the other two roles recast with dancers. Hollywood Reporter news items add Jack Santoro and Art La Forest to the cast, and report that June Foray recorded a character voice for the film. An August 1954 item in Hollywood Reporter's "Rambling Reporter" column stated that Janice Rule tested for a role. The participation of these actors in the final film has not been confirmed. Dan Dailey was borrowed from Twentieth-Century Fox for the production. Hal March, who portrayed boxer "Rocky Heldon," was the emcee on the popular CBS television quiz show The $64,000 Question, which debuted in June 1955.
The song "I Shouldn't Have Come" set special lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green to Johann Strauss' "The Blue Danube." The song "I Like Myself" is performed while Kelly roller skates through the streets of New York. It's Always Fair Weather received Academy Award nominations for Best Story and Screenplay, and Best Scoring of a Musical Picture. The film marked the last directorial collaboration between Kelly and Stanley Donen. They had previously co-directed On the Town and the 1952 M-G-M film Singin' in the Rain . It's Always Fair Weather was also Donen's last film for M-G-M, and marked choreographer Michael Kidd's screen debut.
Voted One of the Year's Ten Best Films by the 1955 New York Times Film Critics.
Released in United States Summer September 2, 1955
Released in United States on Video February 24, 1995
Released in United States March 1977
Released in United States 1997
Released in United States 1998
Shown at Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) as part of program "Twentieth Century Fox and the Golden Age of CinemaScope" July 3 - August 15, 1998.
Released in United States Summer September 2, 1955
Released in United States on Video February 24, 1995
Released in United States March 1977 (Shown at FILMEX: Los Angeles International Film Exposition (The Mighty Musical Movie Marathon) March 9-27, 1977.)
Released in United States 1998 (Shown at Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) as part of program "Twentieth Century Fox and the Golden Age of CinemaScope" July 3 - August 15, 1998.)
Released in United States 1997 (Shown in Los Angeles (Laemmle) as part of program "Makes Great Musicals: A Salute to MGM's Legendary Freed Unit" September 6 - December 21, 1997.)