Musical Monday: Kiss Me, Kate, darlings!

Posted on May 14, 2007

Yes, it’s Kiss Me, Kate! It’s like Shakespeare – with tap-dancing! This thing has enough plot for three or four of Shakespeare’s plays, so let’s get crackin’!

Our story opens with Howard Keel as Fred Grahame, a vain, recently divorced musical star. He’s hanging out with his good buddy Cole Porter, who in this film is heterosexual and can stand unassisted. They’ve got a hot script – a musical comedy based on The Taming of the Shrew – and they want to convince Fred’s former partner to hop on.

Enter Kathryn Grayson as Fred’s ex-wife, Lilli. Lilli has decided to forgo the requisite vagina hat and is instead sporting the forward-thinking “pubic hair” hat. Lilli’s all set to tell the boys not to waste their time with her when there’s another knock at the door.

Why, it’s our favorite gal, Ann Miller, fresh in from a busy night on the docks. Ann plays Lois Lane (no, seriously), a hoofer with a heart of gold and a hunger for the big time. Ann can sense that her beau is looking to cast his ex-wife and she can’t have any of that, so she rips off her clothes and taps her ass off.

Go girl, go! Just try and tell us that she didn’t have several orgasms while performing that number. In fact, we propose an Ann Miller drinking game. Everyone has to do a shot every time she orgasms while tapping. Try it at home! Make your own alcoholic!

Suddenly, the script is looking awfully juicy to Lilli and a cagematch almost erupts, but Fred avoids bloodshed by casting them both in the play.

Later, in rehearsals, Ann demonstrates how she got the part. Ann’s not one of those girls who sits around waiting for a breeze to air out her ladybits. She’s all about taking matters into her own hands.

Ann’s other beau, Bill shows up. He’s her dance partner and he’s just no good for her. She begs him to straighten up for their shot at the big time and he tells her that he just signed over an IOU for two thousand dollars to a couple of gangsters, but here’s the kicker, kids: He signed Fred’s name! Oh, the comedy that’s sure to ensue now!

Ann drags him up to that place in musicals where one must always go to have important conversations – the roof – and pleads with him to behave.

It’s not the best song in the world, but the dancing and the outrageous overacting of Ann make it all worthwhile.

Meanwhile, in Lilli’s dressing room, the hidden rage and passive aggression are in full force. Lilli’s engaged to a rich Texas oil man and she flaunts the rock on her finger because…well, because she’s a bitch.

And a cocktease, apparently.

These two have an unfortunate habit of breaking into song constantly. No wonder they divorced. They always had to rehearse their arguments for two days before they could have them.

Ruh-roh! We all didn’t see THAT coming, did we, kittens? We’re 15 minutes into this film and we already need to recap the plot:

Howard’s in love with Kathryn but he’s dating Ann. Ann is just using him to further her career, but she’s really in love with Bill. Bill owes money to gangsters but the gangsters think Howard owes it to them and Kathryn is engaged to Tex but is clearly still in love with Howard.

You still with us? There’s more.

The gangsters show up to collect the money and Fred has no idea what they’re talking about, so they politely leave. Seriously. If all gangsters were like that, we’d all be doing business with them.

Meanwhile, a character actress delivers some flowers to Lilli. They’re from Fred. You know what that means.

Singing.

Fred is perfecting his “George Michael” look when he realizes his manservant gave the flowers to the wrong girl. They were supposed to go to Ann. He beats him roughly, praying that Lilli hasn’t read the card yet.

No time to worry about that now! It’s curtain time!

And Shakespeare is weeping somewhere.

Although we have to say, that’s a killer set.

Every musical, even if it’s a mediocre one, has one song, one bit that just makes up for the entire two hours.

Ann Miller joyfully singing about dick with Bobby Van, Bob Fosse and Tommy Rall waving their hot asses in our faces?

That’ll do.

In other news…

Howard Keel is not afraid to look like a complete dork.


He sings about looking for a wife, but there was really only one reason for this screencap. Can you guess?

Lilli, in a fit of unprofessionalism, takes her flowers onstage and decides to read the card in the middle of the play. Hilarity of course ensues, as Lilli bypasses shrewdom and heads straight for unmitigated bitchery, almost ruining the play on opening night. This bitch needs to get fired.

But Howard comes up with a better idea. Wouldn’t it be great if the entertainment industry handed out spankings to its divas more often?

Backstage, a character actress can’t tell the difference between Lilli’s head and her ass. Lilli is leaving right in the middle of the play and she calls her Texas boyfriend to come and pick her up.

Howard has a better idea. Spanking and gun threats! What refreshing and unusual methods to ensure entertainment quality! Why isn’t anyone doing this to Lindsay Lohan?

Under threat of murder, the play goes on…

…and unexpectedly veers straight into “gay pride” territory.


Lilli keeps trying to run offstage, but Fred put the gangsters in costumes to keep her in line. Tex shows up and Lilli begs him to take her home.

Is your head spinning from this plot yet?

While Lilli’s getting changed, Ann spots Tex and Ann’s a girl who can smell money from several blocks away. She waves her tits in his face, but to no avail. Oh well. He’s not the first fancy boy Ann’s seen backstage and he’s sure not to be the last.

Has everyone forgotten they’re in the middle of performing a play?

Because the gangster to whom the money was owed died unexpectedly, the thugs decide to let Lilli go.

Meanwhile, Ann and the boys are doing all the heavy lifting on stage.

FANTASTIC number, but the real treat is watching baby Fosse as he learns how to become BOB FOSSE, jazz-hands and all.

This thing’s been going on for almost two hours and they need to wrap things up…

…so Lilli unexpectedly and without any explanation, shows up on stage even though we watched her drive away five minutes earlier. It was the spanking. She clearly wanted more.

All’s well that ends well and Fred and Lilli inexplicably balloon to massive ghostly proportions and float out over the audience, terrifying them.


Until their gigantic, leering, painted faces fill the screen and haunt us for years to come. Eat that, Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Next week: We enjoy being a girl, darlings!

[Screencaps: tomandlorenzo.com]

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  • Gorgeous Things

    “Seriously. If all gangsters were like that, we’d all be doing business with them”

    And the Sopranos would be about a bunch of opera singers. Oh god, I’m still laughing! And Ann Miller? WOW!

  • Bill

    I’ll get to KMK in a sec, but I am DELIGHTED at what you are doing next week. I love FDS (and I’m not talking about the feminine hygene spray!).

  • Debby

    What’s with Lili’s hair? Has she been a model on Shear Genius? It keeps changing colors…even when she’s not in the “play.”

  • Anonymous

    dear god, this musical has the worst plot in the world, but it’s all worth it to see Howard Keel wearing a rainbow flag.

    on a happier note, I saw Aida last week and I kept thinking of gayboys comments. I really wish they had made a movie of Aida just to see what you boys would say.

  • Anonymous

    ok, SERIOUSLY you need to put a warning at the start of these things, I am covering reception and workin a hang-over while trying to read this and I’m going to get fired!!
    Great recap though!

    MT

  • BrianB

    Now you know why this is a great hangover movie! It’s so crazy it’s like having the hair of the dog! By the time it’s over you swear off drink forever. (Or at least a week!)

    I love how Hollywood’s version of Cole Porter is always so much better looking than the real thing! It’s not like he was unattractive in real life, but Cary Grant and this guy?

    LOVE the costumes and sets! Kathryn Graysons suits! Gray with pink accessories, delicious!

    Your screen captures were perfect! With each scroll I laughed harder and that was before I got to your brilliant commentary! Just hilarious!

    Can’t wait for next week, My Sister’s Husband!

    BrianB

  • thombeau

    You boys are way too clever for your own good! YAY!

    LOVED Ann Miller “taking matters into her own hands”! And “pubic hair” hats—wouldn’t that be a merkin?

    We saw the 3-D release of this a few years back, it was insane and glorious and did I mention insane? But fabulous, none the less.

    Looking forward to next week!!!

  • Anonymous

    FLOWER DRUM SONG!!!!
    YES!
    You be the rock, I’ll be the roll!

  • ToddNY

    F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S!!

    I’ll marry Dick : – )

  • Bill

    Kiss Me Kate is much more fun onstage than onscreen. MGM sanitized the lyrics for the screen. The Broadway version of Porter’s lyrics is more risque (and for the era, some of it was downright dirty).

    The best reason for watching KMK is Ann Miller's crazy dancing and Keel, Fosse, Van & Rall in those two-tone tights.

    The other two women paired with the boys in the "From This Moment On" number are Carol Haney (paired with Fosse) & Jeanne Coyne (paired with Van). I think everyone knows the whole Haney story (Fosse's assistant, she was a sensation on Broadway in Pajama Game, hurt her foot, understudy Shirle MacLaine went on, film producer Hal Wallis in audinece, a star is born). Interesting note on dancer Jeanne Coyne. She was married first to musical director Stanley Donen and then to actor, choreographer, director & Donlen collaborator Gene Kelly.

    I always loved the gangsters in KMK. James Whitmore (Slug) is still acting and has been in hundreds of stage plays, TV shows & movies (including as one of the leader apes in Planet of the Apes). Whitmore's 2nd wife was Audra "Mrs. Roper" Lindley.

    Keenan Wynn (Lippy) is another character actor who’s been in everything. He divorced his first wife, Eve, with family friend Van Johnson named in the papers. Eve married Van the day after the divorce decree.

    Keenan Wynn was featured in MGM’s musical hit “Annie Get Your Gun” with Betty Hutton. Howard Keel one upped him with a starring role (Wild Bil Hicock) in Warner Brother’s answer to AGYG, “Calamity Jane” (with Doris Day).

    Wynn would later be featured on Dallas as Digger Barnes, the father of Pam (Victoria Principal). Not to be outdone, Howard Keel also showed up on Dallas in the much bigger role of Clayton Farlow, husband of Miss Ellie after Jock Ewing’s death.

    KMK was shot in 3-D. That's why Fred & Lili float out over the audience at the end. It's also why they throw all that crap directly at the camera.

    But still, this movie is all about the tights. Thank you MGM.

  • Bill

    Oh my goodness! And, of course, thank you Tom & Lorenzo for making this movie even better!

  • Brandenburg3rd

    While at the Friends of the Library sale this weekend, I “just missed” a book titled, “Opera As It Ought To Be Taught." Not quite as good as T&L but–duh, who could be?

    I propose “The Gayboys’ Guide to Musicals: What You Didn’t Know Will Hurt You”* *your sides will ache with laughter

    or something of the sort. That way, film students everywhere would look forward to plunking down money for at least one textbok.

  • KingRoper

    Now anytime I see Ann hiking up her dress to air out her ‘lady-bits’, I shall think of you and giggle… thanks!

    Any film with a musical ode to “Tom’s hairy old dick” (or do I only mishear that?) is good by me!

    And Fosse… mmmmm, Fosse. Hermes Pan (KMK’s choreographer) allowed him to stage his section of ‘From This Moment On’ with Carol Haney… and from the first sliding enterence to the stooped shoulders and finger snaps, you KNOW that this could only be his work. I also love that he’s just a bit fey here (which probably only helped him bag more women).

    Looking forward to Flower Drum Song… a musical in which nearly EVERY song is a dream sequence!

  • Anonymous

    And there’s still more fabulous stuff that couldn’t get squeezed in, like Annie’s “Always True to You” and the gangsters’ “Brush Up Your Shakespeare.” Hooray for men in tights! Must rent KMK now!

  • Angie

    D-d-d-dick! I love this movie and the Cole Porter tunes are great, the broadway soundtrack is a must.

  • madelineanne

    Wonderful as always darlings!

    And it is so great to see a sexy sexy woman whose thighs could contact each other without needing a DSL line and a wireless router. Hurrah for sexy non-twiglike women!

    Thank you so much you guys always make my Monday!

  • macasism

    Ok, it’s official, you don’t have to have seen the movie to enjoy the boys’ posts.

    It was obvious Fosse was allowed to choreograph his own bit. I forgot what a great dancer he was.

    Ann Miller is such a goddess….hey, once you crown your champ in Dames & Divas, can we do Dancing Diva championships? I've always thought it was between Ann & Cyd Charisse in the women's division, but that would be another fun contest.

    That technicolor is hurting my eyes….

  • Anonymous

    sorry boys, but i can’t help but be ambivalent towards this musical. the fruit fly in me looks @ this musical and says, “OH MY GOD!! cole porter, ann miller, bob fossee, and gay pride costuming? FABULOUS!!”
    however, the feminist side of my personality is horrified. uncertain about whether your ex-wife still loves you? spank her until she cries! then she’ll realize just how much she still cares about you. now, given the proper context (leather, restraints, and safe words), there would be nothing wrong with this conclusion. and at least they didn’t go as far as shakespeare did, adding food and sleep deprivation to physical abuse, in order to come up with the perfect stockholm syndrome happy ending.
    marisha

  • The Java Junkie

    Boys, you crack me up!!

    I can’t wait for Flower Drum Song…

    XOXOX

  • shrinkykitten

    It’s interesting how similar baby Fosse’s part of “From this moment on” is like “Steam heat” from the Pajama Game.

    Fosse is my total idol because of his ability to create a distinctive style from his weaknesses. There’s something quite incredible about finding strength in one’s weaknesses.

  • Anonymous

    Oh my God, the blue eye shadow!

    And I don’t mean to trash a legend, but did Ann Miller have gigantic feet? Every time I watch her dance, I keep wondering what’s going on because they look odd. Maybe all that tapping pounded them as flat as a scallopine. Plus she has the turn out of a ballerina which I find distracting – same as when I watched Audrey Hepburn walk in FF. I knew Audrey had years of ballet training. Maybe Ann did too.

  • annabelle

    I was in this play when I was ten ( played a flower girl. 2 scenes), and “It’s Too Darn Hot” is a longer number with a lot more people singing it.

  • Ian

    On stage, It’s Too Darn Hot is sung by a random chorus boy and is very possibly the gayest thing Porter ever wrote.

  • shiver72876

    Honeys, I LIVE for Musical Mondays!!!

    Ok, so I’ve never seen “Kiss Me, Kate” so didn’t know about Ann Miller and “Too Darn Hot!!” She was awesome in that number: dancing on the furniture, seducing the camera, orgasming all over the place! INCREDIBLE!!

  • Claire

    “Howard has a better idea. Spanking and gun threats! What refreshing and unusual methods to ensure entertainment quality! Why isn’t anyone doing this to Lindsay Lohan?”

    You boys make my day!

  • Anonymous

    I can’t tell you poodles how much I look forward to Mondays – makes my day!

    Why oh why didn’t you mention the slabs of blue-bad drag- eyeshadow????

    thank you thank you for all the smiles over the past months!

    ProfP

  • jlp

    I just noticed this: All visual content is copyrighted to its respectful owners.

    I’m pretty sure you mean “respective”!

  • TLo

    jlp said…

    I just noticed this: All visual content is copyrighted to its respectful owners.

    I’m pretty sure you mean “respective”!

    Yup! We copied and pasted the info and didn’t notice that. Thanks!

  • CostumeMom

    I am watching (or rather “re-watching” these musicals right along with you…and I love every minute of it. When do we get to watch “THE BAND WAGON”..Fred Astaire and “the lovely Cyd Charisse- how she dances….” Now, THAT is an almost perfect 1950s movie musical!

  • Anonymous

    Wonderful job as usual. I love this play and movie.

  • Anonymous

    I saw the 3-D version of KMK at the Castro Theater on Castro Street in SF in 1982. You think the line “I need a Dick” from Tom, Dick or Harry got a welcome reception? Ah, to be 20 again.

    Hodzer

  • mike.motaku

    Spanking and gun threats! What refreshing and unusual methods to ensure entertainment quality! Why isn’t anyone doing this to Lindsay Lohan?

    Oh, honeys! Don’t be messing’ with the trailer park gals. Bitch’ll cut ya.

    And speaking of spanking, who doesn’t love taut male ass in multi-colored tights?

  • Aimee

    “Spanking and gun threats! What refreshing and unusual methods to ensure entertainment quality! Why isn’t anyone doing this to Lindsay Lohan?”

    – Boys! What makes you think they’re not?

  • Laura

    Love it, love it, LOVE … IT!!! Snark and all.

    omigod really, you can only take these too too color-saturated movie musicals once every few years. Seriously, the day-glo orange, the fuschia, my eyes – it hurts, mommy, it hurts! So it’s such a joy to see only the really good bits, i.e., dancing, dancing, dancing and especially dick dick dick dickety dick!

    oh, and BTW I love your Project Rungay – keep it coming, guys!

  • Anonymous

    Ruh-roh left me howling with laughter when I FINALLY got it.

  • dramapriestess

    I just wanted you to know that I am a high school drama teacher in Kansas and I read your bit every Monday. It makes my day. And sometimes I even show my students!! Having been in musical theatre for thirty years, I feel you guys really say the things we’ve always wanted. LOVE IT!! Have you done Little Shop of Horrors yet?? That’s our next show.