Anchors Aweigh Two sailors, one naive, the other experienced in the ways of the world, a musical set in Los Angeles. It’s a 21-Gun Musical Salute in Technicolor!
One of the most popular musicals of the period
Under the direction of George Sidney, it had the benefits of a pleasant score, andbest of allthe services of Gene Kelly in his first true starring role at MGM The year before, in Columbia’s “Cover Girl,” he had revealed an innovative approach to dance on the screen, a light but agreeable singing voice, and considerable charm In “Anchors Aweigh,” although he was billed under Frank Sinatra and Kathryn Grayson, he was laying the solid groundwork for his most revealing years at MGM
The film’s story, a kind of dry run for “On the Town” four years later, follows sailors Kelly and Sinatra on shore leave, spend their holiday in Hollywood, where they become involved in the affairs of an aspiring singer (Grayson) and her little nephew (Dean Stockwell).
Grayson, it appears, has her heart set on an audition with conductor-pianist Jose Iturbi She gets the audition, of course; Kelly gets Grayson after some misunderstandings; and Sinatra, has forgotten to be shy, and has lost his heart to a girl from Brooklyn (Pamela Britton).
The plot is conventional for the period but, regrettably, it now seems barely tolerable But there is Gene Kelly, who dominates the movie with his agreeable personality Perhaps he grins too much, but when is permitted to dance, the film finally lifts off the ground
“I Begged Her,” his early song and dance with Sinatra, is amusing and slightly absurd, in which he imagines himself as a bandit chieftain in a Spanish courtyard, courting maiden Grayson with a flamboyant flamenco dance and some athletic leaps He also does a charming Mexican dance with little Sharon McManus in the square of a Mexican settlement in Los Angeles
The highlight of the movie, however, is Kelly’s famous dance with the cartoon character Jerry the Mouse (of “Tom and Jerry” fame). Delightful and innovative, it skillfully combines live action and animation in its tale of a sad mouse king who refuses to allow music in his kingdom until Kelly, a sailor in the “Pomeranian Navy,” wearing a striped shirt and a beret, shows him how to dance “Look at me, I’m dancin’!” says the gleeful mouse king…