Kiss Me, Kate (1958)

Kiss Me, Kate Poster

Abridged version of the classic Cole Porter musical as broadcast live on the Hallmark Hall of Fame series on NBC

"Kiss Me, Kate" is a 1958 American musical movie adaptation of the Broadway show of the same name, based on the Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare. The film was directed by George Sidney, produced by Jack Cummings, and starred Howard Keel, Kathryn Grayson, and Ann Miller. With its dynamic technicolor, gleaming music, and performances, the film encapsulates mid-20th-century Hollywood movie musicals at their best.

Plot Summary
The story unfolds as a play within a play, with ex-spouses Kathryn Grayson as Lilli Vanessi and Howard Keel as Fred Graham leading a musical adjustment of Shakespeare's "The Taming of the Shrew". While playing Katherine and Petruchio onstage, the feuding couple revives their real-life love.

The movie opens in Baltimore, where the fledgling program is getting ready for its Broadway debut. While Fred, as the director, producer, and star, demands a five-week trial run, Lilli is only thinking about a quick escape to her rich future husband Harrison Howell. An added twist can be found in the kind of an extra set of betting debt-ridden hoods (Keenan Wynn and James Whitmore). On the other hand, the secondary romantic plot features Ann Miller as Lois Lane/ Bianca, and Tommy Rall as Bill Calhoun/ Lucentio, whose romance is threatened by Bill's gaming addiction.

Performances and Music
The movie includes impressive efficiencies and choreography, especially in the blistering dance number "Too Darn Hot" by Ann Miller, which showcases her remarkable tap-dancing skills, and "Brush Up Your Shakespeare", a comedic routine carried out by Wynn and Whitmore. Kathryn Grayson and Howard Keel deliver strong singing performances throughout the film, with standout numbers like "So In Love" and "Wunderbar", and take part in sizzling battles of both wit and physical funny.

Critical Reception
"Kiss Me, Kate" was well-received by critics and audiences alike. It was particularly applauded for its vibrant technicolor display screen, Cole Porter's lyrically rich music, the comedic interaction in between the main characters, and the energetic dance sequences. The film also got an Academy Award election for Best Scoring of a Musical Picture.

"Kiss Me, Kate" remains a delightful and gleaming cinematic adaptation of a musical classic that incredibly encapsulates 1950s' Hollywood design and glamour. The charming mix of Shakespeare's wit, Porter's music and lyrics, superb performances, and Sidney's direction, make it a memorable musical. Wit, love, competitions, and confusion socialize to produce a concoction of comedy and romance that continues to charm audiences even after over half a century since its release.

Top Cast

  • Alfred Drake (small)
    Alfred Drake
    Frederick Graham / Petruchio
  • Patricia Morison (small)
    Patricia Morison
    Lilli Vanessi / Kate
  • Julie Wilson (small)
    Julie Wilson
    Lois Lane / Bianca
  • Bill Hayes
    Bill Calhoun / Lucentio
  • Harvey Lembeck (small)
    Harvey Lembeck
  • Jack Klugman (small)
    Jack Klugman
  • Paul McGrath
    Harrison Howell
  • Robinson Stone (small)
    Robinson Stone
    Harry Trevor / Baptista
  • Lee Cass
  • Jerry Duane
  • Eva Jessye