Metro Muscles In Another Musical
Athena (1954) Kids Then-Health Crazing
An MGM musical for the second team: producing Joe Pasternak, stars Jane Powell, Debbie Reynolds, Edmund Purdom, Vic Damone. The accent's on youth; these were to be a next generation of musical leads for Metro, and had this been ten years before, maybe that would have worked out, but 1954 was close to the cliff for dollars it cost to do songfests decently, let alone profitably. Athena lost money even for economy the Schary regime enforced: a mere $1.4 million in negative cost that $1.2 million in domestic rentals wouldn't cover. The loss was $458K, not crippling because there were MGM musicals that year that did earn profits, Seven Brides For Seven Brothers and The Student Prince being notables. Vic Damone was a noble experiment, being big on TV and shellac sales, but somehow he wouldn't click in movies. Athena's story was at least a departure, Powell and Reynolds eligible daughters of a screwball "health-nut" family, an idea that got serious traction when cultural nets drew in and welcomed such alternate lifestyle. Maybe Athena was twenty years ahead of its time. Musclemen are a backdrop throughout, one of them Steve Reeves of future Hercules assignment. Irksome how differences seemingly irreconcilable are magically put right, or simply ignored, to force a happy ending. I'll make allowance for lots in a musical, but it's tough imagining much future for these characters beyond the fade. Athena is another that plays HD on Warner Instant, looking great and with (real) stereo applied to the music numbers.