Musicals In Leo's Shadow
Three Sailors and A Girl (1953) Revamps Another Old Property
|Stretch Those L.A. Screens!|
Warners would get serious about song/dance with discovery/development of Doris Day. To her progress would come assist of Gordon McRae and Gene Nelson. Three Sailors and A Girl, minus Day, was strictly road company beside MGM's On The Town, which it emulated to a degree, as did Universal with sailor-suited Tony Curtis observing So This Is Paris (no it wasn't, being backlot lensed), plus All Ashore's (Columbia) cut-rate nautical trio, headed by Mickey Rooney. These were strictly ersatz beside Metro, at least comparatively so. By themselves, it was possible to get by, as did Three Sailors and A Girl, released in late 1953 and stretched for suddenly widened screens unbecoming to head-to-toe performance by a dancing cast. What thrill derived from Gene Nelson tapping where his feet were cropped? MGM had inarguable lead in the race for musical primacy, but a number of theirs lost money thanks to so much poured on (The Bandwagon for instance, a 1953 release). Three Sailors and A Girl, along with similar others, could profit more by spending less.
Likely largest tab for Three Sailors and A Girl, as least in cast terms, was borrow of Jane Powell from MGM. She's not flattered by the switch; makeup, hair, costuming all cruder applied than loving care dealt by Leo. Co-stars might have wished they could return with her to Culver, Gordon McRae not getting chance at a really top musical until
Basis yarn had whiskers, The Butter and Egg Man dating back to 20's and inherited by WB among properties that came with acquisition of First National, latter having announced Butter/Egg for Harry Langdon in long-ago silent era. The property, originating on Broadway, was adapted to movies at least thrice before Three Sailors and A Girl, each time shifted slightly to cloud sameness. 50's Warner went back in files for not a few of musicals ... No, No, Nanette redone for Doris Day, Brother Rat back as About Face. Formula thus weighs heavy on the lot, these coming to life only when participants sing/dance. Comedy is less well-served, Leonard left to trade on girth with no shading beyond. Same for Sam Levene as a producer who crooks the trio out of savings, a part made unsympathetic where it needn't be. Three Sailors and A Girl gives impression of being done on a stopwatch with all of corners cut, but offers window to Warners on 50's retrench setting. Big help is TCM running it HD, again a tip-over from no-watch to giving Three Sailors and A Girl a go.