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Robin9

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I really like this film! In her very readable autobiography, Esther Williams tells of what a miserable time she had making this movie.
 

Robin9

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What was the issue on that film?
Esther says that Gene Kelly resented her being in the film, partly because she replaced Judy Garland who became ill and partly because she was taller than he was. She claims that Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen ganged up to make her life wretched. Interestingly, she also says that she became lifelong good friends with Frank Sinatra: interesting because normally Gene Kelly is regarded as a good guy while Frank Sinatra is often painted as an egotistical SOB.

Obviously there are two sides to any story and no doubt Gene Kelly would have told a different one. It does seem to have been the case that both he and she were sensitive about their heights.
 

Robert Crawford

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Esther says that Gene Kelly resented her being in the film, partly because she replaced Judy Garland who became ill and partly because she was taller than he was. She claims that Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen ganged up to make her life wretched. Interestingly, she also says that she became lifelong good friends with Frank Sinatra: interesting because normally Gene Kelly is regarded as a good guy while Frank Sinatra is often painted as an egotistical SOB.

Obviously there are two sides to any story and no doubt Gene Kelly would have told a different one. It does seem to have been the case that both he and she were sensitive about their heights.
Thank you for responding. Does anybody know whether Kelly was particularly close with Garland as I know they did their share of movies together?
 

Robin9

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The way I've heard it and read about it, Gene Kelly was awestruck by Judy Garland's talent and was eternally grateful to her for the help she gave on their first film together. I haven't heard that their social lives intermingled.
 

Matt Hough

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When the story for the film was first conceived, Kathryn Grayson was penciled in for the female lead, but Arthur Freed quickly erased her name and substituted Garland. But Judy never even made it to rehearsals for the film, so Esther was substituted. By that time, she was MGM's biggest female star at the box-office so it wasn't that big a surprise she was chosen.
 

bbath7

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Thank you for responding. Does anybody know whether Kelly was particularly close with Garland as I know they did their share of movies together?
I've interviewed Patricia Ward Kelly, Gene's widow, a couple times. She said he absolutely adored Judy. They were like family. He also thought she was the smartest, sexiest woman in Hollywood.
 

JoelA

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When the story for the film was first conceived, Kathryn Grayson was penciled in for the female lead, but Arthur Freed quickly erased her name and substituted Garland. But Judy never even made it to rehearsals for the film, so Esther was substituted. By that time, she was MGM's biggest female star at the box-office so it wasn't that big a surprise she was chosen.
Yes, that's what I've read as well and even with all the drama behind the scenes Esther is absolutely delightful in this film. Possibly we'll find out Gene's side of the story when his wife Patricia releases her book about his life.

I read that director Busby Berkeley had planned a water ballet for Esther, but Kelly put the brakes on that.

I'm really looking forward to another 3-strip Technicolor feast for the eyes from WAC. This film looked wonderful on HBO Max recently.
 

Billy Batson

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I really like this film! In her very readable autobiography, Esther Williams tells of what a miserable time she had making this movie.
I think Esther Williams is the star of that doc about MGM, MGM: When The Lion Roars. She really tells it like it is (was), I love her description of the difference between the MGM bigwigs who came to visit the studio & the MGM workers & actors...Arrogance & good tailors.
 

Robin9

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Esther says that Gene Kelly resented her being in the film, partly because she replaced Judy Garland who became ill and partly because she was taller than he was. She claims that Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen ganged up to make her life wretched. Interestingly, she also says that she became lifelong good friends with Frank Sinatra: interesting because normally Gene Kelly is regarded as a good guy while Frank Sinatra is often painted as an egotistical SOB.

Obviously there are two sides to any story and no doubt Gene Kelly would have told a different one. It does seem to have been the case that both he and she were sensitive about their heights.
By strange coincidence I'm currently reading Robert Wagner's book Pieces Of My Heart. He tells how for his fiftieth birthday Natalie Wood threw a party and invited "dozens of the people I love most" which included both Gene Kelly and Esther Williams! (It also included Robert Mitchum, Henry Fonda, Suzanne Pleshette, Claire Trevor and Stefanie Powers. Mr. Wagner had a wide and impressive circle of friends)
 

Garysb

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I thought this was a re release of a WHV blu ray but apparently only the other Kelly/Sinatra films , "On The Town" and "Anchors Away" are already on blu ray. Though the reviews of those blu rays were not positive. Hopefully one day they will be revisited.
 

Robin9

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I thought this was a re release of a WHV blu ray but apparently only the other Kelly/Sinatra films , "On The Town" and "Anchors Away" are already on blu ray. Though the reviews of those blu rays were not positive. Hopefully one day they will be revisited.
Those two Blu-ray discs were released in the bad old days prior to Warner Archive taking over Warner's Blu-ray program. Until then, the quality of discs coming from Warners was inconsistent, with many disappointments.
 

Ethan Riley

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Not my favorite Esther movie. That would actually be 'Jupiter's Darling,' which people make fun of. But you have to--it's a camp classic. I'll probably get Ball Game because I haven't seen it since the 70s and these pre-orders are votes for even deeper catalog titles like 'Jupiter."
 

Garysb

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Without a press release there are no mentions of extras. I hope they will include the outtake "Boys and Girls Like You And Me" the song by Rodgers and Hammerstein that was cut from this film and "Meet Me In St Louis". I believe it was included with the DVD. While both film and sound for the number exist they don't match. Dialogue before the song starts is missing and it appears they just added a recording of the song to play over the film footage.


 
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Joe Caps

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people always mention gene Kelly and Judy garland as a film team, when they only made two films together - For Me and My Gal and Summer Stock.
 

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Personally, I've always felt 'Ball Game' was the weakest of the Kelly/Sinatra teamings. It's still a smartly turned out movie, with much to recommend it. But by then, Kelly and Donen were not in a good place, and Sinatra had tired of playing the Kelly-not character, a wimpy counterpoint who can't land the girl but settles for the second-string love interest, herein played by Betty Garrett.

I think the ending (spoiler), in which the cast suddenly take themselves out of character and refer to themselves by their real names, summarizing the cliches of the Hollywood musical in a song, is a bit of a cheat. I mean, was there no other way to convey the proverbial 'happy ending' than to admit that one was likely forthcoming for the characters, suddenly ripped from us to close the show on a quickie note instead?

RE: Boys and Girls Like You and Me - I've never felt it was a great song. There's a reason it didn't wind up in Oklahoma!, Meet Me In St. Louis or Take Me Out to the Ball Game. It's weak. Sinatra's rendition is the best of the lot, proving a true crooner could make something even of an anemic little castoff. I love Esther in this movie. I think the disconnect for many is that they expect her to appear in some grandiose aquacade sequence pasted into the middle of this vintage puff pastry.

She swims, but only by moonlight and alone, briefly to be serenaded by Sinatra singing the far more evocative ballad, "She's The Right Girl for Me". But Esther was an exceptionally fine talent even out of the water and proves it here, and in the as underrated picture, Fiesta (1947) in which she doesn't even get her toe wet. A great comedian, with great heart and charm. Fanny Brice once said, "In the water, she's dynamite. On land, she's just a nice girl who should get married and settle down." With all due respect to Ms. Brice, I wholeheartedly disagree.