AFI Catalog of Feature Films
Movie Detail
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On the Town
Director: Gene Kelly (Dir)
Release Date:   30 Dec 1949
Premiere Information:   New York opening: 8 Dec 1949
Production Date:   late Mar--mid-Jul 1949
Duration (in mins):   97-98
Duration (in feet):   8,759
Duration (in reels):   11
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Cast:   Gene Kelly (Gabey)  
    Frank Sinatra (Chip)  
    Betty Garrett (Brunhilde Esterhazy)  
    Ann Miller (Claire Huddesen)  
    Jules Munshin (Ozzie)  
    Vera-Ellen (Ivy Smith)  
    Florence Bates (Mme. Dilyovska)  
    Alice Pearce (Lucy Schmeeler)  
    George Meader (Professor)  
    Murray Alper (Cab owner)  
    Tom Dugan (Cop)  
    Robert B. Williams (Cop)  
    William "Bill" Phillips (Simkins)  
    Dick Wessel (Kovarsky)  
    Bea Benaderet (Brooklyn girl)  
    Gladys Blake (Brooklyn girl)  
    Milton Kibbee (Poster man)  
    Jack Shea (Marine)  
    Don Brodie (Publicity man)  
    Jed Dooley (Photographer)  
    Sid Melton (Cab checker)  
    Eugene Borden (Waiter)  
    Hans Conreid (Francois)  
    Peter Chong (Bartender)  
    Royal Raymond (Barker)  
    Helen McAllister (Kooch girl)  
    Lew Smith (Shore patrol officer )  
    Lennie Bremen (Spectator)  
    Jack Lee (Speed cop)  
    Bud Wolfe (Speed cop)  
    Frank Hagney (Speed cop)  
    Richard Kean (Poet type)  
    Gloria Marlen (Ballet girl)  
    Dorinda Clifton (Ballet girl)  
    Diane Nance (Little girl)  
    Helen Eby-Rock (Little girl's mother)  
    Tim Hawkins (Boy in subway train)  
    Norman Ollestad (Boy in subway train)  
    Curtis Jackson (Boy in subway train)  
    Carol Haney (Dancer)  
    Wanda Flippen    
    Ann Beck    
    Lester Dorr    
    Bob Stevenson    
    Claire Carleton    
    Bette Arlen    
    Pamela Vickers    
    Kerry O'Day    

Summary: Chip, Gabey and Ozzie, three sailors on a twenty-four hour shore leave, look for adventure and romance in New York City and seek out the city's best known attractions. Following a whirlwind tour of Manhattan that includes stops at the Empire State Building, Central Park and Rockefeller Center, Ozzie and Gabey decide to forgo sightseeing and instead pursue the beautiful women of New York. While riding on a subway, the three sailors see a poster of Ivy Smith, "Miss Turnstiles" for the month of June, and fall instantly in love with her. As they gaze dreamily at the poster, they imagine Ivy coming to life and revealing her life story in a dance. Although they all are taken with her beauty, Gabey is especially smitten with Ivy and vows to find her. To their astonishment, the sailors find Ivy as soon as they step off the train into the subway station, whiere Ivy is posing for a photo shoot. Gabey poses with her for a photograph, but before he can make an impression on her, she disappears. Gabey, Chip and Ozzie follow Ivy and pile into a taxicab driven by the flirtatious Brunhilde Esterhazy, who tries to seduce Chip. With the facts on the poster about Ivy's life as their only clues to her whereabouts, Gabey and his pals search for her in places she is likely to be found. Accompanied by Brunhilde, who is determined to snare Chip, the sailors look for Ivy at the Museum of Natural History, where Ozzie meets Claire Huddeson, an anthropologist who quickly succumbs to his charms. While celebrating their new love with a kiss and a dance, Ozzie and Claire accidentally destroy a dinosaur skeleton at the museum. They flee, but the police are on their trail. The search for Ivy continues at various museums around the city. Finally the group decides to split up and search for her separately, agreeing to meet at 8:30 that evening at the Empire State Building. Alone at last with Chip, Brunhilde takes him to her apartment, only to be greeted by her annoying, ailing roommate, Lucy Shmeeler. Meanwhile, Gabey finds Ivy in a dance studio, and she consents to go on a date with him that evening. As she owes her dance instructor, the unpleasant, dipsomaniacal Madame Dilyovska, a great deal of money, Ivy promises to return from her date at 11:30, in time to make her performance as a cooch dancer at Coney Island. At 8:30, Chip, Brunhilde, Ozzie, Claire and Gabey meet at the top of the Empire State Building, where they hide Ozzie from the policemen who are looking for him. When Ivy arrives, the three couples begin their wild night on the town. The merriment soon comes to an end, however, when, at 11:30, Ivy vanishes without explanation, leaving behind only a brief farewell note. Although his pals try to cheer him up by quickly substituting Lucy for Ivy, Gabey gets drunk and sadly recalls his time with Ivy. Later, acting on a tip from Madame Dilyovska, Gabey and his pals find Ivy at Coney Island, where she admits that shame made her keep her job a secret from him. Gabey and Ivy soon resume their romance, but they only have a few hours remaining before the end of Gabey's shore leave. After Ivy, Claire and Brunhilde persuade the police to drop the charges against the men, the three women bid their sailors farewell at the shipyard. 

Production Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp. (Loew's Inc.)
Distribution Company: Loew's Inc.  
Director: Gene Kelly (Dir)
  Stanley Donen (Dir)
  Jack Gertsman (Asst dir)
Producer: Arthur Freed (Prod)
  Roger Edens (Assoc prod)
Writer: Adolph Green (Scr)
  Betty Comden (Scr)
Photography: Harold Rosson (Dir of photog)
  Harry Stradling (Photog)
  Frank Shugrue (Stills)
  Robert Martin (Cam op)
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons (Art dir)
  Jack Martin Smith (Art dir)
Film Editor: Ralph E. Winters (Film ed)
Set Decoration: Edwin B. Willis (Set dec)
  Jack D. Moore (Assoc)
Costumes: Helen Rose (Cost)
Music: Lennie Hayton (Mus dir)
  Conrad Salinger (Orch)
  Saul Chaplin (Vocal arr)
Sound: Douglas Shearer (Rec supv)
  John A. Williams (Sd)
Special Effects: Warren Newcombe (Spec eff)
Make Up: Sydney Guilaroff (Hair styles designed by)
  Jack Dawn (Makeup created by)
Production Misc: Lela Simone (Asst to Freed)
  Hugh Boswell (Prod mgr)
  Jack Aldworth (Scr supv)
  Lloyd Isbell (Grip)
Stand In: Judy Holliday (Voice of a sailor's date)
Color Personnel: Henri Jaffa (Technicolor color consultant)
  James Gooch (Technicolor color consultant)
Country: United States

Music: "A Day in New York Ballet" and "Miss Turnstiles Dance," composed by Leonard Bernstein.
Songs: "New York, New York" and "Come Up to My Place," music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green; "Main Street," "You're Awful," "Prehistoric Man," "On the Town," Count on Me" and "Pearl of the Persian Sea," music by Roger Edens, lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green.
Composer: Leonard Bernstein
  Betty Comden
  Roger Edens
  Adolph Green
Source Text: Based on the musical On the Town book by Adolph Green and Betty Comden, from an idea by Jerome Robbins, with music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Adolph Green, Betty Comden and Leonard Bernstein; directed on the stage by George Abbott and produced by Oliver Smith and Paul Feigay (New York, 28 Dec 1944).
Authors: Paul Feigay
  Oliver Smith
  George Abbott
  Leonard Bernstein
  Jerome Robbins
  Betty Comden
  Adolph Green

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number Passed By NBR:
Loew's Inc. 1/12/1949 dd/mm/yyyy LP2726 Yes

PCA NO: 13929
Physical Properties: col: Technicolor
  Sd: Western Electric Sound System

 
Genre: Musical comedy
  Musical comedy
  Romance
 
Subjects (Major): Chases
  Dancers
  Museums
  New York City
  Romance
  Sailors
  Tourists
 
Subjects (Minor): Alcoholics
  Anthropologists
  Cabarets
  Dance teachers
  Deception
  Dinosaurs
  Empire State Building (New York City)
  Female impersonation
  Head colds
  Models
  Museum of Anthropological History (New York City)
  New York City--Brooklyn Navy Yard
  New York City--Central Park
  New York City--Coney Island
  Nightclubs
  Police
  Roommates
  Statue of Liberty National Monument (New York City)
  Subways
  Taxicab drivers

Note: The stage musical On the Town was based on the Jerome Robbins ballet entitled Fancy Free , which opened at the Ballet Theatre in New York in the spring of 1944. In addition to writing the book for the stage version of On the Town and writing the screenplay for the film, Betty Comden and Adolph Green appeared in the stage version in the roles of "Claire" and "Ozzie." News items in HR in 1945 note that M-G-M purchased the rights to the musical (before it opened) for $250,000, and that $65,000 of that sum was used to finance the Broadway run of the show. A biography of producer Arthur Freed notes the following information regarding the development of the film: Before purchasing the film rights to the musical, M-G-M had assigned George Abbott, the director of the stage show, to direct the film version. According to the Freed biography, Louis B. Mayer and other studio executives disliked the stage show when they saw it and regretted their involvement in the property. By Nov 1945, the studio had assigned Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen to direct the film, and contracted Comden and Green to rewrite the book with much of Bernstein's original score discarded. The film features only four songs from the original musical, those composed by Leonard Bernstein, and six that were created especially for the screen. According to information contained in the file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, the Breen Office refused to allow the use of the word "helluva" in the song "New York, New York [it's a helluva town]." M-G-M later changed the word to "wonderful." The biography of Freed lists Andrew Marton as the second unit director and Charles Schoenbaum as the second unit photographer. HR production charts list Clinton Sundberg in the cast, but he did not appear in the released film. A May 1949 HR news item lists actress Irene Rohan in the cast, but her appearance in the final film has not been confirmed.
       According to a Jun 1949 HR news item, cameraman Harry Stradling worked on the film briefly, shooting one of the last musical sequences for the film. Various HR news items indicate that nine days of filming took place at many locations in New York City, including the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Wall Street, the Statue of Liberty, Central Park and Fifth Avenue. The location shooting marked the first time a major studio dispatched a company to film musical numbers in public areas of New York City. Modern sources note that the final cost of the film was $2,100,000, and that is grossed in excess of $4,440,000. Roger Edens and Lennie Hayton received an Academy Award for the film's musical score. On the Town marked the screen debut of actresses Carol Haney and Bea Benaderet. On the Town was ranked 19th on AFI's list of the Greatest Movie Musicals. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   10 Dec 1949.   
Daily Variety   6 Dec 49   p. 3, 8
Film Daily   13 Dec 49   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   6 Feb 45   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   1 Apr 49   p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter   2 May 49   p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter   4 May 49   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   18 May 49   p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter   27 Jun 49   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   8 Jul 49   p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter   6 Dec 49   p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   10 Dec 49   p. 113.
New York Times   7 Dec 49   p. 6.
New York Times   9 Dec 49   p. 37.
Variety   7 Dec 49   p. 6.

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
 
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