Anchors Aweigh Sparkles On DVD

Frank Sinatra, Kathryn Grayson, Gene Kelly. Directed by George Sidney. Aspect ratio: 1.33:1 (original full-frame). Dolby Digital 1.0. 140 minutes. 1945. Warner Bros. 65070. NR. $19.99.

Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra are sailors on leave in Hollywood—Gene is the playboy; Frank, the shy, sweet guy from Brooklyn—who meet Kathryn, an aspiring singer. Frank thinks she's the ideal girl for him, and Gene tries to help his friend by telling her that Frank is a buddy of pianist-conductor José Iturbi, and can get her an audition with him. Gene hears Kathryn sing, which makes him fall in love with her. Then Frank sings, which makes a waitress from Brooklyn (is there a pattern here?) fall in love with him. Will Kathryn get her audition? Will she sing up a storm? Will Gene and Kathryn end up together? Will Frank realize that he's really in love with the Girl from Brooklyn? Will Gene dance with Jerry the cartoon mouse (of Tom and Jerry fame)? Will there be a big number with sailors singing "Anchors Aweigh"? You betcha!

Anchors Aweigh catches Kelly and Sinatra at the peak of their powers. Kelly's dancing has poise, athleticism, and even greater ease than in Singin' in the Rain and An American in Paris. Sinatra, looking incredibly skinny, does a surprisingly good job of keeping up with Kelly's dancing in one of the numbers, and he sings, as the Girl from Brooklyn says, "like a boid." Kathryn Grayson sings like an angel, and eight-year-old Dean Stockwell (known to fans of Quantum Leap as the lecherous Al) is adorable as her curly-topped nephew.

Musically, Anchors Aweigh presents an eclectic mixture, including pop versions of tunes by Brahms and Tchaikovsky, some classical piano, "The Donkey Serenade," "The Mexican Hat Dance," and "I Fall In Love Too Easily," one of the most beautiful popular songs ever written, here given its definitive rendition by Sinatra. Kelly's famous dance with Jerry the mouse is amazingly well done, especially considering that this was many years before the technology that would permit Stuart Little. Anchors Aweigh was released just after World War II, and its innocence and renewed optimism are very much of its time. It is dated only in the most charming way. I love it.

The video transfer to DVD is exceptionally well done, detailed without being over-etched, and with vibrant colors. The video quality is good enough that you can easily see the different look of "outdoor" scenes that were shot in an indoor studio vs. the few scenes actually shot outdoors. The mono soundtrack is clear and natural-sounding.