#11. On the Town – 1949
(#19 on the AFI list)
On the Town… also known as the movie where a 34-year-old Frank Sinatra pretends he has never been to New York.
The directorial debut of Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen, this film is an adaptation of the stage musical of the same name. Kelly, Sinatra and Jules Munshin play three sailors on a day of shore leave in the Big Apple, and Betty Garrett, Ann Miller and Vera-Ellen play their love interests.
Leonard Bernstein wrote the music for the stage musical, but many of his songs were scrapped for this film version, replaced by new tunes written by Roger Edens. Bernstein boycotted the film as a result.
Kelly and Donen opted to film several scenes on location in New York City, despite the availability of elaborate “New York” backlots at MGM. Their biggest challenge was dealing with crowds of Sinatra fans.
What I loved best about this movie was the attention given to the female characters. These smart, funny, talented women match their male counterparts beat for beat, turning this into a thoroughly entertaining triple date.
On the Town was nominated for (and won) a single Oscar, for Best Scoring of a Musical Picture.