Stars: Kathryn Grayson, Red Skelton, Howard Keel, Marge Champion, Gower Champion, Ann Miller
Spoiler Alert: I’m a Kathryn Grayson junkie. It’s a chronic condition which I have no plans to try to find a cure for. Of her three movies with Howard Keel, this is probably rated the worst, but it’s been near to my heart since I was 14 years old. I’m never going to turn my back on it. I will, however, call anyone who tells you I used to write fan fiction based on the movie a complete liar boo boo face. Even though they’re not lying. Whoops. There goes my deepest, darkest secret.
Lovely To Look At is MGM’s take on the RKO Irene Dunne/Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers vehicle, Roberta. It contains the immortal classic Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, which, in many people’s opinions is at its best, sung by Miss Kathryn Grayson. Kathryn once told a story that her divorce from Johnnie Johnston was being finalized just about the time she was to film the Smoke Gets In Your Eyes scene. Everyone on set was reduced to tears, including her own daughter, who became upset when everyone else did. She had to stop and explain that Mommy was playing make believe, and nothing at all was wrong. *sob* To have been there…
I could go on for days about all the things I love in this movie, but instead I’ll focus on just one- Kathryn’s drunk scene. I have this theory that it was so entertaining and so hilarious that MGM was afraid of doing it more than once- the world might explode with laughter. “You have to sit in a carriage pulled by a poor tired old horse…” Yes, I can recite the entire thing. I think what makes the whole thing is that Kathryn is the last person you’d ever picture hammered, even though she used to hang with Lana and Ava. Yes, THAT Lana and THAT Ava. Now, I didn’t say that she could drink them under any tables, or even keep up, but she did try!
Lovely To Look At also has the distinction of being Zsa Zsa Gabor’s first role in a feature film, playing a French model named, you guessed it, Zsa Zsa. She and Kathryn would remain good friends until the end of Kathryn’s life. Learn something new about Kathryn every day, huh? 🙂
Its hard for me to say that everyone will love this movie as much as I do, but I feel that most would at least enjoy it. I show it to lots of friends, and they all come away either with a positive word or a desire to own it, themselves. Either that says something for the movie or my friends, I don’t know. Though I haven’t given the film’s three dancers a proper shout out, you won’t be disappointed by the numbers. The Starry Sky Smoke Gets In Your Eyes dance is one of the most finely choreographed and emotional dances ever filmed. And you can’t beat the camp factor of the wolf masks in Ann Miller’s I’ll Be Hard To Handle number!
So, what have we learned today? Kathryn Grayson was an awesome woman, and more multi faceted than you ever knew. Also, you might want to check her out in Lovely To Look At, which is available HERE, from our friends at Warner Archive.
Gratuitous Kathryn. You’re welcome.