Still, bringing to the screen was hardly a joy galore for Vincente Minnelli.
In fact, the project was repeatedly stalled, first – to satisfy contractual obligations pertaining to its Broadway run, then by a sudden disinterest afflicting Comden and Green, who had been paid handsomely to adapt ‘ mildly incensed producer, Arthur Freed; a script for a nearly three hour feature MGM had neither the time, ambitions or budget to make.
Hence, what we have here (despite the promises made in a breathtaking aerial intro to the isle of Manhattan – in Cinemascope) is a studio-bound effort, more at home in the isolated trappings borrowed from virtually every Metro musical (and a few non-musicals) made at that studio from the 1940’s; given a fresh coat of paint (but precious little else), if ever so slight a rearrangement to camouflage its ‘hand-me-down’ effect.
Hence, it is saying a great deal of the stars of this movie, also Minnelli’s direction, that the resultant film – despite its many shortcomings – is an effervescent gem, even if the many delays incurred along the way had allowed the glowing memory of the Broadway original to fade from public consciousness by the time the movie came out.
In some ways, the property fit MGM’s idea of mass entertainment better than its’ direct competition on Broadway then; Lerner and Loewe’s My Fair Lady, eventually snatched up by Warner Bros.