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Lovely to Look At, starring Red Skelton, Howard Keel

movie review of Lovely to Look At (1952) starring Howard Keel, Kathryn Grayson, Red Skelton, Ann Miller

Lovely to Look At, starring Red Skelton, Howard KeelBuy from Amazon.comLovely to Look At is a combination romance, musical, comedy, and fashion show €”– no, really.   It’€™s the story of three Americans (Al Marsh played by Red Skelton, Tony Naylor played by Howard Keel, Jerry Ralby played by Gower Champion) who are looking for financial backers for the Broadway show they want to put on … unsuccessfully.   They are out of options, when Al’€™s Aunt Roberta dies, leaving him with partial ownership of a fashionable Paris dress shop.   With financial backing from Tony’s €œfriend – Bubbles Cassidy (played by Ann Miller), the three of them are soon flying to Paris, to try and sell Al’s share in the dress shop €”but Al’€™s French cousins Stephanie (played by Kathryn Grayson) and Clarisse (played by Marge Champion) can’t afford to sell, since the dress shop is on the verge of bankruptcy.   So what €™s the solution?   The Americans decide that they need to merge a fancy Parisian dress shop with a Broadway show, to bring in potential buyers.

Soon, various people are falling in love with each other, tensions build, there €™s plenty of singing and dancing, and Red Skelton does a hilarious version of his Irish Tenor skit.   There €™s a funny part of the movie where the group all decide to go out and see the sites of Paris, with Red Skelton’s character, slightly-inebriated, collecting ash trays from the various places … and pouring his heart out to the wrong girl.   It €™s also where they meet Max and his date Zsa Zsa (this is Zsa Zsa Gabor’s first film role), who like to party €”and they eventually find out that Max is actually a producer.   Will the boys stay in Paris to help the girls, or go back to the United States and put on their production?   You’ll have to watch the movie and find out.

Lovely to Look At is an enjoyable romantic/musical/comedy/fashion show, although at times it seems to suffer from an identity crisis — the songs are plentiful and beautifully sung, the dancing is enjoyable, and Red Skelton is at his best.

Music from Lovely to Look At

  • Smoke Gets in Your Eyes
    • Music by Jerome Kern, lyrics by Otto A. Harbach and Dorothy Fields, sung by Kathryn Grayson, and later danced by Gower Champion and Marge Champion
  • Lovely To Look At
    • from the 1935 film version of “Roberta” — music by Jerome Kern, original lyrics by Dorothy Fields, sung by Kathryn Grayson and Howard Keel
  • The Touch of Your Hand
    • Music by Jerome Kern, lyrics by Otto A. Harbach, sung by Kathryn Grayson
  • I Won €™t Dance
    • Music by Jerome Kern, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II and Dorothy Fields, sung and danced by Marge Champion and Gower Champion
  • Yesterdays
    • Music by Jerome Kern, lyrics by Otto A. Harbach, sung by Kathryn Grayson
  • You €™re Devastating
    • Music by Jerome Kern, lyrics by Otto A. Harbach, sung by Howard Keel
  • I €™ll Be Hard to Handle
    • Music by Jerome Kern, lyrics by Bernard Dougall, sung and Danced by Ann Miller and Men’s Chorus
  • Lafayette
    • Music by Jerome Kern, performed by Howard Keel, Red Skelton and Gower Champion

Trivia about Lovely to Look At

  • During a party scene, Al Marsh (Red Skelton) does an €œIrish tenor € skit, intermingling comedy and song. As the audience laughs, he comments €œ”Well, you knew I wasn €™t Howard Keel when I came out here.” € Howard Keel, of course, co-starred in the movie as €œTony Naylor. €
  • The plot of the original Broadway show €œRoberta €, on which the movie is based, was almost entirely changed for this film, except for the situation of somebody inheriting a dress shop. But the two songs written for the 1935 film version of €œRoberta € were retained for this film. Several of the songs from the show which were omitted from the 1935 film were brought back for Howard Keel to sing.
  • Howard Keel €™s character was named €œTony Naylor €. During the 1950s and 60s, one of the most popular hang-outs for the stars in to meet after the filming was called €œTiny Naylors €. It was located in Hollywood at the corner of Sunset Blvd and Vine Streets. Keel €™s characters €™ name was a nod to that famous coffee shop.
  • The lavish fashion-show sequence, directed by the uncredited Vincente Minnelli, showcased the gowns of Adrian, the influential designer associated with MGM €™s golden age of Garbo, Shearer, Harlow and Crawford. Adrian’s work on the entire feature concluded his 28-year film career.
  • Zsa Zsa Gabor €™s movie debut.

Editorial review of Lovely to Look At, courtesy of Amazon.com

This season in Paris, Red is all the rage! Red Skelton headlines a joyful Technicolor(r) remake of Roberta as a New York producer who inherits a failing Parisian fashion house. His partners are Howard Keel and Gower Champion and the lovelies they look at are Kathyrn Grayson, Ann Miller and Marge Champion. Which means the zippy story (everyone falls in love with everyone else as they scramble to save the salon) is in masterful hands. But the talent doesn €™t stop there. Jerome Kern provides 10 classics, including Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, Yesterdays, I Won’t Dance and the title song. And Vincente Minnelli directs the finale, a razzling, dazzling, riotous-with-color Broadway-style fashion show featuring fabulous Adrian couture.

 

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