Red Garters (1954)


Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5

USA, 1954Screenplay by Cinematography by Produced by Music by Production Design by , Costume Design by , Film Editing by .

This musical western tries to make up for its wan plot and bland characters by emphasizing its spirit of innovation, even declaring its originality in the opening credits. Said fresh approach is that it’s a musical spoof of westerns that is set in an artificial environment (even the outdoor scenes are filmed on painted indoor sets) and, when originally released, was also screened in 3D. The idea was to give audiences of the time the opportunity to see an Oklahoma-esque Broadway musical but at movie theatre prices, but audiences stayed away in droves and, decades later, we’re only left with a two-dimensional experience in more ways than one. The trite narrative has show up in a dusty town on the day that a known criminal has been killed and the locals are celebrating his funeral. Mitchell turns out to be the deceased’s brother and he’s looking for the man responsible for killing him. To complicate things, he falls in love with dewy young while simultaneously making an enemy of her protector and ward (), who is himself stringing saloon singer along and won’t commit. The songs by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans are mostly delightful and Clooney’s delivery of her numbers is stellar (more than making up for her typically unimaginative acting), while Nick Castle’s choreography almost reaches the quality of the same year’s Seven Brides For Seven Brothers. It’s a curiosity for fans of classic musicals, while everyone else will be bored stiff.

Academy Award Nomination:  Best Art Direction-Colour


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