2/7/08

LAST GASPS OF THE MGM LION: "MEET ME IN...LAS VEGAS?"

meetmeinlvposer

I normally wouldn't write about a film I've never seen. But this is different. Not only have I never seen "Meet Me In Las Vegas", a 1956 end-of-the-era MGM musical starring Dan Dailey and Cyd Charisse, I've never even heard of it. I don't mean to sound boastful, but this is damn near impossible. I've heard of every mainstream American film made me between 1929-1970. But "Meet Me In Las Vegas?"


What makes this even more puzzling is that, from the looks of the below clip, the film looks exceptionally worthwhile--I stumbled upon it while searching for more Cyd Charisse material and the below number is, quite simply, one of the most sizzling dance acts you will find in the American Musical canon. Charisse and her partner--who is this guy? he's not identified in the IMDB cast list--dance an extraordinarily risque routine to a wonderful recording of "Frankie And Johnny" as sung by--Sammy Davis Jr! (The number updates the old lyrics with new, hepcat lyrics which are quite funny).


Making things even more mysterious is the fact that the director of "Meet Me In Las Vegas" , Roy Rowland, was nominated for a Directors Guild of America award for his direction of this invisible movie. What the hell? Rowland was a strictly routine MGM functionary who started out in the shorts department in the thirties directing Robert Benchley shorts (as well as a number of the somewhat interesting "Crime Does Not Pay" series which turn up, with some regularity, on TCM) before spending the bulk of his MGM career grinding out the mid-level sausage that made up the bulk of Metro's annual output--titles like "Affair With A Stranger," "Killer McCoy," "Our Vines Have Tender Grapes" and a Margaret O'Brien vehicle that I actually caught some of recently on TCM, "Tenth Avenue Angel." "AND THE WINNER FOR BEST DIRECTOR OF 1956 IS...(pause, rip)...ROY ROWLAND FOR 'MEET ME IN LAS VEGAS". Was this ever a true possibility?


Even the title--with it's distant echo of the glory years--seems...a little hinky...almost as if it were a temporary title during the production period but which, out of the general boredom and inertia that pervaded at MGM during the period, was simply let to stand. The same studio that made "Meet Me In St. Louis" made "Meet Me In Las Vegas?" Were they planning a "Singin' In The Snow"? Perhaps "Gone With The Breeze"? "Meet Me In Las Vegas"???


Nonetheless, I'm pursuing a copy of the film because, as you'll see from the below clip, there is at least one bang up number (and some of the on-line reviews of the film are quite positive). And even if the below number is all the film has to offer, I'm more than a little interested to see Cyd and her action on my fifty-inch screen instead of on youtube...



3 comments:

  1. I've seen this and once upon a time I even had a lousy video copy of it. TCM shows it from time to time. It's sweet and watchable with some pretty good numbers. That one's the best, as I remember. But there are also memorable bits where Cyd, playing a snobbish ballerina forced to play Vegas, joins a bump-and-grind lineup, and another where she's dancing Swan Lake (and showing that ballet was her background, but not her strong suit).

    Isn't it kind of great, though, when you come across a movie you've never even heard of? it doesn't happen very often. In her autobiography Louise Brooks admits to never having heard of The Wind until years after its release, so it happens to even the savviest.

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  2. Her partner is John Brascia (who can also be seen on YouTube with Vera-Ellen), primarily known for his 1950s nightclub act with Tybee Afra.

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  3. Thank you Miriam. Will have to look into Mr. Brascia's
    story...

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