Invitation to the Dance

Gene Kelly brings his remarkable talents as star, director and choreographer to this glittering gala of music, dance and pantomime - and the result is a lush, one-of-a-kind musical flight of fancy.


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Invitation to the Dance (MGM)
 
4.0

(based on 5 reviews)

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    (5)

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100%

of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

Pros

    Cons

      Best Uses

      • Adult viewers (3)
      • At home (3)
        • Reviewer Profile:
        • Movie buff (5)

      Reviewed by 5 customers

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      4.0

      Very underrated!!

      By Nic Orizaga

      from Shafter, CA

      About Me Movie Buff

      Verified Reviewer

      Pros

      • Excellent Performance
      • Full Of Energy
      • Great Visuals
      • Unique Idea

      Cons

      • Limited Appeal

      Best Uses

      • Adult Viewers
      • At Home

      Comments about Invitation to the Dance (MGM):

      Wow! What can I say? I bought this movie because of the animated segment from MGM's cartoon unit (William Hanna & Joseph Barbera). That segment didn't let me down one bit. What surprised me most was the frenetic pace of the second segment with sped up shots and repeated sequences...almost like a very scary nightmare. I also enjoyed the "Circus" segment (especially the dancing clowns) but in order not to spoil the ending, I won't mention what disappointed me; I'll just say it was very unrealistic and distracted from the emotion it was meant to convey. The only bad thing I can say is that the movie tends to drag when Gene Kelly is not on screen, which happens in extended scenes. Once he's back, so was my full attention!

      (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

       
      4.0

      Creative dance experiment!

      By Jonhayashi1

      from NewYork, Long Island

      About Me Movie Buff

      Verified Reviewer

      Pros

      • Creative choreography
      • Excellent Performance
      • Full Of Energy
      • Fun hand drawn animation
      • Good 2nd story
      • Great fun 3rd story
      • Great Visuals
      • Quality Sound
      • Unique Idea
      • Vintage Gene Kelly

      Cons

      • Fair 1st story
      • Limited Appeal
      • No scene selection
      • Should be restored

      Best Uses

      • Adult Viewers
      • Animation Fans
      • At Home
      • For dance ballet fans
      • Gene Kelly fans

      Comments about Invitation to the Dance (MGM):

      I am glad that so far the Warner Archive dvds have good quality prints but It would be better if this movie had been restored, remastered to mint condition, especially the Sinbad the Sailor 3rd story in this Gene Kelly Pantomine dance movie! I've seen clips of this movie remastered for "Gene Kelly, Anatomy of a Dancer" and they look gorgeous!! But at least this film print has good technicolor and clear vibrant sound on my stereo speakers. Kelly's original intent was to showcase foreign dance talent unknown to american audiences and the first 2 dance halfhour stories star Tamara Toumanova, and Igor Youskevitch, 2 russian ballet dancers. Circus, the 1st story has Kelly as a sad mime clown longing to be with the pretty dancer(Toumanova) but she is in love with the tightrope walker(Youskevitch) There is amusing pantomime and dancing in the 1st half of this half hour story but it starts to flatten out in the sad 2nd half. Ring Around the Rosy works better and is both interesting and amusing in it's tale about characters falling in love and then breaking up with one partner joining another as a gold bracelett symbolising their relationship is passed from one to the other! This seaquence has backround styling that reminds me of the ballet climax of "an American in Paris"! Both russian dancers from Circus are better used here as an artist and his ballet dancer model. Finally there is the last half hour story "Sinbad the Sailor"! This one is the most fun and the main reason I purchased this dvd! I had seen clips of it many years before and I am NOT dissapointed! Gene Kelly is Sinbad the Sailor in modern navy sailor uniform and he meets a boy genie in this delightful fantasy! Both of them were dressed as sailors and they then entered an arabian nights storybook! We can then see a delightful combination of live action and animation from MGM's Hanna and Barbera that included a belly dancing giant female snake, 2 comic dancing palace guards, sexy harem girls and a lovely arabian princess! Being an adult animater I watched this half hour many times and the Sinbad story could be sold separately as a half hour special! Maybe Warner Archive could have "Sinbad the Sailor" remastered and put it together with another Hanna Barbera Gene Kelly halfhour "Jack and the Beanstalk" which again combined animation with live action! Just a suggestion! I also think of the Hanna Barbera Alex Toth "SHAZZAN" animated series with the genie! I hope it comes out soon in the archive! There is an interesting combination of U.P.A. style and Oriental style to the painted backrounds! Rimsky Korsakov's Scherizade music with occasional jazz variations by the MGM ochestra is an added plus!This is not a crowd pleaser like other Gene Kelly films. Which is why I selected "limited appeal" in the cons list. If you are interested in dance pantomime music films and you respect and admire Kelly's experiments in dance and story then I say give this one a try! Gene Kelly was a very creative filmaker an dancer so I am glad to have this movie to go with other Gene Kelly musicals! I should point out that this dvd is a DVD-R(MOD) which works just fine in my DVD-RAM/-R recorder. So if your recorder/player is able to record and/or play back DVD-R it should be able to play back all Warner Archive dvds!

      (4 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

       
      4.0

      A Bold Experiment

      By Andy CF

      from Brockton, MA

      About Me Movie Buff

      Verified Reviewer

      Pros

      • Entertaining
      • First rate score
      • Great choreography
      • Great Cinematography
      • High Production Value
      • Salinger arrangements
      • Superb dancing
      • Unique concept

      Cons

      • Hamped by low budget

      Best Uses

      • All Ballet Films
      • Films of Gene Kelly
      • Freed Unit Releases
      • Historical Perspective

      Comments about Invitation to the Dance (MGM):

      This release print is satisfactory, though some white spots are evident. Certainly, the color could be brightened (evident especially in the animation sequence) and the soundtrack should be remastered. This may have been the riskiest release from the Freed Unit; three ballets, no dialogue. It sat on the shelf for three years, since MGM had no idea how to market it. It was a matter of faith and a trust in the talents of Gene Kelly as director and choreographer. The scores by Ibert and Andre Previn are first rate, as is the arrangement of Sheherazade by Conrad Salinger. The latter sequence is a much more successful and witty incorporation of animation (Hanna-Barbera) and live-action than in "Anchors Away." If you hate ballet, you may actually like this film.

      (3 of 3 customers found this review helpful)

       
      4.0

      One of a kind ...

      By James

      from Winston-Salem, NC

      About Me Movie Buff

      Pros

      • Original

      Cons

        Best Uses

        • Adult Viewers
        • At Home

        Comments about Invitation to the Dance (MGM):

        Based on the success of "An American in Paris," and partly to placate one of its leading stars, MGM allowed Gene Kelly to do an all-dance film in 1952. He was forced to make the film in England (for the tax credits and where Kelly had sought a tax haven) and MGM insisted Kelly be in each of the sequences, even though he originally had planned to showcase only other dance greats. The studio brass scrapped one sequence entirely and re-edited and tossed the score of another, substituting a new jazz score by young Andre Previn. Then, unhappy with the final result, they put the film on the shelf, where it sat for years before it was given a short release in a few art theaters. Kelly's dreams were dashed and his MGM star soon dimmed. The film was largely forgotten but remembered fondly by film buffs. The opening circus sequence, to a commissioned score by Jacques Ibert, is the weakest - more pantomime than dance. But there is much to enjoy in the second two - including Kelly's steamy duet with Tamara Toumanova, once one of the Diaghilev's "baby ballerinas" - and the lively dancing and animation in "Scherazade" (featuring a very young Carol Haney) and Hanna-Barbera cartooning. It's a one of a kind film and it's sad, given its limited appeal, it's likely never to be properfly restored. A few clips in remastered Blu-Ray appear on BR disc of "American in Paris" giving a glimpse of what might have been.

        (6 of 6 customers found this review helpful)

         
        4.0

        Two Near-Misses and a Hit

        By Bill

        from Lakewood, CO

        About Me Movie Buff

        Verified Reviewer

        Pros

        • The Sinbad Story
        • Unique

        Cons

        • Print Quality
        • Uneven

        Best Uses

        • Home Theater

        Comments about Invitation to the Dance (MGM):

        First of all, I would like thank the Warner Archive for finally releasing this "lost" Gene Kelly musical. Previously, portions of this film were included in "That's Entertainment, Part 2", "That's Dancing" and in a Gene Kelly laserdisc box set, but this is the first release of the entire movie on disc. It is perhaps no coincidence that this film was released at the same time as two early sound features, because there is a definite resemblance.

        This is a difficult film to review. There are three stories, and the first two stories don't quite work, while the third story is wonderful. Furthermore, the film isn't wall-to-wall dancing, as you might expect; rather it is a combination of pantomime and dancing set to music and sound effects (which is why it resembles the early sound movies).

        CIRCUS is a classic "sad clown" story in which the clown (Kelly) happily entertains his audience, while secretly obsessing over the star ballerina whom he can never have because she loves the tightrope walker. The first half of the story, when the circus troupe performs in the town square, is full of excitement and fun (it may remind you of scenes from "The Pirate"). This is followed by a beautiful pas de deux between the two lovers. But then, as the story descends into darkness and tragedy, it really bottoms out.

        RING AROUND THE ROSY is intended as a spoof of modern relationships and features a mix of music and dance styles. There are twelve characters, but the story seems to have been heavily edited, because only five of them get any decent screen time. The three best dance numbers include a pas de deux between an artist and his model, an acrobatic tap dance by Tommy Rall (Frankincense from "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers") and a modern dance with Kelly as a Marine and Tamara Toumanova as a streetwalker. The rest of the story is less impressive.

        The highlight of the film (and the reason for having it in your collection) is SINBAD THE SAILOR, a modern retelling of the ancient fable. Kelly is an American sailor on shore leave who finds a magic lamp, brings out the boy genie inside, and the two of them have a series of adventures in the cartoon world of Hanna and Barbera. During production, Kelly called it the "Children's Ballet", but this one is for kids of all ages. This is Gene Kelly at his best---performing with a child and trying out new cinematic ideas. The integration of live action and animation is remarkable for its day, especially when Gene encounters two dance-happy palace guards. This is thirty minutes of pure delight.

        Given the turbulent history of this film, it's a wonder that it turned out as well as it did. There was actually a fourth segment that was partially filmed and then discarded. The film was two years in production and post-production, and then it sat on MGM's shelf for another two years. When it was finally released, MGM was making its musicals in CinemaScope and stereo sound, so this movie looked like a step backward. It didn't help that MGM used two different ad campaigns for the film. See the alternate poster that I've (hopefully) attached and compare it with the poster art on the DVD cover. An article at the TCM website describes some of the history of the film, but even more can be found in Hugh Fordin's book, "M-G-M's Greatest Musicals" (aka "The World of Entertainment!"). You do have a copy of this superb book, don't you?

        The image quality of this release is less than ideal, but it is probably the best we can hope for. The image is fairly clean and colorful, but noticeably soft. The softness is due at least in part to the mis-alignment of the Technicolor elements throughout most of the film. Only a full restoration could bring back the sharpness, but that seems unlikely, given the film's low-ranking status. At least it looks better than the excerpts that have shown up on YouTube in recent years. There are 31 oddly-placed chapter markers, but you only need to know the three at the beginnings of the three stories: 3 for "Circus", 11 for "Ring Around the Rosy" and 21 for "Sinbad the Sailor". On my copy, Chapter 21 will get the most use.

        Displaying reviews 1-5

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