Monday, March 31, 2008

Tom, Dick or Harry?

one of the 25 greatest musical numbers of all time

Ann Miller isn't picky. In Kiss Me Kate (1953) she's a maid who wouldst marry and she'll take with no qualms any Tom, Dick or Harry... any Harry, Dick or Tom. (Not their real names... that'd be Hortensio, Lucentio and Gremio I think. Movies where actors are playing actors playing roles are so confusing)

If you're not picky, however can you decide?

Harry promises riches "and if thou wouldst attain the upper brackets... marry me." Dick is poor but "if for love unending thou arst pining... marry me" I'm not sure what Tom is promising --he's still "spraying his decaying family tree" er... -- I guess it's class "to give a social lift to thy position ... marry me"

Bianca (Miller) finally tips her hand before the dance break in the middle of the song...
Any Tom, Dick or Harry,
Any Tom, Harry or Dick.

Dick, dick, dick,
A dicka dick,
Dick, dick, dick,
A dicka dick,
Dick, dick, dick,
A dicka dick,
Dick, dick, dick,
A dicka dick!
The men sing with her! Just how interested are they in Bianca anyway? And then they launch into what has to be one of the most thrilling tap and clap numbers ever performed.

Still even after Bianca has chosen her man later in the movie (Dick) they're still quite a lovey-dovey quadrangle. It's probably the friendliest love quadrangle in all of the movies. I have to say: Ann probably made the right decision choosing Dick. In the "From This Moment On" sequence very late in the film, Harry reveals himself to be none other than...

Bob Fosse himself! Trying out his signature moves for the first time on film. Ann Miller chose well. She could've ended up a character in All That Jazz and Fosse didn't treat the ladies that well, don'cha know. [see previous All That Jazz review].

Tom, Dick or Harry? A question (and a musical number) for the ages.

Here's a couple videos to enjoy if you're in the mood. To your left, the "Tom, Dick or Harry" number from the movie. To your right, "Bianca" (it starts a little ways in) by Michael Berresse (Lucentio in the 2000 Broadway revival), who I met the other night (thus, this movie being on my mind) and who is one of my favorite stage performers. He's got a role in the new Russell Crowe movie so maybe we'll talk to him again soon for the podcast


Alison Flynn said...

The Bob Fosse part of that number is the best thing in the movie. And the woman dancing with him was Carol Haney, a talented actress who is the topic of much theater folklore, as her absence from The Pajama Game due to an injury allowed young Shirley McLaine to have her day in the sun, which of course launched her career. But I didn't need to tell you that. :)

SusanP said...

Excellent post, Nat. Will you be sharing other great musical moments?


maybe. though honestly ... when i post about old musicals so few people speak up that I wonder.

but yeah, i'd love to do a series.

Catherine said...

Do a series! I bet there'd be more people interested than you'd think

Neel Mehta said...

Quentin Tarantino can get inspired from anything.

Dick, dick, dick,
A dicka dick,
Dick, dick, dick,
A dicka dick,
Dick, dick, dick,
A dicka dick,
Dick, dick, dick,
A dicka dick!

"How many dicks is that?"
"A lot."

Anonymous said...

Bob Fosse and the other 2 dancers are:
- the wonderful Tommy Rall ("Frankincense" brother of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers) of the American Ballet Theatre, and
- the fabulous Bobby Van (I love his famous dance where he does only hops throughout the whole piece - but what hops!).

I read that Anne Miller holds the record for most taps per second. Love her also in "Easter Parade" ("too darn hot").

What a great, great bunch of dancers in a wonderful piece! (and you sure need them since the principals are singers and non-dancers. Oh, and parts of the story suck. Blame it on the source..that is, if you "brush up your Shakespeare" ...)

Dave said...

I don't have much of value to add here, but I wanted to voice my encouragement for musical posts, and to specifically say that I'd like to see the other 24 greatest musical numbers covered here. I might easily have forgotten this one on my own list, but it never fails to make me giggle.

thombeau said...


crazycris said...

do a series! do a series!

wake people up to some of the gems out there... where the singing and dancing aren't just to showcase an actor's talents (like all those frustrating "dream sequences" in Gene Kelly movies that drive me nuts!) but are integrated into the story! Case in point: "Meet Me In St Louis"!!! Or if there has to be extra dancing/singing... it's 'cause the characters are performers (i.e. "Easter Parade" or "Holiday Inn")
I could go on and on and on about musicals... I drive my family nits with them! :p

Anonymous said...

Thanks Nat- this reminds me why I miss musicals so much, and who cares if it has anything to do with the story or not? It's just such a pleasure to watch (and listen to, in this case. How did they manage to get away with that?)

And as much as I love MR, I understand all over again (watching this) why critics complained about Baz' ginsu-knife editing of the dance sequences.