believe over the years is some sort of subversive studio classic, a
la SOME CAME RUNNING, for example, in that both are films with a fair
amount of bitterness and cynicism, which would mean, in theory, that
they'd aged fairly well to appeal to the modern smart-ass, which is
what makes SOME CAME RUNNING, bar nothing, my favorite melodrama. They aren't that far apart in lineage, being both directed by musical masters, RUNNING by Gene Kelly-collaborator Vincente Minnelli (on AN AMERICAN IN PARIS, among others), and FAIR WEATHER by Kelly and Stanley Donen, in their third and final collaboration after ON THE TOWN and SINGIN' IN THE RAIN.
But FAIR WEATHER is fairly schizoid, despite a fairly straightforward story. 3 war buddies come home from the war and resolve, before parting, to meet at the same bar 10 years from then. A montage sequence having passed, it's 1955, and the three friends, though they reunite, have nothing in common at all. The bitterness continues as their three paths intersect over the course of the day of the failed reunion. It's a big enough film to include Gene Kelly dreamily roller-skating while offering in disturbing proximity Dan Dailey getting drunk and telling everybody
off, a scene which, with its accidental rhyme-scheme, appeared to me,
overly eager that I am to make connections, to be a direct influence
on that part of BULWORTH where the good senator scans through his
speech: "What do we do? It's up to you, what do we do," etc. What am I to do with such a mixture of sentiment and pissiness?
Despite the incongruous elements surrounding the whole thing, the
overall impression I got was rather despairing: these three dudes
come back to civilian territory, united by violence and alcohol, then
come back, have nothing in common, then do some more fighting and
drink some more, and they're all buddies again. It would seem to me
then that the ending isn't optimistic at all, just more false hope.
Parts of the film can be fairly standard and slightly tedious in that formal MGM musical manner, especially the many non-essential songs (some of which, however, nicely mock the idealistic sentiments of the beginning of the film), which, under the lyrical pen of Andre Previn, are not quite up to snuff: I'm not still sure what a guy with the combined personalities of Clifton Webb and Marlon Brando would be like, but I'm pretty sure it wouldn't be as romantic as it's supposed to sound. Due to its widescreen compositions, especially the triple split-screen moments, FAIR WEATHER must be seen letterboxed to make any sense at all. Terrifically uneven in its bile/sentiment ratio, it's still one of the most bizarre formal studio-musicals of the 50s. Worth a look for its brilliant moments.
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