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Kiss Me Kate

4.6 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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(Feb 08, 2011)
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Editorial Reviews

Patricia Morison, Alfred Drake, Julie Wilson. Five years after the big screen affair with Kathryn Grayson and Howard Keel comes this wonderful TV production of the original stage play complete with Cole Porter's outstanding score. Loosely based on Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew . 1958/b&w/78 min/NR/fullscreen.

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Alfred Drake, Patricia Morison, Bill Hayes, Julie Wilson, Jack Klugman
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Video Artists Int'l
  • DVD Release Date: February 8, 2011
  • Run Time: 78 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B004H83IKU
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #84,478 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By DEWEY M. VINE VOICE on February 16, 2011
Verified Purchase
A Broadway gem is discovered with this 1958 "Hallmark Hall Of Fame" TV adaptation of Cole Porter's "Kiss Me, Kate." In the Golden Age of television, it was fairly common for Broadway shows to receive TV adaptations.
These included Ethel Merman in "Anything Goes" (1954), Mary Martin in "Peter Pan" (1955, 1956, and 1960) and Julie Andrews in "Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Cinderella" (1957). "Cinderella" was actually an original musical for television that subsequently enjoyed a healthy life on stage.
This Black and White (kinescope) "Kiss Me, Kate" has the distinct advantage of Alfred Drake and Patricia Morrison re-creating their original Broadway roles from a decade earlier. Drake and Morrison are superb as tempermental Fred Graham and Lili Vanessi, feuding former spouses who reunite for a musical version of Shakespeare's "Taming Of The Shrew" on the first anniversary of their divorce. Fred and Lili's backstage brawling humorously mirrors the plot of "Shrew", which is occuring simultaneously on stage.
Alfred Drake lost his starring Broadway roles in "Kiss Me, Kate" and "Kismet" to Howard Keel when these musicals were made into movies. The charismatic Drake leaves no doubt that he is the definite Fred/Petruchio in "Kate." Julie Wilson, from the original London Cast, replaces Lisa Kirk here as lusty Lois. Harvey Lembeck and Jack Klugman almost steal the show as two gangters who get involved in the plot, both backstage and on stage, when Lois' gambling boyfriend Bill (the handsome Bill Hayes) signs Fred's name to an IOU. A few months after this broadcast, Jack Klugman orginated the role of Herbie opposite Ethel Merman as Rose in the original 1959 production of the Broadway classic "Gypsy."
The 78 minute running time does result in an abbreviated plot and score.
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Kiss Me Kate may be the perfect Broadway musical. The show opened the night before New Years Eve in 1948, and ran at the New Century Theatre for 1,077 performances, garnering Tonys for Best Musical, Book and Score. The 1953 film may not please everyone, with the chilly Kathryn Grayson and a wooden Howard Keel, but who could fault the whiz bang tapping and bubbly over-the-top tapping of Ann Miller? Originally shot in 3D, parts of the film (especially Annie's performance), are literally thrown at the audience. The "Too Darn Hot" number introduced the world to the genius known as Bob Fosse, not to mention the terpsichorean splendor of the lesser-known Carol Haney, Bobby Van and Tommy Rall.
A production of Kate done in front of a live audience in London was released by Image Entertainment in 2003, starring the studly Brent Barrett and the incredibly talented Rachel York. Perhaps a little forced, as taped stage productions tend to be, the real pleasure here is the complete score, played and performed to near perfection. This truly was Cole Porter's masterpiece, recreated here in all its glory.
However, we now have a black-and-white version of the 1958 Hallmark Hall of Fame production, the first Hallmark produced that was taped rather than done live. Released by the ambitious Video Artists International, the results for musical comedy fans are absolutely stupendous. We have Alfred Drake and Patricia Morison recreating their Broadway triumph, and triumphal it is indeed. Drake's pathos and subtlety in the great love ballad "Were Thine That Special Face" is easily matched by the bombast and exuberance of Morison banging away with "I Hate Men;" every nuance and meaning of every lyric is clearly, movingly, and expertly delivered.
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This is the most recent dvd presentation of Cole Porter's biggest hit, Kiss Me, Kate. It is a black and white kinescope of a Hallmark Hall of Fame television production featuring the original Broadway leads, Patricia Morison and Alfred Drake. Its presentation in 1958 is sandwiched between the 1953 movie (with Kathryn Grayson and Howard Keel) and the 2003 PBS special (with Rachel York and Brent Barrett).

Each of the productions has its unique strengths, and they all do justice (in their own fashion) to the brilliant music of Cole Porter. But this version will not be to everyone's liking, principally because its video (and to a much lesser extent, its audio) quality leaves a lot to be desired. Contrast is rendered in shades of gray on gray; the kinescope process does not eliminate soft flickering lines that scroll sporadically up the screen, and focus is somewhat uneven. In my first viewing, it took me a good 20 minutes to get over my pique at the mediocre video quality, but the show was too good to let me keep pouting for long. In addition to the great music, the leads, Patricia Morison and Alfred Drake, are fabulous. She is absolutely beautiful, and her intelligence and artistry as an actress, along with her charisma place her--easily--in the top spot of the three dvd characterizations of Kate. Her stage presence shines in so many small ways; in the antechamber of the honeymoon bedroom scene, for example, she "plays" her lustrous long dark hair (she doesn't wear a wig) to brilliant comic effect, and when she smiles, no one's worried about the picture's grayness. Alfred Drake is no slouch either, and his rich baritone, along with his comedic skill, give him an edge over Howard Keel, or the macho crotch-grabbing Brent Barrett.
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