The first MGM musical with scenes shot on location, On the Town deploys the magic of New York City—from Rockefeller Center to the Empire State Building—as its setting. The film is full of energy and joy, depicting the adventures of three sailors (Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, and Jules Munshin) on leave for 24 hours in the city. The story revolves around Gabey’s (Kelly) search for a woman that he briefly glimpsed, but of course, fell in love with (the always energetic Vera-Ellen). While their ultimate romantic union is inevitable, like all Hollywood musicals, half the fun is in getting there. On the Town consists of both soft romantic dances (“Main Street”) and rousing, energetic numbers (“Prehistoric Man” and “On the Town”). The extended “A Day in New York” ballet sequence artistically blends a sensuous seriousness with a playful energy—and is an important dance in the Kelly canon. With an engaging and smart screenplay by Betty Comden and Adolph Green and music by Leonard Bernstein and Roger Edens, On the Town also stars Ann Miller and Betty Garret as the love interests of Munshin and Sinatra, respectively.
“From the moment the picture opens, in the actual Brooklyn Navy Yard, with the three sailors cutting off for New York, the whole thing precipitately moves, with song, dance, comedy and romance ingeniously interwoven and performed.”—Bosley Crowther, The New York Times
“The most cinematic of film musicals and the one most given to dance, On the Town is exhilarating, brash spectacle, “—Time Out