Invitation to the Dance

Film Review by Dean Duncan Jun 9, 2015

Alfred Junge’s design contributions are as textured, as terrific as you might expect. More front and centre, Kelly’s direction (blocking and pacing, as well as the really nice compositions and camera moves) and choreography are also pretty, or partly tremendous. The film is good in pieces but somehow the whole doesn’t come off at all. The first episode’s artificial, theatrical setting serves it well. It looks great. But for me Kelly’s sad clown kinda sinks it, practically infecting the whole with a sentimentality that is unto self-pity. The second part, though really derivative of Schnitzler, or Duvivier, or something, is actually quite successful. We follow the descendent of the ten mark note into some superb settings and striking situations. This mixture of European sophistication and sorrow with American morality—the spouses fairly uncomplicatedly reunite at the end—about sums up the problem with the whole film. Who wants it? It falls betwixt, and then it falls between. But this episode, with all of its bold stylizations, is really quite good.

The last part though, this sort-of Sinbad the Sailor, is really terrible. Visual felicities attend the live action prologue, but then come the colonial oblviousnesses. Or worse, then comes the awful cartoon! It is kind of cool how that dragon’s coils turn into female leg-like things, but when that girl shows up it’s reminiscent of nothing so much as the animated part of Xanadu. Maybe Gene Kelly deserved that one a little, after all.