Lovely to Look At (1952): LeRoy’s Romantic Musical Comedy, Starring Red Skelton, Howard Keele,

From the Vaults:

Mervyn LeRoy directed, Lovely to Look At, a romantic musical comedy, based on the 1933 Broadway musical and the movie Roberta.

 Look At
Lovely to look at --- film poster.jpg

Theatrical release poster

Broadway producers Al Marsh, Tony Naylor, and Jerry Ralby are desperately searching for investors to back their show.

After being denied for pitches, Al receives a letter from Paris, notifying him that his Aunt Roberta has died and left him half of her dress salon.

The three men and their “lady-friend” Bubbles, who funds their lengthy trip, then travel to Paris. To their dismay, they find a bankrupt shop.

Enter the two other women who own the other half of the dress shop, Stephanie and Clarisse.

The film then pursues two subplots: getting the shop into better shape to gain money, and the love story lines.

Tony is torn between his growing affection for Stephanie and his desire to finance his show. Meanwhile, Jerry falls for Clarisse, and Al has a crush on Stephanie.

Eventually, Al goes for Bubbles, who has followed the men from New York City.

In the end, Roberta’s dress shop legacy lives on.

The film was originally slated as vehicle for Gene Kelly and Sinatra, who had teamed together before, with Judy Garland and Betty Garrett as co-stars.

Aside from keeping the musical score and retaining the idea of a dress shop being inherited by someone, there is no resemblance to the show or 1935 film.

The finale, a fashion show, was directed by Vincente Minnelli, with costumes by Adrian, who designed more than 40 costumes for the film, at a cost of $100,000.

Despite Jerome Kern’s glorious music, the movie’s direction was pedestrian. As a result, Lovely to Look At was not particularly popular at the box-office, earning $2,571,000 in the US and $1,203,000 elsewhere, resulting in a loss of $735,000.

Credits:

Directed by Mervyn LeRoy
Screenplay by George Wells, Harry Ruby, based on Roberta by Jerome Kern Otto Harbach
Produced by Jack Cummings
Cinematography George J. Folsey
Edited by John McSweeney Jr.
Music by Carmen Dragon, Saul Chaplin

Distributed by MGM

Release date: July 4, 1952 (US)

Running time: 103 minutes
Budget $2.8 million
Box office $3.8 million

Songs

The music was written by Jerome Kern.

“Smoke Gets in Your Eyes,” sung by Kathryn Grayson, and later danced to by Marge and Gower Champion; lyrics by Otto A. Harbach and Dorothy Fields.
“Lovely to Look At”, sung by Kathryn Grayson and Howard Keel; lyrics by Dorothy Fields. The song was nominated for an Academy Award when it was first used in the 1935 version of Roberta.[8]
“The Touch of Your Hand”, sung by Kathryn Grayson; lyrics by Otto A. Harbach.
“I Won’t Dance”, sung and danced to by Marge and Gower Champion; lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II and Dorothy Fields.
“Yesterdays”, sung by Kathryn Grayson; lyrics by Harbach.
“You’re Devastating”, sung by Howard Keel and Kathryn Grayson; lyrics by Harbach.
“I’ll Be Hard to Handle”, sung and danced to by Ann Miller and Men’s Chorus; Lyrics by Bernard Dougall.
“Lafayette”, performed by Howard Keel, Red Skelton and Gower Champion.

Cast

Kathryn Grayson as Stephanie
Red Skelton as Al Marsh
Howard Keel as Tony Naylor
Marge Champion as Clarisse
Gower Champion as Jerry Ralby
Ann Miller as Bubbles Cassidy
Zsa Zsa Gabor as Zsa Zsa
Kurt Kasznar as Max Fogelsby
Marcel Dalio as Pierre
Diane Cassidy as Diane