June 2002 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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Cole PORTER Silk Stockings  
  RHINO R274368   [79:00]

Silk Stockings

Silk Stockings (1955) was one of the last great MGM musicals. Produced by Arthur Freed and directed by Rouben Mamoulian, the film was Cole Porter’s musical version of the MGM classic film, Ninotchka that starred Greta Garbo. Silk Stockings starred Fred Astaire and the gorgeous ballerina Cyd Charisse. Cyd recalled that this was her favourite role and indeed she turned in a very creditable comic/dramatic performance as Ninotchka, the Communist official on a cultural visit to Paris where Astaire persuades her to thaw out, enjoy the good life and succumb to romance. Her trio of comic Russian colleagues (Peter Lorre (wonderfully droll), Jules Munshin and Joseph Buloff) contributed immensely to the success of the film, particularly their wickedly funny songs: ‘Too Bad (we can’t go back to Moscow)’, and ‘Siberia’. Rounding out the cast was Janis Paige who plays Janice Dayton, the actress Astaire, as Hollywood film producer Steve Canfield, brings to Paris for location filming. Their rendition of Porter’s witty take-off of the film industry’s obsession with "…glorious Technicolor, breathtaking CinemaScope and ‘Stereophonic Sound,’ is another jewel.

But the number that everybody remembers is ‘All of you’ one of the most erotic/romantic songs Porter ever wrote. Fred delivers it perfectly balancing sex and tenderness – "I love the looks of you, the lure of you…the east, west, north and the south of you. So love at least a small percentage of me do, for I love all of you."

Also memorable is the title track dancing performed by the MGM Studio Orchestra accompanying Cyd’s dance as the allure of silk stockings melts her resolve. Cyd’s singing voice was voiced by Carole Richards, but one of the bonus tracks on this album is an unused demo, the wry ‘It’s a chemical reaction that’s all’ sung very acceptably by Cyd as she scoffs at the thought of love. She is accompanied by André Previn on the piano.

This fine album, brimming with sparkling comic and romantic melodies, contains no less than eighteen previously unreleased tracks. It is also released for the first time in stereo.

Strongly recommended.

Ian Lace


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