Kiss Them For Me

Kiss Them For Me (1957)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Cast: Cary Grant, Suzy Parker, Jayne Mansfield, Ray Walston, Larry Blyden
Extras: Still Gallery, Theatrical Trailers

"Kiss Them For Me, " Stanley Donen’s 1957 film version based on a Broadway play, stars Cary Grant, Ray Walston and Larry Blyden as Navy fliers on shore leave in WWII San Francisco. "Kiss" covers the same narrative territory as Stanley Donen’s earlier musical "On The Town," this time stretched to Cinemascope dimensions and sans the Leonard Bernstein songs or Gene Kelly choreography.

After seeing a bellyful of combat, pilots McCann (Ray Walston), "Missip" (Blyden) and Cmdr. Andy Crewson (Grant) finagle a four-day pass to the City by the Bay for a non-stop bacchanal of wine, women and, uh, more women ‘n wine. With an exasperated Navy PR flak Lt. Wallace (a pre-Colonel Klink Werner Klemperer) in tow, the trio keeps just one step ahead of harm’s way, avoiding dimwitted MPs, frolicking with perpetual party girl Alice (Jayne Mansfield) and Crewson falling for a shipbuilding tycoon’s daughter (Suzy Parker).

Despite high powered talent like Donen, screenwriter Julius Epstein (he co-wrote "Casablanca") and the more than stellar cast, "Kiss" smacks of wanting its comedy cake and crying over it, too. Echoing the service comedies of the 1940s, we are supposed to laugh at the pilots’ wacky antics of chasing dames with a martini always in hand. Then, when things get too jovial, Crewson morosely delivers another anecdote about the horrors of war. Perhaps owing to its stage origins, much of the dialogue comes at the viewer at breakneck speed, ultimately coming off as affectation for its own sake (as compared to, say, James Cagney’s performance in Billy Wilder’s "One, Two, Three"). Still, I enjoy any chance to watch Jayne Mansfield and her scenes with Ray Walston, along with "Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?" demonstrate her more than ample comedic timing. (No "ample" jokes please.)

Technically speaking, the studio certainly respects "Kiss." The 2.35 <$16x9,anamorphic> transfer exhibits solid, saturated colors and deep blacks. Sourced from a very clean print, the image is always sharp (even capturing the hue shifts on the dissolves) and detailed. The <$DD,Dolby Digital> stereo track decodes as matrix surround, but other than light fill in the surrounds during music cues, the audio basically remains anchored in the center. Dynamic range is a little wanting, with some instances of distortion and cranking the volume necessary at other times.

Theatrical trailers constitute the bulk of the extras. Two trailers for "Kiss" are offered, the "teaser" in 2.35 <$16x9,anamorphic> and the "theatrical" in 1.78 <$16x9,anamorphic>. Trailers from other Cary Grant/Fox DVDs– "I Was A Male War Bride," "People Will Talk" and "Monkey Shines" — are also included, presented in full-frame. Nothing spectacular here or in the thirty four photos, mostly publicity shots, offered in the still-step gallery.

A piffle on the resumes of all involved, "Kiss Them For Me" benefits from a strong DVD presentation. Other than Jayne Mansfield, I’m hard pressed to find even a single reason to recommend it.

P.S. While we’re on the subject of Stanley Donen and Jayne Mansfield…
Fox Home Video: when will you release on DVD the original "Bedazzled" directed by Donen and "Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?" starring Mansfield?