Invitation to the Dance (1956)

93 mins | Fantasy, Performance | 15 May 1956

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HISTORY

Invitation to the Dance consists of three dance sequences without dialogue which each tell a distinct story. The opening credits list most production credits for the entire film; however, before the beginning of each story, music and cast credits specific to that sequence are listed. In addition, at the beginning of “Ring Around the Rosy,” all of the cast for that sequence dance in a circle and are then shown individually onscreen with their cast names. The first story of the film, “Circus,” opens with character “Scheherazade” sitting cross-legged holding a lamp and a book and pantomiming the introduction to the story. This is followed by a semi-classical ballet also using some pantomimic technique. “Ring Around the Rosy” uses modern dance and theatrical gesturing to tell the story. Animation is used throughout “Sinbad, the Sailor,” particularly when the live action characters of “Sinbad” and the “Genie” dance within frames of a cartoon for their scenes inside the illustrated book.
       According to an 11 Jun 1956 Time article, director Gene Kelly had the idea for the all-dance feature for many years before convincing M-G-M to produce the film in 1952. A 3 Sep 1952 Var article states that M-G-M contracted with the estate of the late Arthur Schnitzler to purchase the rights to story of the 1950 French film La Ronde as the basis for the sequence “Ring Around the Rosy.” According to a 21 Oct 1953 Var article, after five months of shooting most of the film at the M-G-M’s studios outside London, the production returned to the M-G-M Culver City lot for final shooting on the “Sinbad” sequence ... More Less

Invitation to the Dance consists of three dance sequences without dialogue which each tell a distinct story. The opening credits list most production credits for the entire film; however, before the beginning of each story, music and cast credits specific to that sequence are listed. In addition, at the beginning of “Ring Around the Rosy,” all of the cast for that sequence dance in a circle and are then shown individually onscreen with their cast names. The first story of the film, “Circus,” opens with character “Scheherazade” sitting cross-legged holding a lamp and a book and pantomiming the introduction to the story. This is followed by a semi-classical ballet also using some pantomimic technique. “Ring Around the Rosy” uses modern dance and theatrical gesturing to tell the story. Animation is used throughout “Sinbad, the Sailor,” particularly when the live action characters of “Sinbad” and the “Genie” dance within frames of a cartoon for their scenes inside the illustrated book.
       According to an 11 Jun 1956 Time article, director Gene Kelly had the idea for the all-dance feature for many years before convincing M-G-M to produce the film in 1952. A 3 Sep 1952 Var article states that M-G-M contracted with the estate of the late Arthur Schnitzler to purchase the rights to story of the 1950 French film La Ronde as the basis for the sequence “Ring Around the Rosy.” According to a 21 Oct 1953 Var article, after five months of shooting most of the film at the M-G-M’s studios outside London, the production returned to the M-G-M Culver City lot for final shooting on the “Sinbad” sequence in Feb 1953. A 17 Mar 1954 Var article states that M-G-M announced its plan to complete the cartoon sequence by 15 Jun 1954. Although 1952 HR news items add The Liazeeds, George Carden, Jan Wilson and dancers Tommy Ralls, Paddy Stone and Beryl Kaye to the cast, their appearance in the film has not been confirmed.
       As stated in a 14 Sep 1952 NYT article, the film marked the first time that Kelly had the sole directing credit for a film. Although Invitation to the Dance received the award for Best Picture at the Berlin Film Festival and was lauded in several reviews for its inventive use of dance, it was not a successful feature for M-G-M, which, according to the HR review, delayed the film’s release for several years, possibly out of skepticism about its critical reception. A Jun 1956 Dance Magazine article criticized Kelly for using predictable dance solutions for the film’s choreography, but credited him with having the courage to make the “first all-dance feature.” More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
19 May 1956.
---
Daily Variety
15 May 1956
p. 3.
Dance Magazine
Jun 1956.
---
Film Daily
15 May 1956
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Aug 1952
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Sep 1952
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Sep 1952
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Nov 1952
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Dec 1952
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Jan 1953
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
15 May 1956
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Jul 1956
p. 1.
Los Angeles Examiner
6 Apr 1957.
---
Los Angeles Times
22 Mar 1953.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
19 May 1956
p. 897.
New York Times
14 Sep 1952.
---
New York Times
23 May 1956
p. 35.
Newsweek
11 Jun 1956.
---
Time
11 Jun 1956.
---
Variety
3 Sep 1952.
---
Variety
21 Oct 1953.
---
Variety
17 Mar 1954.
---
Variety
16 May 1956
p. 18.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog "Circus" and "Ring Around the Rosy"
Dir of photog "Sinbad the Sailor"
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir "Circus" and "Ring Around the Rosy"
Art dir "Sinbad the Sailor"
Art dir "Sinbad the Sailor"
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Film ed
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Sets "Ring Around the Rosy" des by
COSTUMES
Cost "Circus" des and executed by
Cost "Ring Around the Rosy" des by
MUSIC
Mus coord
Mus "Circus"
Cond "Circus"
Mus played "Circus"
Mus comp and cond, "Ring Around the Rosy"
Mus for "Sinbad the Sailor" cond by
Mus for "Sinbad the Sailor" orch by
SOUND
Rec supv
VISUAL EFFECTS
Photog eff
Special cartoon eff
Cartoon seq
Cartoon seq
Cartoon seq
DANCE
Choreog
Asst to Mr. Kelly
Asst to Mr. Kelly
MAKEUP
Hairdressing
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col consultant
Col consultant
SOURCES
MUSIC
Music for "Sinbad the Sailor" based on music by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, adapted by Roger Edens.
DETAILS
Release Date:
15 May 1956
Production Date:
late August 1952--early February 1953 at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Boreham Wood, Elstree, England
Copyright Claimant:
Loew's Inc.
Copyright Date:
17 May 1956
Copyright Number:
LP6510
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Color
Technicolor
Widescreen/ratio
1:66:1
Duration(in mins):
93
Length(in feet):
8,336
Length(in reels):
6
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
17116
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In a lively Italian town square, the curtain opens on a road show circus where a sad clown watches as a young maiden swoons over a man courting her with the lute. Wishing to be her suitor as well, the clown disguises himself and plays the instrument for her, but her suitor soon unmasks the clown, to the delight of the audience. The clown feigns heartbreak, but when show closes, he is visibly distraught over the female dancer’s interest in the tightrope walker. Meanwhile, the performance continues on the stage with elaborate displays of acrobatics, juggling and balancing feats. When the curtain opens again, dancers pluck instruments from the clown’s costume, revealing rings of bells on the his wrists, ankles and hat, make a melody as he frolicks in dance. The audience soon turns to the tightrope walker, who performs dangerous somersaults and flips high above them. The clown watches as the female dancer gazes admiringly at the tightrope walker. At the close of the circus, the clown, stricken with jealousy, ruefully walks through the excited crowd. That night the clown watches as the tightrope walker, who is the dancer’s lover, and his beloved perform their intimate ballet, each joyously performing solos to entice each other’s passion. As the tightrope walker carries the beloved away, she leaves behind her red cape, which the clown uses gingerly to dance with as a partner. When the beloved returns and witnesses the clown’s folly, he cries in humiliation. She tries to comfort the clown, but the tightrope walker returns, misconstrues her pity and flies into a rage, accepting none of her explanations. Unable to comfort the distraught woman, the clown climbs the ... +


In a lively Italian town square, the curtain opens on a road show circus where a sad clown watches as a young maiden swoons over a man courting her with the lute. Wishing to be her suitor as well, the clown disguises himself and plays the instrument for her, but her suitor soon unmasks the clown, to the delight of the audience. The clown feigns heartbreak, but when show closes, he is visibly distraught over the female dancer’s interest in the tightrope walker. Meanwhile, the performance continues on the stage with elaborate displays of acrobatics, juggling and balancing feats. When the curtain opens again, dancers pluck instruments from the clown’s costume, revealing rings of bells on the his wrists, ankles and hat, make a melody as he frolicks in dance. The audience soon turns to the tightrope walker, who performs dangerous somersaults and flips high above them. The clown watches as the female dancer gazes admiringly at the tightrope walker. At the close of the circus, the clown, stricken with jealousy, ruefully walks through the excited crowd. That night the clown watches as the tightrope walker, who is the dancer’s lover, and his beloved perform their intimate ballet, each joyously performing solos to entice each other’s passion. As the tightrope walker carries the beloved away, she leaves behind her red cape, which the clown uses gingerly to dance with as a partner. When the beloved returns and witnesses the clown’s folly, he cries in humiliation. She tries to comfort the clown, but the tightrope walker returns, misconstrues her pity and flies into a rage, accepting none of her explanations. Unable to comfort the distraught woman, the clown climbs the ladder to the tightrope and inches his way across the wire. Frantic to save the clown, the beloved calls to the circus performers, who watch as the clown falls to the ground onto the red cape. Grabbing the hand of the tightrope walker, the clown releases the beloved into his care, clutches the cape and dies.
       At a lively party filled with guests gossiping, dancing and drinking, the hostess is flattering an artist, when her husband returns home. Despite being jealous, the husband presents his wife with an anniversary present, a beautiful bracelet, but then leaves her to delight in the artist’s attentions. At his studio, the artist is so enamored with his model that he hands her the same bracelet as a token of his affection. Sometime later at the backstage door, several suitors anxiously tap in anticipation of their dates’ arrival. Soon the model arrives wearing the bracelet. Her suitor, the sharpie, jealously eyes it and later that evening it is in his possession when he visits a femme fatale at a nightclub and presents the bracelet to her. On stage a crooner sings a ballad, causing an entire female audience to swoon at his feet except for the femme fatale, who calmly leads him off stage with her sexy swagger. Later, the crooner is playing a tune on the piano when the club’s hat check girl notices the bracelet on his wrist. After a jazzy dance duo ending in an embrace, she receives the token. Sometime later, she meets her lover, a Marine. Seeing the bracelet, the Marine assumes she has been unfaithful, yanks it from her wrist and leaves for a bar. Later the drunken Marine wanders through the streets where a girl on the stairs asks for a light and pulls the Marine into a sultry dance. After receiving the bracelet from the Marine, the girl walks past a hotel, where the hostess’ husband spots it on her wrist. The husband buys the bracelet from the girl and returns home, where his wife rushes to him, moved by his return.
       One afternoon, while ambling about a foreign marketplace, Sinbad the Sailor buys up trinkets including a lamp and a book. Later that night, he rubs the lamp in an attempt to shine it and a small boy genie rises from a cloud of smoke. At first Sinbad believes the apparition is a ruse and tries to sneak away; however, when the genie charms a cobra with his flute, Sinbad finally realizes his luck. He then rubs the lamp to request a matching sailor outfit for his young friend and the two playfully kick up their heels at their good fortune. Enticed by the book’s elaborate illustrations of a magical land, Sinbad rubs the lamp again. The two then shrink in size and climb into a page of hillsides covered in sparkling gems. When Sinbad picks up a large diamond, a ferocious dragon suddenly captures him with her tail. After the genie uses his flute to tame the creature, the dragon is transformed into a veiled seductress, who dances a duet with Sinbad. While trying to pick up another gem, Sinbad is confronted by two knife-wielding guards and taken to their leader, a sultan who orders Sinbad’s death; however, the genie uses his flute to charm the guards into dancing with Sinbad instead. Sinbad is soon smitten with one of the shyer maidens of the palace and whisks her away into a wind-swept meadow filled with swirling leaves and flowers. The couple leaps through the air, skates on lily pads, swings on vines and then falls asleep. Waking at the palace, Sinbad is surrounded by guards who throw dozens of knifes at the sailor’s feet, but Sinbad adeptly jumps from handle to handle, narrowly escaping their aim. The guards then join Sinbad in a tap dance, but are still unwilling to let him go. Sinbad quickens the tempo, spinning the guards so rapidly that they turn into bouncing balls that he kicks away. The genie and girl then return and the three dance off into the meadow.
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Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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