Original poster for the picture
|Directed by||George Sidney|
|Produced by||Joe Pasternak|
|Written by||Natalie Marcin (story)|
|Music by||Jule Styne|
|Cinematography||Charles P. Boyle|
|Edited by||Adrienne Fazan|
|Distributed by||Loew's Inc.|
Anchors Aweigh is a 1945 American Technicolor musical comedy film directed by George Sidney and starring Frank Sinatra, Kathryn Grayson, and Gene Kelly, with songs by Jule Styne and Sammy Cahn. In the film, two sailors go on a four-day shore leave in Hollywood, meet a young boy and his aunt, an aspiring young singer, and the sailors try to help her get an audition at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. In addition to a live-action Kelly dancing with Jerry Mouse the cartoon mouse, the film also features José Iturbi, Pamela Britton, Dean Stockwell, and Sharon McManus.
Joe Brady (Gene Kelly) and Clarence Doolittle (Frank Sinatra) are Navy sailors who have a four-day leave in Hollywood. Joe has his heart set on spending time with his girl, the unseen Lola. Clarence, the shy choir boy turned sailor, asks Joe to teach him how to get girls. Donald, a little boy who wants to join the navy, is found wandering around the boulevard by a cop, who takes him to the police station. Clarence and Joe end up being picked up by the cops to help convince Donald to go home. After the two sailors wait at home and entertain Donald, Donald's Aunt Susie arrives. Clarence is smitten with her from the beginning. Susan goes on to tell them that she has been trying to find work in music, and longs to perform with José Iturbi. Trying to make Susan impressed with Clarence, Joe tells her that Clarence is a personal friend of Iturbi, and that he has arranged an audition for Susan with him. That night, they go out to a cafe (on an MGM recreation of Olvera Street) where Clarence meets a girl from Brooklyn, and they hit it off. The next day, Joe visits Donald's school, and tells the kids the story of how he got his medal, and how he brought happiness to a lonesome king (played by Jerry Mouse from Tom and Jerry, with Tom briefly appearing as a servant), and joy to the forest animals of the kingdom.
Meanwhile, Clarence has been trying to get into Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios to find Iturbi with no luck. After many failed attempts to find Iturbi, (including a rehearsal at the Hollywood Bowl) all hope is lost for Joe and Clarence, who want to come clean with Susan and tell her there was no audition. On Clarence and Joe's last day of leave, Susan runs into Iturbi In the studio commissary who has no idea of the audition. Susan begins to call Joe, whom by now she has fallen in love with, to yell at him. Iturbi stops her and agrees to get her a screen test, which turns out to be very successful. The movie ends as Iturbi conducts the choir in singing "Anchors Aweigh", and Joe, Susan, Clarence and the girl from Brooklyn kiss.
The movie was written by Natalie Marcin and Isobel Lennart and directed by George Sidney. It was the first of three buddy pictures teaming the cocky dancing Kelly with the (against type) shy singing Sinatra, followed by Take Me Out To The Ball Game and On the Town, both in 1949. The production tried to mix some of the more successful story elements and set-pieces from earlier MGM musical hits, such as Meet Me in St. Louis (1944).
The movie is remembered for the musical number in which Gene Kelly dances seamlessly with the animated Jerry Mouse (voiced by Sara Berner). Tom Cat appears briefly as a butler in the sequence supervised by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera. The animation was entirely undertaken by Kenneth Muse, Ray Patterson and Ed Barge. Originally, the producers wanted to use Mickey Mouse for this segment. Some sources claim Walt Disney initially agreed to loan out Mickey, but Roy Disney rejected the deal. According to Bob Thomas's book on Roy Disney, the studio was in debt after World War II and they were focusing on trying to release their own films out on time. According to Roy, they had no business making cartoons for other people.
The film offers rare color glimpses of the wartime MGM studio, including the Thalberg Building, the frontgate, the backlot, the commissary, and one of the scoring stages, as well as an on-screen performance by real members of the MGM studio orchestra. There is also a memorable scene at the Hollywood Bowl, where Sinatra sings "I Fall in Love Too Easily", after Iturbi and a group of young pianists have performed an arrangement of Franz Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2. In the audition scene with Iturbi, Grayson sings a special arrangement by Earl Brent for coloratura soprano and orchestra of the waltz from Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's Serenade for Strings. And Iturbi conducts the United States Navy Band for a patriotic rendition of the title tune. Some of the scenes in this film were later featured in the That's Entertainment! (1974) tributes to MGM.
Bosley Crowther of The New York Times wrote: "Another humdinger of a musical has been produced by Joe Pasternak for Metro ... for a popular entertainment, 'Anchors Aweigh' is hard to beat."Variety called the film "solid musical fare for all situations. The production numbers are zingy; the songs are extremely listenable; the color treatment outstanding."Harrison's Reports wrote: "Very good mass entertainment. Photographed in Technicolor, the production is extremely lavish, has good comedy, a romance, tuneful songs, and effective dancing. The story is thin, but it has some human interest, and there are so many humorous situations that one is kept laughing most of the way."Film Daily wrote: "Everything that could possibly be crammed into a musical is in evidence in this production ... It is hard to think of an M-G-M musical excelling it. There is no reason why the film should not gain recognition as one of the year's best of its type." 
According to MGM records the film earned $4,498,000 in the US and Canada and $2,977,000 elsewhere, resulting in a profit of $2,123,000.