Ann Miller and Busby Berkeley—what a combination! Doubtless this would be true even if Berkeley’s choreography in Small Town Girl (1953) was mediocre but, unable to judge this particular art form, I don’t know whether it is or not. To my mind it’s pleasurable, as surely as Miller’s dancing is entrancing and forceful. Another kinetic treasure in the film, however, is dancer Bobby Van, moving beautifully for “Take Me to Broadway.” Miller whirls along on waves of percussion in “I’ve Gotta Hear That Beat.”
The book for this musical concerns a cocky New Yorker (Farley Granger) who spends time in a small town jail for speeding and insolence. The titular small town girl is blue-eyed Jane Powell, who at first seems pretty vanilla but is later very acceptable. And she sings well. In a cameo, so does Nat “King” Cole, on a fine song called “My Flaming Heart.” Ann Miller is the one to watch, though—and is adeptly used by director Leslie Kardos.
(Available for rent on YouTube.)