In a fantasy sequence mixing live action with animation, Gene Kelly- dressed in a sailor's costume- dances with Jerry the mouse, who portrays both a king and his servant (Tom puts in a brief cameo as well). "I can't sing or dance, so I've imposed a law against it," says Jerry. Responds Kelly: "Anyone can, you just have to want to." After the dance routine, Jerry gives the sailor a medal.
The dance number is "The King Who Couldn't Dance" by Sammy Fain (music) and Arthur Freed (lyrics), sung by Gene Kelly. The sequence includes three musical numbers: "Melancholy Mouse" (Jackson), "I Hadda" (Jackson) and "The Worry Song" (Ralph Freed-Sammy Fain).
MGM Cartoon Studio provided the animation. This was not the first combination of live action and animation, but possibly the first in Technicolor.
"For several days, Stanley Donen and I watched the search for 'this something,' and then, after a long silence, Stanley suggested, 'Why don't we have a dance with a cartoon?" actor Gene Kelly recalled.
As originally conceived, Kelly was supposed to do his famous dance routine with Mickey Mouse. However, Walt Disney would not lend his most famous "star" to a rival studio, so Joe Pasternak had to look "in-house" at MGM, and ultimately used Jerry for the routine.
"I'll always be grateful to Walt, because he telephoned [studio executive] Eddie Mannix to tell him what a fine idea we had, and to assure him of the feasibility of such a sequence," Kelly said.
Animators William Hanna and Joseph Barbera worked under the direction of Fred Quimby. Quimby's assistant, Irving G. Ries, supervised the optical effects department. Donen, working with the camerman, supervised the film's movement. Kelly was filmed against a blue background, with Jerry subsequently rotoscoped. The two images were later fused optically.
The dance routine had to be reanimated when producers noticed that Gene Kelly had a very noticeable reflection on the floor, and Jerry didn't. The animators had to come back and animate a reflection for Jerry.
The scene cost $100,000 and took two months to produced, delaying the film's release.
Photos showing Tom, Jerry and Gene Kelly in the same shot are collages done for publicity puroses; the three are never seen together. Tom and Jerry are seen together, then Gene Kelly and Jerry.
The success of this segment prompted MGM to do a similar experiment in the otherwise live-action 1953 musical "Dangerous When Wet."
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