"Red Garters" was so ahead of its time that they had to insert a title at the beginning that tried to point out that it was a satire! And not only a satire, but a complete re-thinking of how a movie was to look.
First, the sets were skeletal cutouts against primary colors (red, yellow, blue, purple). If you look and care, the effect came from colored sawdust (?) and a cyclorama lighted in the same color. Imagine a yellow world like this with black cut-out trees, a cowboy hero in pale buckskin riding a palamino pony, singing and riding into a town of white frame-only buildings, getting sent to a barbecue celebrating the death of notorious gun-slinger who turns out to be the cowboy's brother!
Most viewers would have run out by now. But if you sit and watch, one of the most fascinating and fun Hollywood musicals will play out before you.
While its always about the sets, the style of "Red Garters" is brilliantly carried out by the cast. The actors play it for real,but with a little nod to the artificiality. Rosemary Clooney and Guy Mitchell are absolutely terrific together - she is soigne and world-weary, he is young and headstrong. And their voices work together like Doris Day and Gordon McCrae!
The songs are wonderful - tuneful, intelligent and witty - from the guys who brought us "Buttons and Bows" among other oscar-winning titles.
"Red Garters" is not the greatest movie musical but it is a splendid example of imaginative thinking about where the movie musical could go. Much of this movie could fit on an MTV if MTV had begun 20 years earlier.
Finally, the film is a hoot! I think the tape doesn't do justice to the colors of the backgrounds, washing them out a bit but if you crank up your "color" setting you may get some idea about what "Red Garters" brought to the party.
And watch Clooney. Its her best movie performance ever. A little of it shows in "White Christmas", but in "Red Garters" she really takes off and becomes a genuiine diva.