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Anything Goes (1936)

A young man falls in love with a beautiful blonde. When he sees her being forced onto a luxury liner, he decides to follow and rescue her. However, he discovers that she is an English ... See full summary »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Mrs. Wentworth
Capt. McPhail
Edward Gargan ...
Matt McHugh ...
Budd Fine ...
The Avalon Boys ...


A young man falls in love with a beautiful blonde. When he sees her being forced onto a luxury liner, he decides to follow and rescue her. However, he discovers that she is an English heiress who ran away from home and is now being returned to England. He also discovers that his boss is on the ship. To avoid discovery, he disguises himself as the gangster accomplice of a minister, who is actually a gangster on the run from the law. Written by frankfob2@yahoo.com

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


It's The Top! See more »


Comedy | Musical





Release Date:

24 January 1936 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Tops Is the Limit  »

Box Office


$1,100,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


W.C. Fields was replaced before filming began with Charles Ruggles. See more »


[first lines]
Reno Sweeney: [singing] In olden days a glimpse of stocking / Was looked on as something shocking, / Now, Heaven knows, / Anything goes!
[as she sings the words "anything goes", the title of the film appears onscreen]
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Referenced in The Muppet Show: Ethel Merman (1977) See more »


Written by Friedrich Hollaender, Richard A. Whiting and Leo Robin
Sung by Ethel Merman and Bing Crosby
See more »

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User Reviews

Above average filming of classic Porter/Merman vehicle
15 March 2007 | by (Jersey City, New Jersey) – See all my reviews

Even though only four or five (depending on how you count) of Cole Porter's great songs were retained ["I Get A Out of You," "There Will Always Be A Lady Fair" (the sailor's quartet with reprises ), "You're The Top" (with reprises and bizarrely done up as the chorus to a "Shanghai-De-Ho" finale number"), "Anything Goes" (all too briefly in the opening credits and background score) and the haunting "All Through the Night" (sadly, surviving only in the overture in the TV print seen!) several of them with altered lyrics and the song cues very much in place for "You Do Something To Me"] and a passel of not bad others for crooner Crosby ["Steer By The North Star/Sailor Beware," "I'll Get a Moonburn," "My Heart and I"] added in typical Hollywood know-it-all fashion (Cole Porter was a particular victim of this syndrome) this essentially plot faithful, and decidedly all-star preservation of one of Porter's greatest hits is required viewing for anyone interested in "golden age" musicals and jolly good fun for anyone else, even in its lamely TV retitled and apparently badly edited "Tops Is The Limit" version.

Ethel Merman recreating her Broadway Reno Sweeney is at her best (possibly outshining even her later, smoother Broadway recreation in the film of CALL ME MADAM) and amply demonstrates why she (along with Mary Martin) was at the top of most lists of 20th Century musical theatre stars.

More than ample support is provided by Bing Crosby in the William Gaxton role of Billy Crocker (who Reno is attracted to but who hankers after runaway socialite Hope), Charlie Ruggles in the Victor Moore role of "Public Enemy #13, 'Moonface' Martin - on the lamb from the FBI, Ida Lupino as Hope Harcourt, Arthur Treacher as Lord Evelyn Oakleigh who is trying to bring Hope home to England to marry her, Margaret Dumont briefly seen as Mrs. Wentworth the owner of a kidnapped Peikinese, Charlie Chan's "Number One Son" Keye Luke & Philip Ahn as a pair of gambling Chinese and Grace Bradley as Moonface's moll Bonnie.

All are blissfully gathered (and some farcically hiding) on a ship crossing from New York to London. The original pre-Broadway rehearsal script had the cast shipwrecked, but the well publicized burning of the actual cruise ship Morro Castle off New Jersey while the show was in preparation made shipwrecks decidedly unPC for musical comedy so all the action was kept on board.

Few shipboard films (certainly not the bland and UNfaithful 1956 remake with Crosby and Mitzi Gaynor) have as much fun capturing an Atlantic crossing OR a Broadway show.

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