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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
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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The 1936 "Anything Goes" is another example of Hollywood's mishandling of what could have been a classic film version of a classic Broadway show. All the opportunities were there-Bing Crosby as the male lead, Ethel Merman (who did make her songs famous, even if you can't stand her singing style) repeating her stage role, Charlie Ruggles a perfect and hilarious replacement for Victor Moore, and one of Cole Porter's two greatest scores-the other being "Kiss Me Kate". So what do the filmmakers do?
They throw out all but four of the original songs and turn the film into a Bing Crosby vehicle by getting a group of songwriters to write several new songs especially for him, one of them reportedly at his request. Then, they rewrite the lyrics to "You're the Top" (one of Porter's most clever songs), retain only the first verse of the title song, "Anything Goes", make a minor change (required by the censors of the time) to the lyrics to "I Get A Kick Out Of You", keep the original plot line (notice that the filmmakers considered the ridiculous plot sacred enough to leave alone, but not Cole Porter's songs), and release this flat, unfunny mess. At least Ethel Merman fans get to see her sing two of her biggest hit songs on film.
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