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There's No Business Like Show Business (1954)

Approved | | Comedy, Drama, Musical | 6 January 1955 (Uruguay)
Molly and Terry Donahue, plus their three children, are The Five Donahues. Son Tim meets hat-check girl Vicky and the family act begins to fall apart.



(screenplay), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »

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Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »



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Complete credited cast:
Johnnie Ray ...
Steve Donahue
Katy Donahue
Richard Eastham ...
Lew Harris
Charles Gibbs
Eddie Dugan
Father Dineen
Hatcheck Girl
Lillian Sawyer
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Ed Oliver ...
Bandleader (as Eddie Oliver)


Molly and Terry Donahue, plus their three children, are The Five Donahues. Son Tim meets hat-check girl Vicky and the family act begins to fall apart. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


With Love and Kisses from 20th Century-Fox...Straight from the Shoulder, Right from the Heart Comes...The Musicavalcade and the Personal Story of the Greatest Business on Earth!


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

6 January 1955 (Uruguay)  »

Also Known As:

Irving Berlin's There's No Business Like Show Business  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(optical prints)| (Western Electric Recording) (magnetic prints)


Aspect Ratio:

2.55 : 1
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Did You Know?


During the making of the CD, it was discovered that half the "Play a Simple Melody" duet was deteriorated beyond repair, with the result that Ethel Merman is credited on the CD label with singing with a "temporary vocal double for Dan Dailey". However, the non-stereo version was intact and was added to the CD as well - they are tracks Fourteen and Fifteen. See more »


On the marquee on opening night the Donahue daughter's name is spelled "Katie". On the poster for "34th week" it is spelled "Katy". See more »


Molly Donahue: You've gotta stop 'em, Terry!
Terrance Donahue: Me?
Molly Donahue: Certainly. You run this act.
Terrance Donahue: Ha, all of a sudden, when something goes wrong, I run the act.
Molly Donahue: Don't raise your voice to me!
Terrance Donahue: Who do you think *you* are, Whispering Jack Smith?
See more »


Referenced in Step by Step: No Business Like Show Business (1993) See more »


You'd Be Surprised
Written by Irving Berlin
Performed by Dan Dailey
See more »

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User Reviews

One of my favorites
9 October 2005 | by (Seattle) – See all my reviews

This is one of my favorite movies. It's a nice portrait of a show business family. It's a little on the corny side, but that's what's great about it. This is a great look at a family that began in Vaudeville, and worked their way up to headliners in their own act. The Film does a good job portraying the families closeness, and while it's a little hard to swallow a good looking actor like Dan Daily with someone like Ethel Merman for a wife, the two share a definite chemistry and a lot of humor.

This is probably the best that Ethel Merman ever looked and she is fantastic as the family matriarch and her comic talents work great with her hard-to-handle brood.

Although her part is pretty much left to singing and dancing, Mitzi Gaynor gives a spirited performance that we later see her give in the hit movie "South Pacific" as Nellie Forbush.

Donald O'Connor takes a more dramatic turn as the troubled son Tim. I have to admit, while some of his attempts to act like a drunk are a little hard to believe, his performance is one of his best, and his dancing in the film is almost as good as it was in "Singing In The Rain".

The odd duck out is the eldest brother Johnny Ray, who could certainly belt out a song with all the flamboyance and gusto that made him a star in the fifties. However, his acting skills left a lot to be desired. Still, his bad acting works for the character who was struggling to find his own identity when he decides becomes a priest. Perhaps Johnnie projected his own struggles with his bisexuality to guide him.

The most memorable aspect of this movie is Marilyn Monroe, who star was at it's zenith when this movie was being made. In a smart move, Monroe agreed to star in the film if the studio allowed her to also star in "The Seven Year Itch", but in a lot of ways, I feel this is one of her best movies.

First of all, she was clearly head and shoulders above the rest of the cast in terms of molten sexuality.

An example is in the number "Heatwave", which was initially intended for Mitzi Gaynor. The studio made a wise decision handing it over to Monroe who performed the number with so much heat that it's hard to envision the sweet Gaynor conveying that kind of performance.

The number "After you get what you want you don't want it" was also a standout and Marylin's costume was amazing and a precursor to the outfit Britney Spears would later make famous.

Marilyn also brings her tremendous vulnerability that no other comic actress could convey with believability, Marilyn could play wounded characters, perhaps because she was so wounded herself.

Watching her character suffer over her love for Tim and her desire for a career is very believable.

For me, the most amazing part of this movie are the gorgeous costumes. This movie, surprisingly has fantastic costumes made by the famous Travilla, who had already worked with Marilyn in almost all of her films including "River Of No Return", "Monkey Business" as well as "Gentleman Prefer Blondes" and "The Seven Year Itch".

Every costume seemed tailor made for every character.

This is a treat of a movie, with great music, great dancing, wonderful costumes and mostly Marilyn, who proves she could make anything work. It ranks right up there with some of her greatest work.

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