Bill Benson and Ted Adams are to appear in a Broadway show together and, while in Paris, each 'discovers' the perfect leading lady for the plum female role. Each promises the prize role to ...
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Bill Benson and Ted Adams are to appear in a Broadway show together and, while in Paris, each 'discovers' the perfect leading lady for the plum female role. Each promises the prize role to the girl they selected without informing the other until they head back across the Atlantic by liner - with each man having brought his choice along! It becomes a stormy crossing as each man has to tell his 'find' that she might not get the role after all. Written by
It's easy to understand why they took their time getting around to releasing a DVD of this one. As can be seen from other comments, the 1956 film version of "Anything Goes" will generally disappoint those who love the stage version. Other than some of Cole Porter's songs and a setting on a cruise ship there is no similarity between the two productions. The very entertaining (and still frequently performed) Cole Porter musical has been transformed into a pretty lame film, and three songs by Jimmy Van Heusen and Sammy Cahn have been inexplicably added to the production. Even worse is the loss of most of P.G. Wodehouse's clever script, which was rewritten by a Hollywood hack into this dumbed-down version.
This doesn't make "Anything Goes" unwatchable. The choreography is mostly first rate. Most of the musical numbers are entertaining and several are excellent. The performances are typical of each cast members career work (both good and bad) and the film has some interesting Hollywood cinema history aspects.
You know almost immediately that this will not be a rousing bit of entertainment, instead of a high-energy opening number the film begins with a back stage party scene that is about as lively as an abandoned railroad track.
Bing Crosby and Donald O'Connor play Broadway co-stars who go to Europe to recruit a leading lady for their upcoming show. Each brings their discovery aboard a cruise ship for a transatlantic voyage. Mitzi Gaynor and Zizi Jeanmaire play the girls. Since there is only one role the remainder of the film is about determining which one will be featured and keeping it secret that both were already promised the role. There are two romances, with the two actors falling for each other's girl during the ocean crossing. Suspense and comedy are in short supply.
Gaynor manages a pretty good performance; she gets one very hot feature number (the title song-although Porter's original four letter word lyrics are toned down) and duets with O'Connor in the film's best number "It's De-lovely". O'Connor is also featured in a very original dance routine with children and a lot of bouncing balls. In this he dances to Van Heusen's "Bounce Right Back," not much of a song but a good excuse for using him in another unique routine.
Jeanmaire was a French ballet star ("Carmen") who briefly tried her stuff in mid-50's Hollywood. She was a Leslie Caron clone complete with the same hairstyle. Her two solo numbers "I Get a Kick Out of You" and "Dream Ballet" are surprisingly good, at least the dancing portions.
Bing Crosby of course is well known to old movie buffs but others will be somewhat puzzled by his popularity. Nothing he does in "Anything Goes" sheds light on this question. He was a "popular" extremely bland singer and a horrible actor with some comic ability. In "Anything Goes" even his comedy stuff is pretty awful. Paired with Bing, O'Connor has about the same chance for success as someone trying to sneak through a balloon shop wearing a porcupine overcoat.
The Technicolor and VistaVision completely overpower the cheap production design as well as Sidney Sheldon's (the hack writer mentioned above) weak adaptation.
Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.
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