12 user 4 critic

The Best Things in Life Are Free (1956)

Ray Henderson joins Buddy De Sylva and Lew Brown to form a successful 1920s musical show writing team. They soon have several hits on Broadway but De Sylva's personal ambition leads to ... See full summary »


Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Biography | Drama | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A widow accepts a job as a live-in governess to the King of Siam's children.

Director: Walter Lang
Stars: Yul Brynner, Deborah Kerr, Rita Moreno
Adventure | History | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

A disinherited 13th Century Saxon nobleman leaves Norman England with an archer friend to seek his fortune in the Far East.

Director: Henry Hathaway
Stars: Tyrone Power, Orson Welles, Cécile Aubry
Second Fiddle (1939)
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

Studio publicist (Power) discovers Minnesota skating teacher (Henie) and takes her to Hollywood. She goes back to Minnesota but he follows her.

Director: Sidney Lanfield
Stars: Sonja Henie, Tyrone Power, Rudy Vallee
Rawhide (1951)
Drama | Romance | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A stagecoach stop employee and a stranded woman traveler find themselves at the mercy of four desperate outlaws intent on robbing the next day's gold shipment.

Director: Henry Hathaway
Stars: Tyrone Power, Susan Hayward, Hugh Marlowe
Comedy | Musical | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Two soldiers on sick leave spend three nights at the Hollywood Canteen before going back to active duty. With a little friendly help from John Garfield, Slim gets to kiss Joan Leslie, whom ... See full summary »

Director: Delmer Daves
Stars: Bette Davis, John Garfield, The Andrews Sisters
Biography | Drama | Sport
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

The triumph and tragedy of Native American Jim Thorpe, who, after winning both the pentathlon and decathlon in the same Olympics, is stripped of his medals on a technicality.

Director: Michael Curtiz
Stars: Burt Lancaster, Charles Bickford, Steve Cochran
Kismet (1955)
Adventure | Musical | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

A roguish poet is given the run of the scheming Wazir's harem while pretending to help him usurp the young caliph.

Directors: Vincente Minnelli, Stanley Donen
Stars: Howard Keel, Ann Blyth, Dolores Gray
Drama | Musical | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

This send-up of ragtime song and dance begins in 1915 San Francisco when society boy Roger Grant decides to pursue popular rather than serious music.

Director: Henry King
Stars: Tyrone Power, Alice Faye, Don Ameche
Mardi Gras (1958)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.6/10 X  
Director: Edmund Goulding
Stars: Pat Boone, Christine Carère, Tommy Sands
'G' Men (1935)
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

It's the early days of the F.B.I. - federal agents working for the Department of Justice. Though they've got limited powers - they don't carry weapons and have to get local police approval ... See full summary »

Director: William Keighley
Stars: James Cagney, Margaret Lindsay, Ann Dvorak
Dad (1989)
Drama | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

A busy, "always-on-the-run" executive learns during a meeting that his mother may be dying and rushes home to her side. He ends up being his father's caretaker and becomes closer to him ... See full summary »

Director: Gary David Goldberg
Stars: Jack Lemmon, Ted Danson, Olympia Dukakis
Romance | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

Fugitive bank robber Joe Maybe steals the identity of a marshal and rides into a town whose judge asks Joe to act as town marshal but an old flame almost betrays his real identity forcing Joe to claim she's his wife.

Director: Jesse Hibbs
Stars: Audie Murphy, Gia Scala, Walter Matthau


Cast overview, first billed only:
Ray Henderson
Lew Brown
Kitty Kane
Carl Frisbee
Manny Costain
Maggie Henderson
Winfield Sheehan
Tony Galento ...
Norman Brooks ...
Jacques d'Amboise ...
Specialty Dancer
Perky Nichols
Hollywood Star
Linda Brace ...
Jeannie Henderson
Patty Lou Hudson ...
Susie Henderson


Ray Henderson joins Buddy De Sylva and Lew Brown to form a successful 1920s musical show writing team. They soon have several hits on Broadway but De Sylva's personal ambition leads to friction as the other two increasingly feel left out of things. Written by Jeremy Perkins <jwp@aber.ac.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


John O'Hara's flaming portrait of the jazz age... and the guys and gals who made it Zing!


Biography | Musical


See all certifications »




Release Date:

28 September 1956 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El encanto de vivir  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


"Strike Me Pink", the near-flop musical depicted at the end of the movie, had a Broadway run of three months (122 performances - a not-atypical run for a musical during the depths of the Great Depression) at the Majestic Theatre in the spring of 1933. The Samuel Goldwyn Company filmed Strike Me Pink (1936) three years later. Although this film shows the song "The Best Things in Life Are Free" being performed in the play, it does not appear in the song lists of the IMDb entry for the movie or the Internet Broadway Database entry for the play. See more »


An establishing shot of Times Square in New York City, supposed to be taking place around 1930, clearly shows 1950s automobiles in the traffic. See more »


References Sunnyside Up (1929) See more »


It All Depends on You
Music by Ray Henderson
Lyrics by Lew Brown and Buddy G. DeSylva
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Middle-drawer Fox musical...not a predictable place to find Ernest Borgnine!
19 September 2010 | by (las vegas, nv) – See all my reviews

Working-stiff family man Ray Henderson, a piano player who dabbles in songwriting, meets struggling composers Buddy De Sylva and Lew Brown in 1920s Atlantic City; their musical partnership, formed by chance, evolves into a successful team which reaches the heights of Broadway and Hollywood. Biography of colorful tunesmith-trio who had hits with Al Jolson's "Sonny Boy" and the novelty numbers "Button Up Your Overcoat" and "Sunny Side Up" is nearly run into the ground by meandering musical routines which simply are not up to previous 20th Century-Fox standards. The casting also seems off: as the mercurial Brown, it isn't long before Ernest Borgnine loses his proverbial temper, yet his transitions from angry brute to dancing maestro have no resonance (the character never takes shape); Sheree North is the songbird who seems bound by faith to the three guys, though it's obvious her singing and dancing isn't as special as it's meant to be. As peace-keeper Henderson, Dan Dailey looks a bit sheepish at times (particularly in the "Overcoat" number), though Gordon MacRae as the overtly-ambitious De Sylva is nicely attuned to this milieu (and, for once, MacRae's baritone isn't over-worked). The production is glossy but lacks pizazz, while the uncertain path post-Hollywood isn't used to give the story an arc, only to point us to the formulaic happy ending. ** from ****

1 of 3 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
MOVIE - The Best Things In Life Are Free mimiboo60
Ann B Davis was in this show. see photo kemler
Discuss The Best Things in Life Are Free (1956) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: