6.1/10
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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 »

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »
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Cast

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

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

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Biography | Musical

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Details

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Release Date:

28 September 1956 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El encanto de vivir  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

"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 »

Goofs

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 »

Connections

References Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1925) See more »

Soundtracks

Lucky Day
Music by Ray Henderson
Lyrics by Lew Brown and Buddy G. DeSylva
Sung by Dan Dailey
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User Reviews

 
Ernest Borgnine is oddly cast as a super-angry guy who co-stars in a musical!
10 February 2016 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

I have no idea how accurate this bio-pic is about the musical writing team of Lew Brown (Ernest Borgnine), Buddy De Silva (Gordon MacRae) and Ray Henderson (Dan Dailey) is, I have no idea as information about these guys' personal lives is scant on the internet. However, I strongly believe it's mostly fiction because that was the norm for films like this in Hollywood during this time. Besides, I find it very hard to believe Lew Brown could be this angry all the time! He did die from a heart attack...so who knows? Not surprisingly, the film only focuses on a small portion of their lives--from the time they teamed up in the 1920s through their time in Hollywood and Broadway.

Much of the film is your typical 1950s musical--with some incredibly irrelevant and artsy dance numbers that are dream sequences (sort of like shorter versions of the HUGE one in "An American in Paris") and some traditional song/dance numbers. In between, there is story...but often this takes a back seat to the songs.

Did I like it? Not much. It's reasonably well made and the trio wrote some very familiar tunes that are sometimes enjoyable. But Borgnine's one-note performance wasn't enjoyable and the other characters seemed underdeveloped...though not as badly as Borgnine's. MacRae had a nice voice and was a heel. Dailey played the piano and was bland. I really wish they'd eliminated a few songs and focused much more on the story...but that is personal taste and the 1950s musicals often were more music than story. Compared to these other musicals, this one is just okay...and the Jolson sequences are, not surprisingly, dated. Seeing a guy who's obviously not Jolson and hiding it by ALWAYS having him in black-face was kind of silly...and tacky.


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