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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 »

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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
...
...
Carl Frisbee
...
Manny Costain
...
Maggie Henderson
...
Winfield Sheehan
Tony Galento ...
Fingers
Norman Brooks ...
Al Jolson
Jacques d'Amboise ...
...
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

Certificate:

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Details

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Release Date:

28 September 1956 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El encanto de vivir  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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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

 
Historical inaccuracies aside I really liked it!
17 January 2011 | by See all my reviews

I thought the chemistry among the three leads - Gordon McRae as Buddy De Sylva, Dan Dailey as Ray Henderson, and Ernest Borgnine as Lew Brown - was absolutely perfect even if not necessarily true. Probably the hardest thing to take at first is the excessively caustic nature of Borgnine's portrayal of Lew Brown until you get to know a little more about Lew, his background, and his friends and then things begin to make sense. There's a good contrast of personalities here - De Sylva civilized but selfish versus the street-wise loud and rude Brown who'd put it all on the line for a friend. Henderson's gentle family man play-for-keeps style versus De Sylva's flavor-of-the-month attitude towards women. I don't know if any of this was true, but as cinema I liked it.

Knowing something about the early talkie musicals and the composers behind them, some things did bother me. At one point the film has the three going out to Hollywood to work on the 1929 early talkie musical "Sunnyside Up". This was largely a homespun little film in the tradition of the early Fox musicals with even a harpsichord number included. Instead, what we see on the set is an elaborate fan-dance like number with a man in a tuxedo singing "If I Had a Talking Picture of You" accompanied by dancing girls with long red boas. This is not how I remember Charles Farrell singing this one. In fact, if there is one big complaint I have is that the songs are pure 20's but the choreography and tempo of the numbers are like something out of an MGM musical ballet with Gene Kelly that would have been popular at the time of the film's release - 1956.

The key to enjoying this film is to focus on the beautiful music, good performances, and the pleasant nature of the story. Do that and I think you'll like it. I don't think this was ever intended to be a serious biopic.


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