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Monday, February 2, 2015

There's No Business Like Show Business (1954)

In the 1920s, a husband (Dan Dailey) and wife (Ethel Merman) vaudeville team decide to give up the gypsy life and settle down so that their three children can have a more stable life. But show business is in their blood too and all three (Donald O'Connor, Mitzi Gaynor, Johnnie Ray) grow up to become part of the family act. But as adults, the children begin to take control of their own lives which doesn't always suit their parents. This big lavish 20th Century Fox musical overwhelms its flimsy narrative. But the plot, such as it is, is merely an excuse to raid the Irving Berlin songbook and those great Berlin songs are reason enough to justify the film. It's the musical numbers that make the film highly watchable. Whether it's O'Connor's buoyant footwork in A Man Chases A Girl, Merman belting out the title number or Marilyn Monroe sizzling up the screen with Heat Wave (a shocked Ed Sullivan called it "a flagrant violation of good taste"), the songs are irresistible. To actually ask for a fresher script seems almost churlish. Directed by Walter Lang (THE KING AND I). With Hugh O'Brian, Frank McHugh, Rhys Williams, Lee Patrick, Eve Miller and Robin Raymond.

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