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There's No Business Like Show Business
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Movie Details

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Directed By
Walter Lang

Ethel Merman, Donald O'Connor, Marilyn Monroe, Dan Dailey, Mitzi Gaynor, Frank McHugh, Hugh O'Brian, Johnny Ray

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There's No Business Like Show Business (1954)
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Movie Review by Lone Wolf
February 22nd, 2007

There's No Business Like Show Business

In 1919, Molly Donahue (Ethel Merman) and Terence Donahue (Dan Dailey) are a vaudeville team that travels a great deal. They have three children, Tim (Donald O'Connor), Steve (Johnnie Ray), and Katy (Mitzi Gaynor), who join their act on stage to sing and dance as The Five Donahues. When the children mature, the popularity of the parents declines.

Tim meets hat check girl Vicky Hoffman (Marilyn Monroe), falls in love, and the family act starts to disintegrate. Steve leaves the show to become a priest. Johnny Ray's acting is so bad, leaving the movie would have been preferable. Then Katy meets handsome Charles Biggs (Hugh O'Brian). In the end, the family reunites during a splashy production number finale.

The twenty year history of the family's struggles on and off stage has a thin plot. It is mostly a vehicle for a catalogue of vibrant and rousing Irving Berlin songs. A flamboyant and gaudy musical comedy, it is entertaining, if not inspired. The movie is 20th Century-Fox's first Cinemascope musical and must be watched in the widescreen format. Often the screen is filled with six people side by side, so a pan and scan fullscreen version should be avoided if possible.

Others in the cast include: Richard Eastham (Lew Harris), Frank McHugh (Eddie Duggen), Rhys Williams (Father Dineen), Lee Patrick (Marge), Robin Raymond (Lillian Sawyer), Chick Chandler (Harry), Nolan Leary (Archbishop), Gavin Gordon (Geoffrey), Isabelle Dwan (Sophie Tucker), Charlotte Austin (Lorna), Donald Kerr (Bobbly Clark), and many others. Lamar Trotti, and Henry and Phoebe Ephron wrote the script. Alfred Newman composed the incidental music. Walter Lang directed.

There are 15 Irving Berlin songs. Marilyn Monroe sings "Heat Wave" and "After You Get What You Want You Don't Want It". Ethel Merman sings "Let's Have Another Cup O'Coffee", "When They Play a Simple Melody", "A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody", and "There's No Business Like Show Business"--which is also performed by the entire cast. "Lazy" is performed by Monroe, Gaynor, and O'Connor. Dan Dailey Sings "You'd be Surprised". "A Sailor's not a Sailor ('Til a Sailor's Been Tattooed) is sung by Merman and Gaynor. "A Man Chases a Girl (Until She Catches Him)" is sung by Monroe and O'Connor, who also dances. Merman and Dailey sing "When the Midnight Choo Choo Leaves for Alabam", which is later reprised by Gaynor and O'Connor. Johnnie Ray sings "If You Believe". "Alexander's Ragtime Band" is sung by Merman, Dailey, O'Connor, Gaynor, and Ray--and later by the entire cast.

THERE'S NO BUSINESS LIKE SHOW BUSINESS was extremely expensive to make, attracted a large audience, but did not make a profit at the time. The title is taken from the famous song in the musical ANNIE GET YOUR GUN (1950). Most critics don't rate this movie very highly. Marilyn Monroe didn't want to make this film, but agreed when Fox promised her the lead in THE SEVEN YEAR ITCH (1957). Nonetheless, it's one of the best Hollywood musicals, looks great and the music is wonderful in four-track stereo surround sound.

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