Bill Benson (Bing Crosby) and Ted Adams (Donald O’Connor) are to appear in a Broadway show together and, while in Paris, they discover Patsy Blair (Mitzi Gaynor) and Gaby Duval (Zizi Jeanmaire) dancers whom they believe will be perfect in their show. The problem? There is only one role, and each promises the lead role to the girl they selected without informing the other until they head back across the Atlantic on a cruise ship–with each man having brought his choice along. From then on, it becomes up to the two men to sort out their mess and tell one girl that she might not get the role after all.
Anything Goes is a 1956 musical film adapted from the Cole Porter, Guy Bolton and P.G. Wodehouse stage production of the same title. However, other than some songs and the title, the film features almost no similarities to the musical or the 1936 film that predated it. It also does not hold up very well. Without even comparing it the original piece which it’s “based” upon (and I use that term loosely) it comes out a little flat. It’s missing something, which is a shame because for all intents and purposes it contains the trappings of an entertaining musical, but the chemistry is not there.
Those who are familiar with the stage musical, can tell within the first few minutes that this film was re-tailored for Crosby–which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The cast is what saves the film, in particular Crosby, O’Connor and Gaynor. Their musical and acting abilities manage to keep the film afloat and the viewer engaged while Zizi Jeanmaire, though a great dancer, isn’t much of an actress.
The other saving grace is of course the music. Cole Porter’s music has withstood the test of time and almost anyone can name at least one of his songs. Most have been cut and replaced with new songs by Jimmy Van Heusen and Sammy Cahn, while the best-known musical numbers remain albeit with updated arrangements. Some of the new songs aren’t bad. “You Can Bounce Right Back” is entertaining and Mitzi Gaynor gives it her all with her rendition of the title song. However, The one Porter song that seems to have kept its charm is a nice Gaynor/O’Connor duet on “De-Lovely.”
The best actor/actress hands down is Mitzi Gaynor. Poised and exquisite, it was impossible to take your eyes off her, but she alone isn’t enough to make you want to come back. Anything Goes isn’t exactly a bad film, but it isn’t a great one either. It’s decent. The choreography is mostly first rate; some of the musical numbers are entertaining with at least two being excellent and there are talented performers involved, but never quite comes together.
- Directed by–Robert Lewis
- Produced by–Robert Emmett Dolan
- Written by–Sidney Sheldon & Howard Lindsay, Guy Bolton (play), P.G. Wodehouse (play)
- Starring–Bing Crosby, Donald O’Connor, Mitzi Gaynor and Zizi Jeanmaire
- Music by–Cole Porter, Joseph J. Lilley, Nick Castle and Van Cleave