Sunday, March 6, 2011

Stone Cole Porter

Anything Goes (1956) probably didn't kill movie musicals, but it isn't completely innocent either. It has a few Cole Porter songs, a few other songs, a story that has nothing to do with the Broadway musical or earlier film of the same name. It has some appealling stars, and an appalling lack of charm.

Bing Crosby and Donald O'Connor are two stars who agree to do a musical together. Bing is the established name, O'Connor the television crooner beloved by all the bobbysoxers. I guess he's a stand-in for Sinatra, Crosby's traditional nemesis. Although both are insecure egomaniacs, they are also insincere, and agree that the leading lady can be anyone either of them choose. Then they go off on separate European trips.

In England, Bing discovers Mitzi Gaynor and gives her the job. In Paris, O'Connor discovers Zizi Jeanmaire and gives her the job. Then they all get on the ship and sail back to New York. Such is the plot.

I like Mitzi Gaynor, although she is a little too perky sometimes, like Debbie Reynolds. She can dance, though, unlike Reynolds. Jeanmaire is a ballet dancer of exceptional talent, with a beautiful "line" - her modern dance numbers especially allow her to combine sinuous curves with cubistic angles.

On the other hand, the songs are pretty limp, and the dance numbers with Bing or O'Connor are not very inspired. This is pretty disappointing, because O'Connor is a great dancer, as anyone who has seen Singing in the Rain knows. He really didn't get a lot of chances to show it, and this film is not exception.

So, two annoying male leads, some lackluster songs and a few great dance numbers, especially those involving Jeanmaire. Maybe this movie didn't kill the musical, but you can see the musical dying in it.

In conclusion, guess what they used as a substitute for "cocaine" in "I Get a Kick Out of You"? Hint: If you took one little whiff, it would bore you terrifically too.


mr. schprock said...

Was it "sniff' or "whiff"? In either case, was it "terriff"?

Do you watch many Danny Kaye movies? (I kind of lump Danny Kaye and Donald O'Connor together, and both partnered with Bing Crosby.) I would love to hear your take on The Court Jester someday. (I may even buy that movie.)

Beveridge D. Spenser said...

Danny Kaye - I consider him to be very talented and totally annoying. I lump him with Gene Wilder, who has a similar style. I understand the appeal, I can see the talent, and I even like some of their movies. I wish I liked them more, because they made a lot of good movies - which I can't enjoy, because they are so annoying.

Actually, I feel that way about Crosby. Great talent, good movies, annoying. (But not in the same whiny, hysterical man-boy way.)