DVD REVIEW: Anything Goes (1956)

0
184

5 point 5

This Warner Archive release is a Manufacture-On-Demand (MOD) DVD. It is made to be played in “play only” DVD devices, and may not play in some DVD recorders or PC drives. This DVD, however, played with no problems in the Toshiba DVD recorder used for this review. This title is available directly from WBShop.com by clicking here.

THE SET-UP
While in Europe, a couple of entertainers (Bing Crosby and Donald O’Connor) both find a girl to headline their new show, without telling the other. When they show up for the boat ride back to America (with the girls in tow), the battle over which girl gets the role begins. Also stars Mitzi Gaynor and Jeanmaire. Featuring the music of Cole Porter.
Directed by Robert Lewis. 

anythinggoesstill1

THE DELIVERY
Hollywood musicals can be an acquired taste: while the music is the main attraction, the obligatory acting and plot is often tedious. Anything Goes, from 1956, has a lot of the former and a little of the latter; the music is superb, but the rest of the movie is pure corn. At least it is entertaining.

The film is actually a remake of a 1936 film (which was itself based on a Broadway play), and both star Bing Crosby. The plots are radically different, and the only common factor, besides Crosby, are the songs by the legendary Cole Porter. The actual lineup of songs changed from the original to the remake, with only three making it to the new version.

Crosby and Donald O’Connor are at the top of their game as two entertainers named Bill and Ted, respectively (no, I am not making that up), who team up for a new stage show. However, each has a pretty big ego, with each believing they are the star. Things get even more complicated when both go to Europe on separate trips and each finds a singer that they think is perfect for the female lead. The singers (played by Mitzi Gaynor and Jeanmaire) each accompany Bill and Ted on a boat trip back to the United States, and on the way, everyone discovers there is one girl too many. Hilarity, romance, and plenty of musical numbers ensue.

anythinggoesstill2

Despite the fact that Crosby, O’Connor, and Gaynor were talented entertainers, the script is pure hokum. It’s silly and corny, and not particularly interesting. Even the inclusion of the great Phil Harris (who voiced Disney characters Baloo in The Jungle Book and Little John in Robin Hood), as Gaynor’s father, does little to help. He gets a seriously-themed subplot which brings down the film’s otherwise light tone.

On the plus side, there’s a great musical number coming every few minutes. A number of Cole Porter’s classics are crammed into this picture, even more than the original film version. Even if you’re not a Porter fan, you’ve likely heard them: “It’s De-lovely,” ‘You’re the Top,” and “Blow Gabriel Blow” are all featured, as well as film’s signature song, “Anything Goes,” which we get a mere 15 minutes into the feature.

I hope I’m not spoiling it by telling you that things work out in the end. Honestly, though, the story’s of little consequence. The music and stage numbers are the real draw here, and Anything Goes has a real charm because of it. Crosby, O’Connor and company are outstanding as usual, and their performances during the musical numbers are worth your time. They may not be as classic as My Fair Lady or The Sound of Music, but they still hold up well. Their performances outside of the songs may leave something to be desired, but who cares? Sit back and enjoy the music.  

anythinggoesstill3

VIDEO AND AUDIO
This Warner Archive release uses the transfer Paramount used for their initial DVD release years ago. Actually, the entire DVD is essentially the original Paramount version re-burned to a DVD-R; even the copyright warnings and disc titles are Paramount branded. The quality is the same, and the video transfer uses a fairly clean print (although occasional specks do pop up in the image). However, the overall image is a bit soft (the images in this review are screenshots taken from our review copy); Bing’s famous baby blue eyes look a bit blobish rather than striking. Still, for a 60 year old film, most viewers will be happy with the quality. Audio is an excellent 5.1 Dolby Digital mix, and while there is good clarity, it doesn’t sound as rich and full as you might hope. 

anythinggoesstill4

SPECIAL FEATURES
None. The menu does have scene selection, which some people count as a special feature. I don’t.

anythinggoesdvd

THE BOTTOM LINE: BUY IT OR REDBOX IT?
Ratings (1-10 scale)

Movie: 7

Video: 7

Audio: 7

Extras: 1

Overall score: 5.5

Anything Goes isn’t one of the greatest musicals of all time, but it is highly entertaining. Crosby and O’Connor are among the best entertainers there ever were in the musical genre. With this film being largely unavailable on DVD for years, this release will likely be welcomed by musical fans, and it is worth a watch even if you aren’t.

DVD SPECS
Release Date: July 2, 2013

Rating: Not rated

Running time: 106 minutes

Aspect ratio: 1.66:1

Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0

Subtitles: English

Special features: None. 

Label: Warner Archive

Click here to order Anything Goes on DVD from WBShop.com!