A star-studded cast wants you to know... There's No Business Like Show Business (1954)
This is my contribution to the Backstage Blogathon, another superb event from Fritzi of Movies Silently and Janet of Sister Celluloid. Click here to read the other posts.
Don't get me wrong -- I love Marilyn, I really do, but I must admit that her popularity can be a bit much. For instance, the box set of her films I have that includes Show Business. While Monroe has a good-sized part in it, including two solo musical numbers, I'm not totally sure I would put this alongside The Seven Year Itch, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, How to Marry a Millionaire, and Bus Stop like my set does. You know what I mean? It gives you the wrong impression of what the film is like, which can sometimes ruin the viewing experience for you.
Luckily for me, I wasn't a bit perturbed to find out that in addition to Marilyn, I was getting the aforementioned Gaynor, O'Connor, and Merman, as well as Dan Dailey. As if that weren't enough, we get a fun score from Irving Berlin, direction from the ever-reliable Walter Lang, and the lusciousness of Technicolor. Perhaps, though, what surprised me most about the film was its sweet story of a show business family. When you have all these things screaming "MARILYN" at you, the last thing you expect is to feel goosebumps and get teary-eyed at scenes that don't even involve the blonde bombshell. If you're surprised to read that, imagine my shock when it happened to me -- scratch that, when it consistently happens to me. While I attribute all this warmth and fuzziness to the stellar cast, I also have to give props to the screenplay, written by Phoebe and Henry Ephron (yes, Nora's parents). Other credits of theirs include Daddy Long Legs and Desk Set, two of my favorites.
When Tim comes home drunk, Molly rolls her eyes and dunks his head in the sink to sober him up before she tucks him into bed. (By the way, I love that Tim's bathroom has lots of different hotel towels. It's a nice
One of the best scenes, though, is during a party thrown for Steve before he goes into the ministry. Katy and Tim re-enact an old number of Terry and Molly's, complete with the same costumes and Gaynor's impression of
Terry is beaming with pride, but when he looks at Molly, she's crying because she realizes how things are changing for them. Without saying anything, Terry holds his wife and we fade to black. Why am I getting goosebumps from this?!
here or his celebrated routine with Gene Kelly and Michael Kidd here.
Out of the Donahue kids, Donald O'Connor is given the best showcase, which isn't surprising since he was guaranteed box office by this point after the success of Singin' in the Rain two years earlier. Like Dailey, O'Connor is one of those Golden Age dancers who gets left behind in the shadows of Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire, excluding the immortal legacy of Singin'.
During his dance, he gets hit on the head and starts imagining that the figurines in the fountain
Bing Crosby ironically sings about being lazy while doing vigorous chores on his new farm. Marilyn Monroe slithers around, rejecting dates because it would mean getting off of the couch while O'Connor
(Naturally, because Marilyn's in it people will post it, but any other number from this film can't be uploaded. I'm only slightly bitter.)
Dressed in a nude-colored but sparkly dress and matching headpiece, she does this darling
The best video I could find is here, although it has an annoying banner at the bottom of the screen that you might want to cover with your hand or something.
here. I thought I'd find a good print of it, but no such luck.
I should confess one thing: I can't stand Johnnie Ray. His tortuous acting makes him easily the weakest part of the film, but thankfully he doesn't get a lot of screen time. Aside from that, Show Business is a good musical with strong talent. It admires its subject for their resilience and their devotion to putting on a good show, rewarding them with a deserved happy ending. The movie has some melodramatic moments, sure, but before you roll your eyes at them, you might find a tear instead. You can enjoy the movie on Netflix Instant or on DVD -- let me know your thoughts in the comments!