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Saturday, 23 June 2012

There's No Business Like Show Business (1954)

Star of the Month... Marilyn Monroe

The title is borrowed from the immortal showtune from 'Annie Get Your Gun', and tells the story of vaudeville family, the 5 Donohues: Terrance (played by Dailey), Molly (played by Merman), Tim (played by O'Connor), Katy (played by Gaynor) and Steve (played by Ray). Marilyn plays singer Victoria "Vicky" Hoffman.

From the deep red velvet curtain backdrop during the opening credits, one gets a sense of excitement about what is to come... Ethel Merman and Marilyn Monroe in a vaudeville musical featuring Irving Berlin songs... unfortunately the excitement ends there.

'There's No Business Like Show Business' features some fantastic show stopping musical numbers, however the story is no great, it gets rather boring and runs way too long.

I would consider this to be more of an Ethel Merman film than a Marilyn Monroe film. It is the only film Marilyn made after 1953 in which she plays a supporting role -  it takes almost half an hour for her to appear. It is also one of the only films Marilyn appears in where she does not steal the film. It is Monroe vs. Merman, and as always Merman lands on top! In my opinion, Marilyn was not the right actress to star in this film, and 20th Century Fox would have been better off casting a less prominent star.

Musical highlights

Despite the slow pace of the film, there are a few fantastic big budget musical numbers, including Marilyn singing "Heatwave", and Ethel Merman singing her signature tune "There's No Business Like Show Business" - in fact no one can sing this song quite like Ethel.

Here are some YouTube videos showing my favourite musical moments from this film:

Song: "Heatwave" - Marilyn Monroe

Song: "There's No Business Like Show Business" - Ethel Merman

Song: "After You Get What You Want You Don't Want It" - Marilyn Monroe

Song: "Midnight Choo Choo Goes To Alabam' / Won't You Play A Simple Melody?" - Ethel Merman & Dan Dailey

Song: "Alexander's Ragtime Band" - Ethel Merman, Dan Dailey, Mitzi Gaynor, Donald O'Connor and Johnnie Ray

Closing remarks

As I previously said, this film is a big snooze - no surprise it was a big box office bomb upon it's initial release and failed to recover its production cost. Had the film not featured Marilyn Monroe it would be a forgotten film today. 

I would recommend this film to die hard Marilyn or Ethel Merman fans only - anyone else should focus their efforts on a spectacular MGM musical.

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