There’s No Business Like Show Business (1954) B
Fox’s “There’s No Business Like Show Business” is a “catalogue” of a musical, a plotless movie that’s held together by Irving Berlin’s melodic tunes and some cliche situations, on stage and off.
Though Marilyn Monroe, then the country’s most popular star, is in the cast, the show belongs to big mama, Ethel Merman, in one of her best screen performances.
The story chronicles some twenty years in the lives of a showbiz family, the Donahues, headed by Dan Dailey’s Terry and Ethel Merman’s Molly. Two of the couple’s three grown children, Tim and Terry, played by Donald O’Connor and Mitzi Gaynor, respectively, carry on the family tradition, while the third, Steve (Johnny Ray), decides to become a priest.
O’Connor ‘s Tim falls in love with ambitious chorine Marilyn Monroe’s Vicky at a night club, where she acts as a hat-check girl.
The Four Donahues (Steve studies to be a priest) get a booking in a Florida hotel, where Tim discovers that Vicky is also on the bill. He persuades his family to do something else so that Vicky can do their number, “Heat Wave.” This sets Molly against Vicky, but not to worry, the two women reconcile when Vicky declares her true love for Tim. (Never mind that there is no erotic tension whatsover between Marilyn and O’Çonnor).
The family reunites during a splashy production-number finale. In the last reel, Steve, now an army chaplain, arrives backstage, as molly goes on to do her number. Tim, who has joined the Navy, also arrives backstage, and molly spots him from the stage. When Terry joins the happy reunion, the original Five Donahues all go on stage. Vicky gets into the act, standing beside Tim, and all six sing joyously the melodic title tune, “There’s No Business Like Show Business.
Highlights in this, essentially tribute to genius composer Irving Berlin, include Dailey and Merman’s “Play a Simple Melody” duet, O’Connor’s “A Man Chases a Girl” solo, and Monroe’s seductive rendition of “Heat Wave” (her delivery and stage presence both compensate for her hideous and unflattering costume).
In her 22nd film, Monroe sang, in addition to Heat Wave, two more songs, “After You Get What You Want, You Don’t Want It,” and “Lazy.”
“There’s No Business Like Show Business,” which was Fox’s first CinemaScope musical, was nominated for three Oscars, winning none.
Oscar Nominations: 3
Motion Picture Story: Lamar Trotti
Scoring of a Musical: Alfred Newman and Lionel Newman
Costume Design (Color): Charles LeMaire, Travilla, and Miles White
Oscar Awards: None
The winner of the Story Oscar was Philip Yordan for “Broken Lance.”
The Scoring Oscar went to Adolphe Deutsch and Saul Chapin for “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.”
The Oscar for Costume design went to Sanzo Wada for the Japanese film, “Gate of Hell.”
Running time: 117 Minutes.
Directed By: Walter Lang
Screenplay: Henry and Phoebe Ephron
DVD: May 14, 2002
20th Century Fox
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