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Click above to purchase "There's No Business Like Show Business" at amazon.com

 

There's No Business Like Show Business

review by Zach B. and Anthony D.

 

Not Rated

Studio: Fox

Running Time: 118 minutes

Starring Ethel Merman, Donald O'Connor, Marilyn Monroe, Dan Dailey, Johnnie Ray, Mitzi Gaynor

Screenplay by Phoebe and Henry Ephron
Story by Lamar Trotti

Directed by Walter Lang

Retail Price: $24.98

Features: Restoration Comaprison, One Sheet Gallery, Theatrical Trailers

Specs: 2.55:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby 4.0 Surround, English Stereo, English Closed Captions, English Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, Chapter Search (28 Chapters)

Question: What do you get when you enlist the talents of the world's greatest songwriter, the world's greatest belter, the world's greatest known symbol of sex, two of the world's best hoofers, one of the fifties' greatest crooners, two of the greatest gams ever to dance across a Cinemascope landscape and the greatest theatrical anthem ever written? If you answered. "The greatest musical film of all time," boy would you be wrong. If you answered "There's No Business Like Show Business," then you must be one of the cult followers of this gaudy, glitzy and all-the-way-over-the-top musical extravaganza. Either that, or you had nothing better to do on a Saturday night when AMC was broadcasting this 1954 dinosaur ad nauseum. Or, you're the lucky owner of this entry in Fox's Marilyn Monroe Diamond Collection. But, getting back to the initial question, let's tackle this film piece by piece.

Irving Berlin is represented by fourteen classic Tin Pan Alley songs, as well as the title tune made famous by Ethel Merman in the Broadway musical "Annie Get Your Gun." In recompense for losing the film role, twice, to both Judy Garland and Betty Hutton, Fox created a film role for The Merm, teaming her with Marilyn Monroe. The mind boggles, but wait, there's more. Dan Dailey and Donald O'Connor are dancing fools as Merman's husband and son, respectively. Johnnie Ray is Merman's other son, and Mitzi Gaynor is her daughter. And you know, Merman doesn't age a day through the course of the film! "There's No Business Like Show Business" is a travelogue of theater music, starting in the glory days of vaudeville, and following the careers of The Donahues, first two vaudevillians, then three and as Merman gives birth over and over, finally The Five Donahues. Toss the sultriest performance by Marilyn Monroe into the mix - - she's the object of Donald O'Connor's affection, and the object of Merman's disdain - - whether draped in a shimmering, sheer gown singing "After You Get What You Want, You Don't Want It" or striking up a tropical "Heat Wave" in a costume that surely had the censors on the edge of their seats, and you've got the film's chief selling point. Marilyn is at the top of her powers, but, is constantly overshadowed by the other performers. Pity poor Marilyn when the choreography of "Lazy" showcases Mitzi Gaynor and Donald O'Connor - - her back-up dancers! Or even when Johnny Ray (most definitely an acquired taste) belts out a gospel-inflected "If You Believe" so close to Marilyn's stunning "After You Get..." By the time that Marilyn launches into "Heat Wave," easily the film's highlight, there's nothing left for director Walter Lang to top that off with, except the finale. Hundreds upon hundreds of dancers and singers belting "There's No Business Like Show Business" over and over and over as the principals are placed on a rising pedestal in the midst of the gargantuan production number.

Forget plot, characterization, conflict - - well, there is a conflict: will Johnny Ray's Steve Donahue choose the church over show business, but that's patly resolved in the blink of an eye - - or any of those things normally associated with script-writing. This is the cockeyed world of 20th Century Fox musical film - - and what better representation of musical conventions than that powerhouse known as Ethel Merman? Is there a better representation of the entire decade of sexuality than the force of nature that was Marilyn Monroe? Is there a more extravagant exercise of glitzy gaudiness in which the sum of all parts is far, far greater than the whole shebang? Constantly dazzling to the eye and ear, "There's No Business Like Show Business" is not one of the greatest musical films of all time, nor is it the worst.

Though the box says 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, "There's No Business Like Show Business" is presented in 2.55:1 anamorphic widescreen. This is yet another great Monroe Fox restoration that impressed me. Color saturation and fleshtones look natual and come across pretty bold. Detail and black levels are great and I noticed some grain here and there. Very impressive indeed.

The English Dolby 4.0 Surround is excellent. This is a great remix and for a film that features a lot of music, it's really brought to life nicely. There's good surround use and creative mixing. Tiny sounds sound natural and excellent, and it just gets better as the movie goes along. Great remix. English Stereo is also included on another track and English closed captions, English subtitles and Spanish subtitles.

Two Theatrical Trailers (both anamorphic) are included as well as a Portuguese Theatrical Trailer. Plus, the Diamond Collection section houses trailers for other Monroe films.

The box doesn't list a One Sheet Gallery or a really good Restoration Comparison (where the introduction says the film was the best one in shape of all the Monroe films).

Packed with some great musical numbers, this DVD for "There's No Business Like Show Business" gets the job done. A great presentation wih decent extras, if you liked this movie, then you'll be happy.

(2.5/5 - NOT included in final score)

(4.5/5)

(3.5/5)

(2/5)

(3.5/5, NOT an average)

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