By Glenn Erickson
Big Crosby's last film for Paramount was this unexciting musical remake. Cole Porter's hit Broadway show is even more poorly served than it was in the lackluster 1936 version with Ethel Merman. Technicolor and VistaVision completely overpower Sidney Sheldon's weak screenplay, which reportedly has nothing to do with the original show. Never have so many Cole Porter standards been performed so un-memorably; they're not helped by some new Cahn-Van Heusen songs. Even the zippy title song fails to distinguish itself. The best rendering of Anything Goes is still Steven Spielberg's 1984 spoof version in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. And it was sung in Chinese.
Both Crosby and co-star Donald O'Connor play egotistical top stars paired on a new show. The story's non-problem is that both sign different performers to play the leading lady. Crosby's charm escapes him in this one as he sleepwalks through the role, while the usual standout O'Connor is also stymied by the dull script. They begin with a painfully unfunny comic act parroting O'Connor's Make 'em Laugh from
Singin' in the Rain. No chemistry results.
Further sinking this enterprise is Jeanmaire (aka Zizi Jeanmaire) a ballerina who made a couple of Hollywood films. The part calls for a nervy seductress, and the actress just doesn't fit the bill. Sheldon's script drags her down with deadening lines like ''How fortunate that I am French! ''
The only potential sparks come with the introduction of Mitzi Gaynor's lively singer and dancer. She at least has an appropriately bouncy attitude and dazzling smile. A success in London, she hasn't returned to the states because of the reluctance of her father-manager (Phil Harris) - he hides from her the fact that he's likely to be arrested for business fraud as soon as he touches down in New York.
The two story issues are resolved with just a couple of unexciting lines of dialogue. Phil Harris' problem with the law is so vague, even the government cop sent to arrest him (Walter Sande) isn't excited. Everyone else goes through the motions in a plot-less progression from one dull song to the next.
The talented Nick Castle choreographs but Paramount never had much of a commitment to musicals, and the Vistavision direction of Robert Lewis (better known as an actor) is studiously flat. There's little excitement here - the film just spools down and runs out.
Paramount's DVD of Anything Goes is for Bing Crosby purists and fans who want to see Mitzi Gaynor. As is predictable with a forgettable film Savant can't imagine seeing again, the picture and audio are practically flawless.