Entertainment » Television

Anything Goes

by Phil Hall
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday Mar 29, 2011
Anything Goes

This 1954 production of Anything Goes, which was broadcast live on NBC's "Colgate Comedy Hour," offers a severely abbreviated and drastically reconfigured version of the celebrated Cole Porter musical comedy. But the talent selling it justifies the drastic liberties taken to the material: Ethel Merman (recreating her classic Broadway role), Frank Sinatra (riding his comeback trail) and Bert Lahr (in another role that reminds us there was more to his versatility than being able to wear a lion costume).

Actually, the scissoring of the show's book helps to speed past the silly plot of mistaken identities and romantic miscommunications during an ocean voyage. Switching the story from the 1930s to the 1920s enables a wealth of Jazz Age-worthy choreography, with sexy Broadway chorine Sheree North front-and-center among the Charleston kickers.

A peak Merman belting out the champagne score in her distinctive steamroller style: her offerings of the title tune,

What remains, thankfully, is a peak Merman belting out the champagne score in her distinctive steamroller style: her offerings of the title tune, "I Get a Kick Out of You" and especially "Blow, Gabriel, Blow" are pure showstoppers. Merman enjoys a raucous duet with Lahr on "Friendship" (borrowed from Porter's "DuBarry was a Lady") and has a playful romantic romp with Sinatra on "You're the Top" (the pair can barely keep from cracking each other up). Ol' Blue Eyes, who often seemed ill at ease on television, was wonderfully calm and genuinely funny in this show, and his rendition of "It Was Just One of Those Things" was pure tonic.

Since this was live television, the production ends with a funny gaffe - the show ran several minutes short, and the cast stretches their screen time with an unexpected reprise of the title tune. This unscripted number is a jolly sendoff for a delicious vintage voyage.

Anything Goes
DVD
$29.98
http://www.eonetv.com/

Phil Hall is the author of "The Greatest Bad Movies of All Time


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