Cast & Crew
After a three-year run at the Knickerbocker Theatre in My Kind of Music , veteran Broadway song-and-dance man Bill Benson is convinced by his producer, Victor Lawrence, to team up with up-and-coming television variety star Ted Adams on Bill's next Broadway show. The pair does an impromptu performance at Bill's closing night party, and their new partnership is solidified, though the show still lacks a female lead. While on vacation in London, Bill sees Patsy Blair, an American performer, starring in an English musical revue. Bill is so impressed by her singing and dancing that he offers Patsy the female lead. Patsy initially turns down the role, as she lives in exile in Europe with her father Steve, a gambler, who is wanted back in the United States on tax evasion charges. Steve convinces his daughter, to take the role, however, lying to her that he has resolved his problems with the Treasury Department. Meanwhile, on his own vacation in Paris, Ted has signed Gaby Duval, a French nightclub entertainer, for the same role. When Bill joins Ted in Paris, the two partners argue over which woman will play the lead in their show. The matter remains unresolved, as all four performers set sail the next day for New York, with neither Gaby nor Patsy knowing of the existence of their theatrical rival. Things are soon further complicated, when Gaby falls in love with Bill, and Patsy with Ted. The smitten Ted quickly changes his allegiance to Patsy, and when Bill attempts to fire Gaby at dinner the next night, he becomes love-struck for the Frenchwoman. The next morning, Ted mistakenly tells Gaby that Bill had planned to fire her the night before, rather than make love to her. Feeling wronged, Gaby insists that she will remain in the show, as she has signed "an iron-clad contract." Meanwhile, Steve is arrested by Alex Todd of the U.S. Treasury Department, but convinces the government agent to release him on his own recognizance until the ship docks in New York. Learning of her father's plight, Patsy vows to dedicate herself to freeing her soon-to-be-incarcerated father. To that end, she abruptly ends her romance with Ted, feeling it would be unfair to burden him with her family problems. Overhearing the Blairs discuss Steve's predicament, Gaby then quits the show, even though Bill has decided to have it re-written with roles for both women. After Suzanne, Gaby's maid, tells Bill about her employer's sacrifice, the two men, with the help of the ship's captain, put on a musical magic act for the ship's passengers, which enables Ted to win back the heart of Patsy and Bill to reunite with Gaby. Two years later, their show, You're the Top , is still the toast of Broadway, having run long enough for the newly released Steve to see his daughter and son-in-law perform on the New York stage.
Jean Del Val
Alma Ann Holguin
Mary Ann Harmon
Nancy Lee Davis
Robert Emmett Dolan
John P. Fulton
Joseph Macmillan Johnson
Joseph J. Lilley
Johnny Van Heusen
John F. Warren
Anything Goes (1956)
Producer: Robert Emmett Dolan
Director: Robert Lewis
Screenplay: Sidney Sheldon; Guy Bolton, P.G. Wodehouse (play)
Cinematography: John F. Warren
Art Direction: Joseph MacMillan Johnson, Hal Pereira
Music: Van Cleave (uncredited)
Film Editing: Frank Bracht
Cast: Bing Crosby (Bill Benson), Donald O'Connor (Ted Adams), Jeanmaire (Gaby Duval), Mitzi Gaynor (Patsy Blair), Phil Harris (Steve Blair), Kurt Kasznar (Victor Lawrence), Richard Erdman (Ed Brent), Walter Sande (Alex Todd), Archer MacDonald (Otto), Argentina Brunetti (Suzanne).
Anything Goes (1956)
Donald O'Connor, 1925-2003
Born Donald David Dixon O' Connor in Chicago on August 28, 1925, he was raised in an atmosphere of show business. His parents were circus trapeze artists and later vaudeville entertainers, and as soon as young Donald was old enough to walk, he was performing in a variety of dance and stunt routines all across the country. Discovered by a film scout at age 11, he made his film debut with two of his brothers in Melody for Two (1937), and was singled out for a contract by Paramount Pictures. He co-starred with Bing Crosby and Fred MacMurray in Sing, You Sinners (1938) and played juvenile roles in several films, including Huckleberry Finn in Tom Sawyer - Detective (1938) and the title character as a child in Beau Geste (1939).
As O'Connor grew into adolescence, he fared pretty well as a youthful hoofer, dancing up a storm in a string of low-budget, but engaging musicals for Universal Studios (often teamed with the equally vigorous Peggy Ryan) during World War II. Titles like What's Cookin', Get Hep to Love (both 1942), Chip Off the Old Block and Strictly in the Groove (both 1943) made for some fairly innocuous entertainment, but they went a long way in displaying O'Connor's athletic dancing and boyish charm. As an adult, O'Connor struck paydirt again when he starred opposite a talking mule (with a voice supplied by Chill Wills) in the enormously popular Francis (1949). The story about an Army private who discovers that only he can communicate with a talking army mule, proved to be a very profitable hit with kids, and Universal went on to star him in several sequels.
Yet if O'Connor had to stake his claim to cinematic greatness, it would unquestionably be his daringly acrobatic, brazenly funny turn as Cosmo Brown, Gene Kelly's sidekick in the brilliant Singin' in the Rain (1952). Although his self-choreographed routine of "Make "Em Laugh" (which includes a mind-bending series of backflips off the walls) is often singled out as the highlight, in truth, his whole performance is one of the highlights of the film. His deft comic delivery of one-liners, crazy facial expressions (just watch him lampoon the diction teacher in the glorious "Moses Supposes" bit) and exhilarating dance moves (the opening "Fit As a Fiddle" number with Kelly to name just one) throughout the film are just sheer film treats in any critic's book.
After the success of Singin' in the Rain, O'Connor proved that he had enough charisma to command his first starring vehicle, opposite Debbie Reynolds, in the cute musical I Love Melvin (1953). He also found good parts in Call Me Madam (1953), There's No Business Like Show Business (1954), and Anything Goes (1956). Unfortunately, his one attempt at a strong dramatic role, the lead in the weak biopic The Buster Keaton Story (1957) proved to be misstep, and he was panned by the critics.
By the '60s, the popularity of musicals had faded, and O'Connor spent the next several years supporting himself with many dinner theater and nightclub appearances; but just when it looked like we wouldn't see O'Connor's talent shine again on the small or big screen, he found himself in demand at the dawn of the '90s in a string of TV appearances: Murder She Wrote, Tales From the Crypt, Fraser, The Nanny; and movies: Robin Williams' toy-manufacturer father in Toys (1992), a fellow passenger in the Lemmon-Matthau comedy, Out to Sea (1997), that were as welcoming as they were heartening. Survivors include his wife, Gloria; four children, Alicia, Donna, Fred and Kevin; and four grandchildren.
by Michael T. Toole
Donald O'Connor, 1925-2003
Anything Goes marked Bing Crosby's final film for Paramount Pictures, the studio at which he had been under contract for twenty-two years. According to modern sources, Paramount, faced with competition from television, decided to drop their high-priced contract players and opted to sign their stars on a picture-by-picture basis. Prior to Anything Goes, Crosby and Donald O'Connor had appeared together in the 1938 Paramount film Sing You Sinners (see entry in AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40). O'Connor and Mitzi Gaynor appeared together in the 1954 Twentieth Century-Fox film There's No Business Like Show Business . According to Daily Variety, Anything Goes was Gaynor's first film after the conclusion of her contract with Twentieth Century-Fox.
Anything Goes also marked the feature length film directorial debut of Robert Lewis, although he had directed one segment of the 1946 M-G-M picture Ziegfeld Follies (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films; 1941-50) and served as a dialogue director for Twentieth Century-Fox in the early 1940s. French ballerina Jeanmaire and choreographer Roland Petit were married in Paris just prior to working together on this film, according to Hollywood Reporter. In April 1955, Hollywood Reporter mistakenly reported that Phil Harris had been cast in Anything Goes in the role of Crosby's Broadway producer. That role was performed by Kurt Kasznar; Harris appeared as Gaynor's father, "Steve Blair."
A January 1954 Daily Variety news item states that Edmund Hartmann was originally slated to write the screenplay for Anything Goes. It has not been determined, however, if Hartmann actually worked on the film or made any contribution to the script's final construction. According to information found in the file on the film at the AMPAS Library, in May 1955, writer Sidney Sheldon contested the "screenplay by" credit he was tentatively set to receive from Paramount. On June 17, 1955, Paramount agreed to the writer's request for an additional "screen story" credit as well. Hollywood Reporter news items include Paul De Rolf, Fran Lansing, Johnstone White, Dennis Habicht, Gary Hunley, Terry Ragno, Connie Bowden, Nancy De Carl, Vivien Price, Cathy Bisutti, Michelle DuCasse, Patty Gerrity, Donna Bowden, Judy Lee Hunley, Billy Street and Nick Castle, Jr. in the cast, but their appearance in the released film has not been confirmed.
Crosby had also starred in Paramount's 1936 adaptation of the musical play Anything Goes, directed by Lewis Milestone and co-starring Ethel Merman, who had appeared in the original Broadway production. For a detailed history on the authorship of the play, please see the entry for the 1936 picture in AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40. There were also two television adaptations of the play Anything Goes: in October 1950, NBC produced a version for its Musical Comedy Time program, starring Martha Raye and John Conte, and directed by Richard H. Berger; then, in March 1954, Ethel Merman reprised her Broadway role for The Colgate Comedy Hour, with Frank Sinatra and Bert Lahr performing the roles originated on the New York stage by William Gaxton and Victor Moore.
Released in United States Spring April 1956
Released in United States Spring April 1956