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Sunday, February 19, 2012

ANYTHING GOES (1954)

The goofball plot that supports Cole Porter’s great score in ANYTHING GOES is sturdier than it’s usually given credit for. Boy Chases Engaged Girl. (Right onto an ocean liner!) Boy tells all to the Lovesick Evangelist who’s also sailing. Evangelist swallows her pride & helps Boy Get Girl. All under the watchful eye of harmless Public Enemy #13, who’s disguised as a minister! (Don’t ask.) A hit on B’way in ‘34; ‘87 & ‘11 (see Playbills), it died on-screen in ‘36; ‘54 & ’56. The B’way revivals largely kept the book & songs intact; the films & this tv version threw out three-fourths of the music, plot & characters. Hmm. Wonder why they suck? This one at least sounds like fun. It’s got Ethel Merman from the original production & the first film; plus Bert Lahr who co-starred with the Merm in Cole Porter’s DUBARRY WAS A LADY; even Frank Sinatra as the guy. In this chopped up version, Boy Gets Evangelist . . . and that’s about it. They cut out so much, the measly 53 minute broadcast runs five minutes short! So, they ad-lib a fourth (4th!) reprise of the title tune. (And just when we’d gotten that horrible musical arrangement out of our heads.) Oh well, try spotting the bowdlerizations of Porter’s lyrics: ‘Perfume from Spain’ in for ‘Cocaine’; ‘2-letter words’ instead of ‘4-letter words.' Or you could focus on what the fierce lighting & crude camera lenses do to Sinatra’s skin tone. Ah, the Golden Age of Television.

WATCH THIS, NOT THAT: Cole Porter had much better luck in ‘58 when Hallmark hired much of the original B’way cast for a 90-minute production of KISS ME KATE that beat the pants off M-G-M‘s big screen version.

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