A Lot of Hoke

Bing Crosby and Donald O'Connor in Anything Goes (1956)

Bill Benson (Bing Crosby) and Ted Adams (Donald O'Connor) find themselves paired up for a Broadway show but first they need to find a leading lady which is what they plan to do in Europe as both are heading to Paris. Trouble is that they each find themselves a leading lady, promising them the leading lady role without knowing the other has done the same and having not told the other. When they all board the boat back across the Atlantic things become messy between them as they argue which of the women they are going to have to disappoint.

Watching "Anything Goes" I wondered how this musical would have turned out if it had featured Danny Kaye instead of Donald O'Connor as O'Connor delivers the same sort of humorous side-kick performance which Kaye had delivered 2 years earlier in "White Christmas". But do you know what? I don't think "Anything Goes" would have turned out that much different as sadly this ends up a musical which goes through the motions but never really hits the right note.

Mitzi Gaynor in Anything Goes (1956)

I think the trouble with "Anything Goes" is actually two fold as on one hand all the stuff which goes on in between the various musical numbers is not over engaging and frequently comes across like waffle for the sake of waffle. And then there are the musical numbers which I know upset fans of Cole Porter due to the changes but they also did little for me as some were too jazzed up and over produced to the point of coming across like a lot of noise rather than a pleasurable experience.

The saving grace to "Anything Goes" is that Bing Crosby and Donald O'Connor deliver on their parts so Cosby does smooth and business like whilst O'Connor does comical, accident prone and as I mentioned before delivers a similar type of performance to that of Danny Kaye. But for me the chemistry between the two leading men is not there and you get a sense that at time Crosby was going through the motions having come to an end of his 25 year contract with Paramount.

What this all boils down to is that whilst "Anything Goes" ticks a lot of boxes as a musical it just doesn't quite gel and come to life. It makes it a musical which every now and then hits a sweet note but more often than not feels like it is hitting just short of the mark.

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