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There's No Business Like Show Business (film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Irving Berlin's There's No Business Like Show Business
There's No Business Like Show Business movie poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byWalter Lang
Screenplay by
Story byLamar Trotti
Produced bySol C. Siegel
CinematographyLeon Shamroy
Edited byRobert Simpson
Music byIrving Berlin
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
  • December 16, 1954 (1954-12-16) (New York City premiere)
Running time
117 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$4.3 million[1]
Box office$5.1 million[2]

Irving Berlin's There's No Business Like Show Business is a 1954 American musical comedy-drama film directed by Walter Lang. It stars an ensemble cast, consisting of Ethel Merman, Donald O'Connor, Marilyn Monroe, Dan Dailey, Johnnie Ray, and Mitzi Gaynor.

The title is borrowed from the famous song in the stage musical (and MGM film) Annie Get Your Gun. The screenplay was written by Phoebe Ephron and Henry Ephron, based on a story by Lamar Trotti;[3] and the movie was Fox's first musical in CinemaScope and DeLuxe Color.[4]

O'Connor later called the film the best picture he ever made.[5]


Ethel Merman as Molly
Ethel Merman as Molly
Mitzi Gaynor as Katy
Mitzi Gaynor as Katy

The story opens in 1919 and chronicles the ups and downs in the careers of Terence and Molly Donahue, a husband-and-wife vaudeville team. Throughout the years, the Donahues reconcile a stable family life with professional success. Their children, Steve, Katy, and Tim, join the act one by one, and they eventually become known as The Five Donahues. However, as the children mature, they answer other callings. Steve, for example, enrolls in a Catholic seminary for training as a priest. Later, Tim falls in love with a successful performer, Vicky Parker, and he and sister Katy consent to join her act as supporting players. However, Tim and Vicky experience a falling out, and he abandons the act. Despite efforts by the family to locate him, Tim's whereabouts remain a mystery.

Meanwhile, Katy begins dating Charlie Gibbs, the show's tall and spare lyricist, and they are eventually married—in a ceremony ministered by Steve who has just been ordained a priest. Thus, the Five Donahues are no more, until months later at a benefit on the closing night of the famed Hippodrome Theatre in New York. As Molly sings the film's title song for the sellout crowd, Steve arrives backstage unexpectedly, followed by Tim, in the uniform of a U.S. sailor. There, he reconciles with Vicky and his family, and for the first time in years, the Five Donahues reunite for the film's elaborate finale.



All songs written by Irving Berlin.[6]

Song Performer(s)[7] Note(s)
"When the Midnight Choo-Choo Leaves for Alabam'" Sung by Ethel Merman and Dan Dailey Later performed by Mitzi Gaynor and Donald O'Connor
"Play a Simple Melody" Sung by Ethel Merman and Dan Dailey
"A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody" Sung by Ethel Merman with Dan Dailey
Danced by Dan Dailey
"You'd Be Surprised" Dan Dailey
"Let's Have Another Cup of Coffee" Sung by Ethel Merman
"Alexander's Ragtime Band" The cast Later sung by Ethel Merman, Dan Dailey, Donald O'Connor, Mitzi Gaynor and Johnnie Ray
"Puttin' On the Ritz" Instrumental performed by the nightclub orchestra
"After You Get What You Want You Don't Want It" Marilyn Monroe
"Remember" Sung by the cast Later sung by Ethel Merman and Dan Dailey
"If You Believe" Sung by Johnnie Ray
"Heat Wave" Marilyn Monroe
"A Man Chases a Girl (Until She Catches Him)" Sung by Donald O'Connor and Marilyn Monroe
Danced by Donald O'Connor
"Lazy" Marilyn Monroe, Mitzi Gaynor and Donald O'Connor
"A Sailor's Not a Sailor ('Til a Sailor's Been Tattooed)" Sung by Ethel Merman and Mitzi Gaynor
"Marie" Performed by an uncredited male trio on a nightclub's stage when the family is searching for Tim
"There's No Business Like Show Business" Ethel Merman Later sung by the cast


In the months prior to the filming of the movie, Marilyn Monroe had been placed on suspension from 20th Century-Fox after refusing to accept the leading role in a film version of a Broadway musical titled The Girl in Pink Tights. During her suspension, she married baseball star Joe DiMaggio and the two honeymooned in Japan, during which time she entertained American soldiers in Korea. Fox had intended to cast Sheree North in There's No Business Like Show Business, going so far as to screen-test North in Monroe's own studio wardrobe. When Monroe returned to California, her Fox suspension was lifted, and studio executives offered her a role in the ensemble cast of There's No Business Like Show Business as a replacement project for having refused to make Pink Tights. Monroe initially refused to make There's No Business Like Show Business just as she had for the previous project until Fox assured her that her next vehicle would be The Seven Year Itch.[8] She also demanded a pay increase of $3,000 a week.

Ethel Merman had first sung "There's No Business Like Show Business" in the original Broadway production of Annie Get Your Gun in 1946 and would go on to sing it again in the 1967 television broadcast of the subsequent Lincoln Center revival of that musical comedy.[9]

Release and reception

To publicize the film, Monroe wore a black cotton polka-dot swimsuit. It went on auction at Christie's in London in 1991 and sold for $22,400 to collector David Gainsborough Roberts.[10]

Despite boasting a lavish production, Irving Berlin's There's No Business Like Show Business eventually became both a critical and box office failure.

Ed Sullivan described Monroe's performance of the song "Heat Wave" as "one of the most flagrant violations of good taste" he had witnessed.[11] Time magazine compared her unfavorably to co-star Ethel Merman. Bosley Crowther in The New York Times called the film a "major success" in a generally favorable review, praising in particular Donald O'Connor's performance, but said that Mitzi Gaynor had surpassed Monroe's "wriggling and squirming" which were "embarrassing to behold."[12] Donald O'Connor drew unfavorable reviews for his "over-acting" and "uncanny flirting" with Monroe on-screen. Dan Dailey and Johnnie Ray favored better among critics, although reviewers stated their performances were "below average".

The film's budget was $4,340,000.[1] Excessive at the time for a movie filmed entirely on a studio lot in Los Angeles, the expenses were mainly due to delays in production, the lavish musical numbers and a running time that was at least 15 minutes longer than most other Hollywood musicals. Because the film made just $5,103,555 at the box office,[2] 20th Century Fox officials were disappointed.

According to records, Fox was expecting a profit of $2 million, but ran a loss of almost $950,000. It is also significant that Johnnie Ray never worked again for 20th Century Fox or appeared in another motion picture made by any major movie studio in the United States or another country, though his music developed a stronger following overseas than in the United States.

The film's TV premiere occurred October 28, 1961, on NBC's ground-breaking movie anthology series, Saturday Night at the Movies, in a pan-and-scan version to match the square, small-screen design of televisions manufactured at the time. Later syndicated broadcasts on local television stations were unkind to the legacy of There's No Business Like Show Business because it warranted a time slot of at least two-and-one-half hours, including commercials, and also because of the lack of letterboxing during that era. Every CinemaScope movie lost much of its appeal when shown on television in the 1960s and 1970s, even if it was in black-and-white, but There's No Business Like Show Business was hit especially hard because of cinematographer Leon Shamroy’s placement of at least two members of the ensemble cast on the wide screen in every frame as they hit a lot of marks on the soundstage. The several dance sequences with at least three cast members were compromised by the pan-and-scan process.

The movie’s release to the home video market in the early 1990s solved the problem of commercial interruptions and improved its profits and reputation considerably. The issue of the aspect ratio of CinemaScope remained, however. A DVD release in 2001 included letterboxing and 4-channel surround sound, thereby eliminating the bad aspect ratio and introducing the movie to younger generations. It has received favorable reviews from critics and fans.

Awards and honors

Date of ceremony Award Category Recipients and nominees Result
February 25, 1955[13] Writers Guild of America Awards Best Written Musical Phoebe Ephron, Henry Ephron Nominated
March 30, 1955[14]
Academy Awards Best Original Score – Musical Alfred Newman, Lionel Newman Nominated
Best Story Lamar Trotti
(posthumous nomination)
Best Costume Design – Color Charles LeMaire, Travilla, Miles White Nominated

The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:


  1. ^ a b Solomon, Aubrey (2002). Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History. The Scarecrow Filmmakers Series. 20. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press. p. 248. ISBN 9780810842441. Retrieved November 6, 2014.
  2. ^ a b Cohn, Lawrence (October 15, 1990). "All-Time Film Rental Champs". Variety. pp. M140–M196.
  3. ^ "There's No Business Like Show Business (1954): Full Cast & Crew – Writing Credits". IMDb. Retrieved November 6, 2014.
  4. ^ "There's No Business Like Show Business (1955): Overview – Synopsis". AllMovie. Retrieved November 6, 2014.
  5. ^ Aloff, Mindy (October 13, 2003) [1979]. "Remembering a Hoofer: An Interview with Donald O'Connor". The DanceView Times. Retrieved November 10, 2018.
  6. ^ "There's No Business Like Show Business (1954): Soundtracks". IMDb. Retrieved November 7, 2014.
  7. ^ Vogel, Michelle (2014). Marilyn Monroe: Her Films, Her Life. McFarland. p. 105. ISBN 9780786470860.
  8. ^ "There's No Business Like Show Business (1954):Trivia #4". IMDb. Retrieved November 6, 2014.
  9. ^ "There's No Business Like Show Business (1954): Trivia #7". IMDb. Retrieved November 6, 2014.
  10. ^ The Hollywood Reporter. 317. Indiana University: Wilkerson Daily Corporation. 1991. p. 3. Retrieved November 6, 2014.
  11. ^ Harding, Les (2012). They Knew Marilyn Monroe: Famous Persons in the Life of the Hollywood Icon. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company. p. 146. ISBN 9780786466375. Retrieved November 6, 2014.
  12. ^ Crowther, Bosley (December 17, 1954). "There s No Business Like Show Business (1954): There's No Business,' Etc.; And Musical at the Roxy Sets Out to Prove It". The New York Times. New York: New York Media. Retrieved November 6, 2014.
  13. ^ "Writers Guild of America, USA: Awards for 1955 – Best Written American Musical: Nominees". IMDb. Retrieved November 11, 2014.
  14. ^ "Oscars Ceremonies: The 27th Academy Awards – 1955: Winners & Nominees". Oscars. Retrieved November 11, 2014.
  15. ^ "AFI's Greatest Movie Musicals Nominees" (PDF). American Film Institute. Retrieved August 13, 2016.

External links

This page was last edited on 31 July 2021, at 07:02
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