Top positive review
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Dazzling Production and Masterful Show Tunes Make This A Favorite
on December 4, 2007
I love musicals and this one has been a favorite since it first came out in 1954. I was thrilled to receive the DVD and even more thrilled to find that the songs and dances were still as wonderful as I remembered, the production numbers still as splendid, and the total show as remarkable as ever.
Dan Dailey and Ethel Merman are Terry and Molly Donahue, vaudeville performers circa 1919 when the movie opens. They quickly add children Steve (Johnnie Ray) Katy (Mitzi Gaynor) and Tim (Donald O'Connor) to the act as each child is old enough to wobble on stage. They become the successful act known as The Five Donahues and tour constantly even as vaudeville dies away. When their paths cross with an ambitious blonde named Vicky (Marilyn Monroe) things are never the same. She breaks Tim's heart and he spirals downward into an alcoholic haze, son Steve leaves the act when he decides to become a priest, and Broadway replaces vaudeville as the elder Donahues spend less time on stage and more time in their New Jersey home. The ending always leaves me dissolved in tears, but it is the lavish production numbers that make this a favorite. From the catchy opening of Merman and Dailey performing "When That Midnight Choo-Choo Leaves for Alabam'" (later reprised by Gaynor and O'Connor) to the lavish staging of "Alexander's Ragtime Band" and the uplifting closing of the title song, this movie is a feast for fans of music and dance. Even though Marilyn Monroe shines in her sexy "Heat Wave" number, the long-legged Dailey makes dancing an effortless joy throughout and Merman's voice is uncommonly rich, it is Donald O'Connor and Mitzi Gaynor who enthusiastically dance their way into your heart and steal every scene they are in.