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The show was done live but kinescopes were made and were circulated among collectors in poor condition for many years. After Merman's death, a relative called theatre writer Stephen Cole and said she found Merman's original kinescope print. Its from this print that eOne - and the Archive of American Television produced this DVD. Its in pristine condition!
Like many versions of the musical, other Porter songs are inserted into this production. At least eight full-length versions of "I Get a Kick out of you", "You Do Something to me", "All Through the Night" and the wonderful "Blow Gabriel Blow" are here in addition to two versions of the title song. When Lahr was asked to join the cast, he insisted that he and Merman reprise their duet - "Friendship" from their run of DuBarry Was A Lady. It's wonderful! As you will hear in the "bonus interview" with the show's musical arranger - Buddy Bregman (who was Styne's nephew) - Lahr often flubbed his lines. Look out for when he refers to Merman's character as "Annie Oakley" (when her character is Miss Oakley.).
The show is presented here with the commercials deleted, so it only runs 47 minutes. When the show originally aired the director thought that it might run "over" so they cut one song. The cast found themselves with four minutes to fill at the end, so we get an impromptu encore!Read more ›
But, for fans of the play, this version has been chopped and clipped and cut and sewn into something that barely even resembles "Anything Goes." It's a shame that, with each of the versions of the Cole Porter classic, there has yet to be a filmed version of the actual play with the intended songs and dances.
Frank Sinatra sings pleasantly - though his being the love interest of Merman - easily 25+ years his senior - is a little ridiculous. Sheree North as the gangster's moll does a very credible job in another role that has been cut up and blue penciled into oblivion. Bert Lahr is Bert Lahr - yes, that means very funny and very professional.
I'm giving this production three ''s. Really, just one star for the production as a whole. But, it is definitely worth seeing for Ethel Merman's performance. There is nothing like seeing Ethel face forward, plant her feet, and belt to the balcony! She's a real theatrical legend and deserves to be seen.
What a joy to watch this after all those years of having this great show locked away in the vault. Sure it's before my time and probably yours, too, but I found it really enjoyable, at least knowing about all the major performers.
The original commercials are quite interesting, too. I highly recommend AG for everyone!
The plot and dialog are radically different from the Broadway original, though there are some common points: it's still a shipboard comedy, Merman again plays a nightclub singer named Reno Sweeney, and there's still a comical gangster named Moonface (played beautifully by Bert Lahr) and a pompous nobleman named Lord Evelyn. But the script was largely new for this TV version.
It's a great cast and the program is fun, as long as you're not expecting the Broadway show. One highlight for theater buffs: Merman and Lahr singing "Friendship," which they originally introduced together in another Porter musical in the 1930s.
The picture and audio quality on this DVD release are a pleasant surprise: they're much clearer than any of the earlier video releases I've seen of this live broadcast.
hit songs are used, bolstered by other Porter numbers. Frank Sinatra's
stylings don't really suit a story musical, and somehow Bert Lahr, though
well cast, doesn't really land. The rest of the production is cramped on
small sets. But this really is an Ethel Merman showcase--she gets solo
star billing even over Sinatra--and it is a very valuable preservation
of what Merman was like on stage. Her movies, after all, are films, which
call for a different performing style than Broadway demanded, smaller in
scale, more "realistic." But this Anything Goes is a staging, performed
live before an audience. It's as close to seeing Merman in the theatre,
her true haunt, as one can get today.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Terrible film quality, and Frank Sinatra & Ethel Merman as lovers is laughable. The casting was terrible. Read morePublished 11 days ago by K. L. Hanson
Very low quality old TV video... didn't watch beyond credits.Published 1 month ago by Robert A. Frederick
It's recorded from a live, black and white television show and the quality of the picture and sound are poor. That, and it's broken up by 1950's style commercials. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Michael David Fels
Saw the musical and fell in love with it. Bought this for my wife, and it stinks. I have no idea how Ethel Merman became so famous... Read morePublished 4 months ago by divrdrew
This is a fun piece of Television History. Cole Porter songs are always great. Of course, the fact that it's a television stage production takes away a little bit, but it also... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Roger Ashton