Newest Reviews
G.G. Passion
Chien Andalou, Un
Bulldog Drummond
First Man
Machete Maidens Unleashed!
Cannibal Club, The
Grasshopper, The
Human Desire
Stiff Upper Lips
American Animals
World on a Wire
Velvet Buzzsaw
Dick Dickman, PI
Hunter Killer
30 Foot Bride of Candy Rock, The
Race for the Yankee Zephyr
Boys in the Band, The
Evening with Beverly Luff Linn, An
Fear No Evil
Newest Articles
He-Maniacs: Ridiculous 80s Action
All's Welles That Ends Welles: Orson Welles Great Mysteries Volume 1 on DVD
Shut It! The Sweeney Double Bill: Two Blu-rays from Network
Network Sitcom Movie Double Bill: Till Death Us Do Part and Man About the House on Blu-ray
No, THIS Must Be the Place: True Stories on Blu-ray
Alf Garnett's Life After Death: Till Death... and The Thoughts of Chairman Alf on DVD
Balance of Power: Harold Pinter at the BBC on DVD
Strange Days 2: The Second Science Fiction Weirdness Wave
Strange Days: When Science Fiction Went Weird
Ha Ha Haaargh: Interview With Camp Death III in 2D! Director Matt Frame
Phone Freak: When a Stranger Calls on Blu-ray
A Name to Conjure With: David Nixon's Magic Box on DVD
Which 1950s Sci-Fi was Scariest? Invaders from Mars vs The Blob
The Empire Strikes Back: Khartoum vs Carry On Up the Khyber
Stan and Ollie's Final Folly: Atoll K on Blu-ray
  There's No Business Like Show Business Like No Business I KnowBuy this film here.
Year: 1954
Director: Walter Lang
Stars: Ethel Merman, Donald O'Connor, Marilyn Monroe, Dan Dailey, Johnnie Ray, Mitzi Gaynor, Richard Eastham, Hugh O'Brian, Frank McHugh, Rhys Williams, Lee Patrick, Eve Miller, Robin Raymond
Genre: Musical, Comedy, Drama
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: The Donahues, Molly (Ethel Merman) and Terence (Dan Dailey), were a vaudeville act for decades, and had started out as a successful husband and wife team in the 1910s. As time went on, their act increased by three, and their children would appear alongside them onstage but after a few years of dragging them around railway stations the couple decided to send them to school. They didn't get on too well, though, they were fine students, it's just that they wanted to be in show business with their parents, and by and by they were, creating an act known as The Five Donhaues...

This unimaginatively Cinemascoped family drama was designed to showcase as many Irving Berlin songs as they could possibly pack into its two hour running time, and in that respect it was very successful. However, in spite of the quality of the tunes somehow this is not thought of as one of the all time classic musicals of its day, as while there are highlights the story is pure soap opera and the numbers are frankly vulgar. Look at the "Alexander's Ragtime Band" sequence which introduces the family, mounting the song on a succession of stagings that represent some nations of the world.

You haven't seen anything till you've heard Donald O'Connor, as wayward son Tim, adopting a Scottish accent to put a Highland fling on Berlin's venerable song, which is every bit as ghastly as it sounds. And this is a pattern that continues throughout, with the drama enlived with the odd comic line and a lot of sentimentality as you would expect, but the musical setpieces among the tackiest of the fifties. Ethel Merman was always an acquired taste as one of the loudest singers of all time and you don't forget that here, but seeing her belting out the tattoo song with Mitzi Gaynor (as daughter Katy), complete with sailor suits and sideburns (!) is an image many could have done without.

I haven't mentioned the biggest star here, and she plays the brash Tim's love interest Vicky Parker: Marilyn Monroe. Her big number is no less over the top than the others, but has gone down as one of her better ones, and it's "Heatwave" which she performs in a bikini while surrounded by supposedly Mexican dancers; it's still gaudy, but Monroe sells it. Vicky was a role written especially for her, which explains why she seems crowbarred into the plot in what is essentially a beefed up supporting part, and the scenes where she is romanced by Tim have you feeling total sympathy for Vicky as O'Connor is forced to play him as a wisecracking womaniser and you grow tired of him pretty quickly.

And yet, it all builds up to a reconciliation that is surprisingly affecting, though not after we have to sit through the ups and downs of the Donahues. This includes the older son, Steve, as essayed by the legendarily troubled crooner Johnnie Ray in what was his only film role of any note, who enters the priesthood. He never quite explains why, but the way Ray interprets the role we can assume it was because he was gay; anyway, piling on the turmoil is what this film is all about - well, other than offering up some blaring showtunes - and there's no bigger turmoil than Tim. He is obviously an alcoholic, and after breaking the hearts of his family and Vicky he goes missing on opening night, no less. Even the most cynical viewer will be moved by what happens at the end, yet it will also have you wishing the rest of the film had been of this quality. Or perhaps by this time the movie has beaten you into submission.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


This review has been viewed 2102 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star do you think makes the best coffee?
Emma Stone
Anna Kendrick
Michelle Rodriguez
Sir Patrick Stewart

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
George White
Enoch Sneed
Stately Wayne Manor
Paul Smith
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Aseels Almasi


Last Updated: