In The Best Things in Life Are Free, producer Henry Ephron and director Michael Curtiz went on the reasonably sound theory that, in telling the story of Tin Pan Alley's fabulous team of Buddy DeSylva, Lew Brown and Ray Henderson, all that was necessary was to fill the widescreen with a huge potpourri of their works.

In The Best Things in Life Are Free, producer Henry Ephron and director Michael Curtiz went on the reasonably sound theory that, in telling the story of Tin Pan Alley’s fabulous team of Buddy DeSylva, Lew Brown and Ray Henderson, all that was necessary was to fill the widescreen with a huge potpourri of their works.

Considering that John O’Hara wrote the story, this CinemaScope tinter leaves a few things to wish for in that department. It catches little of the Jazz Age feeling, except in its costumes and the frantic shimmy and Black Bottom numbers, and the songwriting trio barely come to life as real people.

It’s a sparkling string of hits that’s presented with all the nostalgic attention they deserve. Performances are top calibre, from Gordon MacRae’s and Dan Dailey’s pleasant crooning, to Ernest Borgnine’s clowning and Sheree North’s agile terp routines.

There are no fewer than 20 numbers in this opus. Outstanding are the big production numbers – ‘Birth of the Blues’ and ‘Black Bottom’ – choreographed by Rod Alexander. North, who has trouble with her diction in the speaking parts, is standout in the dance numbers.

1956: Nomination: Best Scoring of a Musical Picture

The Best Things in Life Are Free

Production

20th Century-Fox. Director Michael Curtiz; Producer Henry Ephron; Screenplay William Bowers, Phoebe Ephron; Camera Leon Shamroy; Editor Dorothy Spencer; Music Lionel Newman

Crew

(Color) Widescreen. Extract of a review from 1956. Running time: 104 MIN.

With

Gordon MacRae Dan Dailey Sheree North Ernest Borgnine Tommy Noonan Murvyn Vye
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