The Best Things in Life Are Free
Time Out saysOne of the very best of the musical biopics (of the DeSylva/Henderson/Brown songwriting team): a strangely neglected film, perhaps because the superb string of numbers are mostly 'thrown away' on delightfully modest, off-the-cuff renditions, either by Sheree North or by the songwriters themselves (with Borgnine keeping his end up admirably). The two big production numbers are gems: 'Black Bottom' done as a spirited gangster movie parody, and 'Birth of the Blues' as a brilliantly evocative, mostly all-black mood piece. Even the plot is livelier than usual, centering on DeSylva's defection from the team to try his hand as a Hollywood producer. A lot can be forgiven, in any case, for its maliciously illustrated anecdote about how the trio, regally ordered to write a song for Al Jolson (who wasn't above neglecting to pay), concocted one so trashily treacly that nobody could sing it. Jolson was thrilled. The song: 'Sonny Boy'.