Anything Goes (Paramount). Actually, a lot of people beside Cole Porter had a hand in this screen version of last year's No. 1 Broadway musicomedy, but somehow it all adds up to a Cole Porter lyric cast in celluloid, with involved metaphors and polysyllabic rhymes translated into comedy antics and plot convolutions, and set to impudent, lighthearted music. Some of it is music worn thin by 1935's dancing slippers, but some good new ones have been added: Sailor Beware, Moonburn, My Heart and I.
Bing Crosby stows away on a liner out of sympathy for Ida Lupino, a girl he meets in a night club, who has been kidnapped by gangsters hired by Arthur Treacher to take her back to England where she is supposed to marry someone. G-men arrest a bishop because they have heard that Charles Ruggles, Public Enemy No. 13, who is dissatisfied with his number and waiting for "the new ranking to come out," is traveling aboard the same ship as a cleric. Ruggles makes himself useful stealing clothes for Stowaway Crosby but rouses suspicion when he uses his machine gun to win a trapshooting contest. Since the passport Ruggles has loaned Crosby belonged to Public Enemy No. 1, wanted for electrocution, Crosby has to have a beard, which he obtains by clipping a Pomeranian. Something about him after that makes him of interest to all the dogs on board, including a huge hound which licks off the beard. Also aboard is Ethel Merman, who sings the same songs she sang in the stage show and denounces Crosby for leading her on: "You never even laid a hand on me, and I'm not used to having men treat me like that."
Critics looking for significance in Anything Goes might write it off as part of the cinema's campaign to cosmopolitanize its audiences. From an entertainment point of view it is rapid, hilarious, and competently directed by Lewis Milestone, whose penchant for playing with trick camera angles probably produces more results with less cost in a musical than in any other form of cinematography.
Collegiate (Paramount) is an up-to-date adaptation of Alice Duer Miller's The Charm School, which Wallace Reid made as a silent picture in 1921. It is a revealing commentary on the progress of cinematic fashions that the principal figure in the current version is a personage as unlike Matinee Idol Reid as it would be possible to find: Pantaloon Joe Penner, whose alarming ability to simulate the appearance and behavior of a congenital idiot has rapidly made him one of Hollywood's most admired comedians.
In Collegiate, Playboy Joe Craig (Jack Oakie), his press-agent (Ned Sparks) and his right-hand man (Lynne Overman) are dismayed when Craig's aunt wills him a young ladies' seminary. The plot takes its expected course when Craig, after hitchhiking to the school, turns it into a combined singing & dancing academy, with the aid of Mack Gordon and Harry Revel, who wrote the songs they play in the picture, Frances Langford, as a secretary who falls in love with Craig, and an enticing quorum of Paramount chorus girls. All this is pleasantly written and brightly played, but whether cinemaddicts will enjoy the picture will depend essentially on their feeling about Joe Penner.