Yes, this was Bing's last film for Paramount, after nearly 25 years. It was also Don's last Hollywood musical, after about 15 years of musicals for several studios. Mitzi would have only 2 more Hollywood musicals: the much inferior Cole Porter effort in "Les Girls", and her most famous role, in "South Pacific". I prefer her 2 roles with Don O'Connor as her main male costar: this one and the prior "There's No Business Like Show Business". Their film relationship differed in the two: lovers in this one, and brother and sister in the other. In any case, they got to do a number or so together, as well as their own number(s). Although Don spent most of his Hollywood years signed with Universal, not exactly known for its high profile musicals, he was included in a Crosby film back in '38, when he was only 13. He was slated to be reunited with Bing in the '54 "White Christmas", but had to bow out due to a last minute illness, being replaced by Danny Kaye. Thus, his inclusion as Bing's male costar in the present production might be seen as a consolation prize for missing out on "White Christmas". Released on the 20th anniversary of the first "Anything Goes" film, starring Bing and Ethel Merman.
The film does start out slow, with backstage talk. But, pretty soon, Bing and Don are on stage to do a vaudeville-like song and dance routine to the vaudevillian-styled "Ya Gotta Give the People Hoke(m)". The last part of this routine involves Bing and Don alternatively appearing on stage in a variety of bizarre get ups, for just a few seconds each. Again, this is a vaudeville-like act. It probably was meant mainly for the short attention spans of most children. For adults, it would have been much better if the possibilities of each costume had been exploited more and if they had a partner to interact with. I had the same criticism for a rather similar performance by Don in the previous "I Love Melvin".
After this performance, Bing and Don talk about the need to find a leading lady for their next big stage production. They go to Paris(why?), go their own ways, and each prematurely signs a candidate they are sure is the right one: an American, Mitzi, and a French dancer, Zizi Jeanmaire. Bing was impressed by Mitzi's performance as a singer and dancer in the elaborate production "Anything Goes". Don and Bing then watch Zizi in another long production to "I Get a Kick Out of You". Bing questions whether Zizi's English is good enough for the NYC stage. He tells Don he has to get rid of Zizi before they sail to NYC. But Don can't face Zizi, thus smuggles her aboard, to be discovered later. In their respective state rooms, Bing and Mitzi sing and dance to "You're the Top", while Don and Zizi do the same in their state room, as we go back and forth between the two. Clever.
Inevitably, Bing finds out about Zizi. It turns out that Zizi is attracted to Bing, while Don and Mitzi discover that they have a liking for each other. This is further developed when they are alone on the ship deck at night, and do their 'mating dance' to "It's Delovely": one of the highlights of the film. Meanwhile, Bing tries to tell Zizi that they can't use her in the show, but she keeps interrupting, and they wander onto the deck at night. She kisses him. Bing sings "All Through the Night", first in English, then in French. Next, Zigi stars in a series of dances, termed "The Dream Ballet", presumably a daydream. She does a ballet alone, then an entwining dance with 2 sailors, then with a variety of dancers, a jive-like dance. Not bad.. Back to Bing and Zizi on the deck, briefly.
In the morning, a crisis phase begins, as Don talks to Zizi, assuming that Bing told her she has no place in their show. She is mad and says she won't let them out of her contract. Meanwhile, Mizi finds out that her father's(Phil Harris) big IRS problem has reemerged, as a trailing agent is on board.. She tells Don she can't appear in a show in NYC because of her father's problem(not clear why this is so!)
To provide a break from this crisis, Don slips on a ball while walking on deck and traces the ball to a children's playroom. After making friends with the kids, he starts his "You Can Bounce Right Back" dance performance, which I rate as one of the best in his career, with the message that if you fall down, get up and try again. Especially, a great performance for the kids in the audience.
Back to reality, Bing tells Don he is afraid they may lose both their leading ladies. He has an idea how they can both be leading ladies, but first they have to make up to both. With the captain's permission, he arranges for Mitzi and Zizi to be at adjoining dinning tables, alone. Then, he and Don do their "The Second Hand Turban and Crystal Ball" act between the two women. Bing then tells the two women that they have scraped their play idea and will do a new show, based on the foursome's history. Mitzi's father tells the IRS agent about this and he backs off(I don't understand why?) Next, the finale show to "Blow, Gabriel, Blow".
Now, does that sound all that bad? The last part, after Don's solo performance, is admittedly weak. But, most of the rest I think is quite good. Catch it on You Tube.