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1962's GYPSY is currently on &

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p962's GYPSY (strong 2 & 1/2) as many know is currently on TCM & given my love for NATALIE & ALL, it's far  from her finest of the 46 theatrical films she made! & she did (3) for tv later in her short life as well

 

Not a fan at all of R. Russell-(l908-76) myself, except the brilliant 1940 comedy HIS GIRL FRIDAY (Columbia)

She was just to shrill 4 this viewer. Her AMPAS record though was (0 for 4) & as for "THE LOVE OF MY LIFE" it was her very 1st time she was allowed to fully sing in this bio/musical Director Mervyn LeRoy-(Little Caesar, Quo Vadis!, Random Harvest & many more of course, trusted her own voice, unlike all the others that directed her.

EXAMPLE: In *WEST SIDE STORY Marni Nixon dubbed her & with one of if not my own strangely though, because it's not as superb as her favourite SPLENDOR IN THE  GRASS. & mine tool, but

for INSIDE DAISY CLOVER (l965)-(I musta studied that 1 over 100 times td) & it's only a good one (***) Singer Robin Ward (l941-)-(lives down here in FL) dubbed her voice.

 

ALSO, always wished they'd do a theatrical version from her viewpoint & not MAMA ROSE.

 

Upon my 2nd of 3 vacations to HOILLYWOODS, tour bus stopped at a famous place where lots were shot GREYSTONE MANSION & the tour guide said look up this mtn & Gypsy Rose Lee-(lk9l4-70) once lived there, then S. Sommners did.,

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Spence-- although Russell was a fine actress, she was totally inadequate in this role.

Her husband bought the property out from under Ethel Merman.

Russell's portrayal of Mama Rose was vulgar your face and superficial lacking all of the nuance and profundity that Ethel had given when she created the role on Broadway.

And of course there was the issue of the singing.

I can remember when Natalie was rehearsing for the role and Gypsy Rose Lee was telling her how great she was.

 This could have been a great Musical, this should have been a great Musical movie, but Russell ruined it for everyone.

 

 

17 hours ago, spence said:

p962's GYPSY (strong 2 & 1/2) as many know is currently on TCM & given my love for NATALIE & ALL, it's far  from her finest of the 46 theatrical films she made! & she did (3) for tv later in her short life as well

 

Not a fan at all of R. Russell-(l908-76) myself, except the brilliant 1940 comedy HIS GIRL FRIDAY (Columbia)

She was just to shrill 4 this viewer. Her AMPAS record though was (0 for 4) & as for "THE LOVE OF MY LIFE" it was her very 1st time she was allowed to fully sing in this bio/musical Director Mervyn LeRoy-(Little Caesar, Quo Vadis!, Random Harvest & many more of course, trusted her own voice, unlike all the others that directed her.

EXAMPLE: In *WEST SIDE STORY Marni Nixon dubbed her & with one of if not my own strangely though, because it's not as superb as her favourite SPLENDOR IN THE  GRASS. & mine tool, but

for INSIDE DAISY CLOVER (l965)-(I musta studied that 1 over 100 times td) & it's only a good one (***) Singer Robin Ward (l941-)-(lives down here in FL) dubbed her voice.

 

ALSO, always wished they'd do a theatrical version from her viewpoint & not MAMA ROSE.

 

Upon my 2nd of 3 vacations to HOILLYWOODS, tour bus stopped at a famous place where lots were shot GREYSTONE MANSION & the tour guide said look up this mtn & Gypsy Rose Lee-(lk9l4-70) once lived there, then S. Sommners did.,

 

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6 hours ago, Princess of Tap said:

Spence-- although Russell was a fine actress, she was totally inadequate in this role.

Her husband bought the property out from under Ethel Merman.

Russell's portrayal of Mama Rose was vulgar your face and superficial lacking all of the nuance and profundity that Ethel had given when she created the role on Broadway.

And of course there was the issue of the singing.

I can remember when Natalie was rehearsing for the role and Gypsy Rose Lee was telling her how great she was.

 This could have been a great Musical, this should have been a great Musical movie, but Russell ruined it for everyone.

 

 

 

Strong words. I have no Ethel Merman footage to compare, but I would agree Russell is pretty ham-fisted in this one, as she was in most of her late-career roles. 

I must confess, the first time I watched this movie 10 years or more ago, I came into hoping it was mostly going to be about Natalie Wood in various states of undress, as one might logically assume from the title! I had no idea 99 per cent of it was going to be about an overbearing stage mother with an extremely tame Wood-stripping scene at the very end.

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7 hours ago, Princess of Tap said:

Spence-- although Russell was a fine actress, she was totally inadequate in this role.

Her husband bought the property out from under Ethel Merman.

Russell's portrayal of Mama Rose was vulgar your face and superficial lacking all of the nuance and profundity that Ethel had given when she created the role on Broadway.

And of course there was the issue of the singing.

I can remember when Natalie was rehearsing for the role and Gypsy Rose Lee was telling her how great she was.

 This could have been a great Musical, this should have been a great Musical movie, but Russell ruined it for everyone.

Golly, Princess, strong words indeed! I think of Ethel as a belter, but not as a particularly good actress. I really like Roz in Gypsy. It's an over the top role.

Can you imagine Ethel performing this role in Wonderful Town?

 

 

 

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I think the role of Mama Rose is a matter of taste. I'm not saying I think Russell was the right choice of casting, but I don't mind her. I dislike Merman, on the other hand, and find it hard to believe I would like her better.

I've seen some YouTubes of Patti Lu Pone in the role, and her style really appeals to me. She has the ability to be domineering without being annoying.

It seems this role has long been a subject of conflict for musical theatre fans:

http://www.playbill.com/article/ethel-and-angela-and-patti-oh-my-who-is-the-fiercest-mama-rose-of-all-com-349615

 

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20 hours ago, Princess of Tap said:

Russell's portrayal of Mama Rose was vulgar your face and superficial lacking all of the nuance and profundity that Ethel had given when she created the role on Broadway.

Wow, I always appreciate your opinion Princess Of Tap, you know what you're talking about when it comes to musicals/dance/Broadway.

I love Ethel Merman but sometimes I can also like another in the same role, such as Betty Hutton as Annie Oakley in the ANNIE GET YOUR GUN movie. I liked Rosalind Russel as Mama Rose, but also agree there was no "nuance" to her performance. I can't imagine Merman giving a subtle performance, but Broadway shows are lost to the ages, so I'll never know....

I showed GYPSY to a 14 y/o who, when seeing Roz singing as Mama Rose exclaimed, "Is that lady drunk?" which made me LOL.

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I have no qualms about Rosalind's acting in this movie, but my teeth do hurt when I hear her "singing".  :o

Why, I have to scrape my fingernails across a blackboard to get RELIEF!  :blink:

Sepiatone

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38 minutes ago, TikiSoo said:

Wow, I always appreciate your opinion Princess Of Tap, you know what you're talking about when it comes to musicals/dance/Broadway.

I love Ethel Merman but sometimes I can also like another in the same role, such as Betty Hutton as Annie Oakley in the ANNIE GET YOUR GUN movie. I liked Rosalind Russel as Mama Rose, but also agree there was no "nuance" to her performance. I can't imagine Merman giving a subtle performance, but Broadway shows are lost to the ages, so I'll never know....

I showed GYPSY to a 14 y/o who, when seeing Roz singing as Mama Rose exclaimed, "Is that lady drunk?" which made me LOL.

I agree that Merman wasn't exactly known for subtlety, but we do have some film performances to look at. In There's No Business Like Show Business she played a show biz mother to Mitzi Gaynor, Donald O'Connor and Johnnie Ray and I was actually very struck by how restrained and nuanced her portrayal was. All three had show business proclivities (though Ray ultimately opted to become a priest) and she was caring and relatively patient in helping them through the pitfalls of the business, maintaining a sense of humor in the process. Merman could definitely do more than a one-note performance. The difference with Mama Rose is that she didn't really have a sense of humor, being so focused on vicariously living her personal ambitions through her children. The character is supposed to be cringe-inducing and I agree with the few  others who thought Rosalind Russell did a pretty good job, other than the singing, which wasn't really worthy. PBS recently showed a British revival with Imelda Staunton as Rose and that version of the character was almost b*estial, so there are a lot of possible gradations in the interpretation of the character.

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I saw Imelda Staunton in Gypsy. She was very good, but I felt her characterization made Mama Rose above and beyond, almost a psychopath. I guess that's a reasonable approach.

The only other Mama Rose I've seen on stage was Angela Lansbury, whom I liked. And I repeat that I liked Rosalind Russell in the movie.

I knew Arthur Laurents, who wrote the book for the show. When I heard that Bernadette Peters was going to play Mama Rose, I was about to say to Arthur that I thought it was strange, but he snapped: "It was my idea!" so I kept my mouth shut. Arthur said that Bernadette was actually most like the real Mama Rose. Arthur was close to Tyne Daly, and I think he liked her characterization, which he directed, very much.

I read some of the letters from Mama Rose to Gypsy Rose Lee. If anyone thinks the character of Mama Rose in the show is an exaggeration, they should read those letters in the Gypsy Rose Lee archive.

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3 hours ago, TikiSoo said:

Wow, I always appreciate your opinion Princess Of Tap, you know what you're talking about when it comes to musicals/dance/Broadway.

I love Ethel Merman but sometimes I can also like another in the same role, such as Betty Hutton as Annie Oakley in the ANNIE GET YOUR GUN movie. I liked Rosalind Russel as Mama Rose, but also agree there was no "nuance" to her performance. I can't imagine Merman giving a subtle performance, but Broadway shows are lost to the ages, so I'll never know....

I showed GYPSY to a 14 y/o who, when seeing Roz singing as Mama Rose exclaimed, "Is that lady drunk?" which made me LOL.

 

16 hours ago, sewhite2000 said:

Strong words. I have no Ethel Merman footage to compare, but I would agree Russell is pretty ham-fisted in this one, as she was in most of her late-career roles. 

I must confess, the first time I watched this movie 10 years or more ago, I came into hoping it was mostly going to be about Natalie Wood in various states of undress, as one might logically assume from the title! I had no idea 99 per cent of it was going to be about an overbearing stage mother with an extremely tame Wood-stripping scene at the very end.

Some of you might be interested to know that there is audio of Ethel Merman's closing night in " Gypsy " on Broadway for

"Mama's Turn" on YouTube.

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Mama Rose was not a nice person. Trying to play her for sympathy is a mistake. Trying to change the intent of the original creators (Sondheim, Styne, Laurents) is a mistake. The original memoir this is all based on was a one-sided valentine Gypsy Rose Lee wrote for herself. While sister June Havoc (Baby June) has corroborated most of the facts in the story, the personalities are seen thru Gyspy's eyes. In any case, Mama Rose is probably a pretty accurate depiction of the woman. What makes the musical so great is Mama's ferocious ambition, not Gypsy's transformation from cluck to star. That transformation allows for a "happy ending," and the "ending" finally allows Mama to spill her guts in "Rose's Turn."

The original soundtrack used to be around (no idea if it still is) and it allowed us to at least hear Ethel Merman's incredible "Rose's Turn" which was composed specifically for Merman's singing style. Bette Midler understood this in her TV version of the musical. Rosalind Russell gets the attitude right but doesn't have the voice for it. Most sources still list Lisa Kirk as having dubbed much of Russell's singing performance though Russell always denied it. Kirk's voice was "blended" in with Russell's and it comes off as a technical marvel. The Imelda Stanton version always strikes me as somehow out of tune in that she cannot hide her Britishness and so she comes off as an actress playing a part. It's ok, but she ain't Mama Rose.

Wikipedia tells us Russel and husband Frederick Brisson (a producer at Warners) tried to get the rights to make into a film as a straight comedy/drama and not as a musical. They could not separate the story rights from the musical, which Warners had bought. Since Russell had "recently" starred for Warners in Auntie Mame and A Majority of One she had the inside track for Gypsy. Merman just did not have the box-office clout in movies despite a couple of good films in the 1950s.

Who knows how things would have turned out if Merman had been able to re-create her stage triumph.

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3 hours ago, drednm said:

Mama Rose was not a nice person. Trying to play her for sympathy is a mistake. Trying to change the intent of the original creators (Sondheim, Styne, Laurents) is a mistake.

I only know this movie, not any other versions. My personal interpretation is Mama Rose doesn't come across as terribly sympathetic. Maybe a moment or two here and there. But mostly she just seems mentally unbalanced! By the end, I was like, well no wonder Baby June and Herbie left her.

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For those interested, you can find a number of famous ladies doing "Rose's Turn" on YouTube. Ethel Merman, voice only, sounds perfect. Bernadette Peters is nuanced and sympathetic, lots of layers to this character. Unlike most of the others, Bette Midler makes us believe that Rose actually could have been a star. Bette's charm and humor are much in evidence, and some people may think too much so. Patti LuPone's Mama Rose seems close to bipolar, but recognizably human, whereas Imelda Staunton is in full-blown Crazy Cat Lady mode. Mama Rose is one of the juiciest acting roles in musical theater, and many of the great ladies of the stage want to play her at some point in their careers. Each one has to figure out an approach that will work for her.

Rosalind Russell's husband, Frederick Brisson, was not liked in some quarters and received the nickname "the Lizard of Roz." As noted above, Brisson bought up several hit plays for her, like Auntie Mame, Gypsy, A Majority of One, Five Finger Exercise, as Roz was in search of the elusive Oscar.

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This was also spoofed on the old Carol Burnett Show with Burnett and Vicki Lawrence singing "If Momma Was Married" and with Harvey Korman showing up as Rose.

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50 minutes ago, drednm said:

This was also spoofed on the old Carol Burnett Show with Burnett and Vicki Lawrence singing "If Momma Was Married" and with Harvey Korman showing up as Rose.

I loved that sketch. At the time, I had not seen or known about "Gypsy" so I was thinking for years this was the original!

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1 hour ago, Det Jim McLeod said:

I loved that sketch. At the time, I had not seen or known about "Gypsy" so I was thinking for years this was the original!

I think Carol Burnett had the voice and the acting chops to play Mama Rose. That would have been interesting.

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22 hours ago, kingrat said:

Rosalind Russell's husband, Frederick Brisson, was not liked in some quarters and received the nickname "the Lizard of Roz." As noted above, Brisson bought up several hit plays for her, like Auntie Mame, Gypsy, A Majority of One, Five Finger Exercise, as Roz was in search of the elusive Oscar.

Rosalind Russell played Auntie Mame to great acclaim in the Broadway play which was not produced by her husband but by Fryer and Carr. It was logical, because of her success in the play (she was nominated for a Tony Award, having won a few years earlier for Wonderful Town) and was a movie actress as well, for her to play the role on screen.

Frederick Brisson produced many Broadway musicals (The Pajama Game, Damn Yankees) and plays; but not Auntie Mame. He didn't produce the film either. The film was produced by Morton DaCosta, who also directed.

I've always found it amusing that Patrick Dennis (author of Auntie Mame) dedicated one of his later books to "Bertrand and Rosalind Russell."

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Mama Rose was a tough, sarcastic, unscrupulous, loud, brash, insensitive quintessential stage mother whose life goal was to see one of her blood's a headliner w/ name in lights only so as it reflected her own name & image. Her affection for her girls was limited to and yet boundless enough solely to pursue her own dream through them.  She also was apparently talentless herself - and most probably knew it - yet felt deep inside if she only had "that one big break" she coulda showed them all. Likely she was afraid she'd be rejected herself, yet through her daughter(s) - who both truly had talent - she could have her break if only vicariously.  I suppose she was probably certain she'd at least be given credit for having birthed, trained, raised and taught the girls who now garnered such fame. It must have been a great disappointment when she wasn't.  Her voice (talking & singing I imagine)  was gruff, her manner crude, and I think Rosalind Russell played her to perfection.

Maybe it's because I bear such fond nostalgic memories of the film "GYPSY", I always felt Russell's portrayal, embodied all of the above characteristic of the real Mama Rose.  She was not only spot on, but far better than any other portrayals I've seen bits and pieces of on various venues & UTube.

Sorry all, but I found LuPone distasteful; Peters pathetically lame and Middler just plain untalented & ineffectual in the role (although I do love Bette otherwise).  But as Mama Rose?  Russell did it loud, in-your-face, a voice with no finesse and/or talent, but could be heard from the last seat of the top balcony even if you hated it. She probably didn't care that much.  Most likely because Mama Rose probably would've been satisfied just to be heard and recognized from that last seat in the upper balcony and I think Russell, being the actress she was, had Mama Rose's essence - through her spoken dialogue & her vocals - down pat.

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7 hours ago, Zea said:

Russell did it loud, in-your-face, a voice with no finesse and/or talent, but could be heard from the last seat of the top balcony

Which is why my teen thought she was just a drunk lady.

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I should have added that Russell, no doubt having researched Mama before portraying her, "did it loud, in-your-face, a voice w/no finesse and/or talent"  because that's most likely the way Mama Rose would have done it herself. People such as Peters, LuPone and Middler were and are professional singers and good ones, too. To me it would seem somewhat out of character to suddenly have Mama Rose belt out a lilting lyric w/an accomplished voice such as theirs. Ethel Merman, perhaps in the voice department, yes.  But as far as actual acting, I've read that she toned down Mama's bristling, abrasive, overbearing true nature, which Russell didn't except maybe in a few scenes w/Malden.

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Ethel Merman opened in Gypsy in May of 1959 and starred in the entire run ... until March of 1961. More than 700 performances, with no replacement.

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 Ethel also took Gypsy on the national road tour.

The Merm was famously late for one performance of Gypsy having been caught in a DC snowstorm after having performed for JFK's Pre-Inaugural Gala produced by Frank Sinatra.

 

16 minutes ago, drednm said:

Ethel Merman opened in Gypsy in May of 1959 and starred in the entire run ... until March of 1961. More than 700 performances, with no replacement.

Also concerning JFK and Gypsy - - Jule Stein used to love to tell the story about how President Kennedy was in New York City one day and wanted to see Gypsy, but of course it was sold out.

Jule was stumped as for what to do, but eventually he found one New York City housewife who was willing to give up her coveted tickets to honor the president. 

 

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