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"Mame" (1974)


joefilmone
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I took a lot at this again in DVD and did not think it was a horrible as it's reputation. Lucy looks fabulous and of course is funny- yes she did not have the voice to sing the score- ( they should have done the classic era solution and dubbed her) I wish they had gotten a director with more movie musical experience- I'm surprise they did not get Minelli or Donen who might have added a bit of energy and more style.

 

Edited by: joefilmone on Jun 8, 2013 11:27 AM

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What I remember most about seeing MAME when it was released, is how cheap it seemed, compared to all those big screen road show musicals we had seen, a decade earlier. That and the fact that Lucy didn't hold a candle to Angela Lansbury in the role. Still I don't hate the film, even if it's not something I can watch over and over. The show, on the other hand, is something I wish I could see, over and over. Once again, Hollywood gets it wrong. They never, ever learn.

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The production does not look cheap- they obviously spent the money on the sets and costumes. I don't think it's a great movie- some of the script points are really creaky and the over all feel is old fashion which is probably the reason the film failed at the box office.

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No, it doesn't look cheap on DVD; but, it looked cheap on a motion picture screen, after a decade plus of seeing 70MM 6-track stereophonic sound road show films. MAME was released in no road show engagement, in 35MM mono.

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  • 5 weeks later...

For years rumors circulated that Lisa Kirk had dubbed vocals for Lucy but that Lucy refused to let them be used. A friend of mine who worked at WB at the time allowed me to listen to Kirk's vocals in 1980. They were exceptionally good while sounding like Lucille Ball had she been able to really sing. Had they been used it would not have been a case of the audience whispering, "That doesn't sound anything like Lucille Ball" and might have enhanced the film.

 

I attended the opening in 1974 at the Cinerama Dome and can only say that when Lucy first opened her mouth to sing "It's Today", there was nervous laughter, lots of whispering and then dead silence.

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  • 4 months later...

I've seen this three times, but always on television. I had avoided it in theaters because the "general wisdom" was that "Hello Dolly" had been the stake through the heart for movie musicals and now "Mame" was the final nail in the coffin. In those days I was a "serious" filmgoer; thank God I've mellowed enough to watch movies for pure pleasure because, years later, it turns I like both films. A lot of the objection to both had been the casting of the central role, but now I find that I can live with it in both cases. Go figure. Each might have been improved by different casting, but they are what they are at this point. Gene Saks had begun as a theater director (and actor), but by the time of "Mame" he'd already brought "Barefoot In The Park", "The Odd Couple" and "Cactus Flower" to the screen, so he wasn't exactly a novice. A big difference between stage and screen is that it's a lot harder to pace a film to allow for laughter, etc. On stage, actors can modulate the timing according to audience response, but on film it has to be set in stone. Since we often watch films at home these days and not with an audience, the problem can be compounded if the director has made wrong assumptions about what audience response would or should be. I didn't feel a lot of that with "Mame", though the editing seemed a little odd in some of the scene transitions and things like Mame and Patrick sitting ON TOP of the Statue of Liberty seemed too precious. I'm sure, Paulio, that the audience response when Lucy first sang was exactly as you described it. I don't cringe any more myself, but I understand the shock of hearing a voice of that caliber in a big-budget film of a hit musical, but my growing affection for Lucy in this role has somewhat won me over. Since I don't have anything but the original cast recording to go on, I can't compare Lucy's and Angela Lansbury's overall performances as Mame Dennis. By all accounts Angela was a smash, so it's understandable that Lucy wanted this particular show to be her final legacy. I have to admit that as the years and the various sitcoms had gone on I had grown indifferent to Lucy, but now when I want a quick Lucille Ball fix I'll be more likely to go to this film than to "I Love Lucy" reruns. At this point Lucy is probably best remembered as the television pioneer she was, but her film career is something anyone could point to with pride and I don't really blame her for wanting to go out with a high-profile project like this.

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  • 4 months later...

I saw the revival of "MAME" on Broadway (front row) with Angela Lansbury. I'm sure it wasn't near as good as the original Broadway production, but since it's one of my favorite shows of all time, I was thrilled. So glad that Jane Connell, the original Gooch was in it!

Most people will never know how wonderful this show is, because they were so turned off by the movie. Lucy was an amazing comedian but so wrong for "MAME". The terrible voice was reason enough, but also she played the role like a clown, which is NOT the character. The movie does have Bea Arthur, Robert Preston, etc. who are fantastic!

As we all know Hollywood rather puts the original broadway actor in the movie, which is usually a mistake. A big exception though is the fabulous Ellen Greene in "Little Shop of Horrors." I was so surprised that they didn't go for a movie star.

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  • 2 weeks later...

That's not going to happen. Jerry Herman first negotiated a TV version, on the strength that he would convince Julie Andrews to play Mame. Then Julie had botched vocal surgery and that was that. Then, Bette Midler (God forbid) was mentioned, then Streisand, herself, the Striesand producing with Cher, as Mame. I can't see Cher as Mame, at all. There was a time, back in the early 90s, when I thought the best person for Mame was Michele Lee (who was starring in KNOTS LANDING), which had a 14 season run. She could sing, dance and act. She would have been perfect. Now that they're doing (lousy) live-event theatricals on NBC, we still may see it with Lady Gaga or someone equally as uninteresting.

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Actually I think Cher might be a good Mame.  More than anything Mame must be a free-spirit, bohemian, lovable character.  Of course singing and acting talent is essential (which Cher has)

She has to be the right "type."  Angela Lansbury never had the greatest voice range but was "MAME"

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  • 11 months later...
  • 3 months later...

So is Cher planned to play MAME on B'way or a remake movie?

I think Cher would be OK on B'way, but definitely not good for a remake movie of MAME, for the reasons johnm stated. Her face just cannot handle close-ups. 

 

Too bad those whose bank depends on their looks are sold the "plastic lift" bill of goods. You end up aging anyway and looking worse than if you just allowed normal aging. Too bad, I love Cher. I think she's a survivor and has talent to entertain. Just hate the odd look she now has.

 

And what's wrong with Bette Midler? Granted, haven't seen her lately, but what a powerhouse talent! She certainly has the brashness for the role.

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