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BAD MOVIE ALERT: MAME

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Oh no.

Now she's on roller skates.

Grandma's gonna break a hip.

MAME can really be any age.  How about the proposed (ridiculous) notion of Barbra Streisand as Rose in GYPSY???!!!!  Those girls are SUPPOSED to be her daughters!

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The big mistake of MAME is conceiving the character as a Lucy Ricardo type buffoon; anyone who has read the book can tell you that is a total distortion of Dennis' creation.

As for the music, WE WANT A LITTLE CHRISTMAS is the sorriest excuse for a Xmas carol ever; only the loutish chorale at the conclusion of the second HOME ALONE is even more loud and garish. Both pieces simply try too hard to be Christmas-y.

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After reading all these comments, I can't tell whether this movie (which mercifully I didn't watch or record) is more like Pink Flamingos or Springtime For Hitler.  Is it really as delightfully campy as those two, or is it just flat out horrible?

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MAME can really be any age.  How about the proposed (ridiculous) notion of Barbra Streisand as Rose in GYPSY???!!!!  Those girls are SUPPOSED to be her daughters!

 

You're more than welcome to be the one to tell that to Babs.

I'll be standing with the EMTS just outside the door.

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It just ticks me off that they think they have to drown out the cast members who can sing (Robert Preston)!

 

I was surprised by that too...I mean, how can you drown out a voice like that? I quit watching right after he and Lucy start their European tour.

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AndyM108--It's a  near bomb, definitely more like The Producers than Pink Flamingos (IMO).  Bea Arthur is wonderful & should have played Mame--her one solo (The Man in the Moon is a Miss) & with parts of 3 duets, she walks away with the film, no contest--Robert Preston is in there slaving away, singing and making Lucy look good in the title song & dance number.  Lucy finds her singing balance with the 4th song--she stays within a Very Limited tenor range or talk sings her songs, like Rex Harrison in My Fair Lady.

 

What Really bugged me--the pound of Vaseline the cameraman put on the lens before filming Lucy--you can't see the edges of her clothing & her necklaces look like polka dots. I mean filters are for colors, aren't they?  Like South Pacific (1958) & The Moon & Sixpence (1942).  The little kid they cast can't sing & apparently never heard of the concept "stay on key".  He's dreadful--but I dislike most child actors.  The choreography is slowww.  The film's not a total disaster--but if it weren't for Bea Arthur & Robert Preston, it would be awfully close. :)

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After reading all these comments, I can't tell whether this movie (which mercifully I didn't watch or record) is more like Pink Flamingos or Springtime For Hitler.  Is it really as delightfully campy as those two, or is it just flat out horrible?

 

Flat-out horrible....but in a confounding way, because it so didn't have to be.

 

I don't even know where to begin in describing the myriad of problems with the film...Maybe I take it back to the 1958 version- which I like alright for the first half hour...and then always lose patience with. There are some basic script problems going on- the foundation of the whole story is supposed to be the bond between Mame and her nephew, which I think is lost somewhere along the time the plot cul-de-sac wherein she meets, marries, and becomes a widow begins. By the one-hour mark, we're back to square one and I don't see any character development or progression of a story. And the film definitely becomes infiintely less tolerable when the character of Vera takes a backseat (Coral Browne is so wonderful in the 1958 version, and Bea Arthur is doing her best to plug the leaks in the 1974 redux) and is replaced by the infitinely annoying Agnes ****....I don't know WHY they do this, because- to me- Vera is the father figure to Mame's mother figure- they form a very important unit- and the sense of that totally goes out the window when she steps aside. (and they remove some of her funniest dialogue and scenes in the remake.)

 

all of these issues are exacerbated in the 1974 remake- there is next to NO sense of a bond between Mame and Patick this time around. Aside from a rather odd montage wherein we see the two of them sliding down firepoles and entering speakeasys, we get no sense of a connection between the two- this is of course not helped by the fact that the kid in the 1974 version, forgive me Lord: SUCKS OUT LOUD at both acting and singing and is reduced to nothing more than a prop. (And I have to say, the kid in the 1958 version is really good.)

 

The art direction and costumes are great- but maybe too great- as they end up more often than not being the star of every scene; I didn't really have a problem with the dewy cinematography, but I think the whole look of the film is a little too retro given that it was made in the middle of the decade where film was really "growing up" and moving on- MAME is, cussing and child nudity (!) aside- pretty stuck in the 1940's and a lot less cleverly risque and counter-culture than the 1958 version (which is one of its few strengths.)

 

And at the end of the day- the biggest issue is Lucy- who just...bless her heart- cannot overcome the fact that her six-pack-a-day habit has left her with a singing voice on a par with John Carradine- but beyond that- she's stiff, uneasy and joyless (at least until the fox hunt scene, where she seems to come to life a bit) and really has no chemistry with anyone in the cast. 

 

there's a verite element to her performance where you can literally see the gears in her head spinning as she realizes "[...] I wanted this so bad and worked so hard to get it, and now that I'm here: I don't know what the hell to do." ...and you would feel kind of bad for her if it weren't for the fact that she stepped all over Angela Lansbury to get the part.

 

what a mess.

 

ps- apparently G O O C H is autocensored.

Edited by TCMModerator1
Edited for language
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     Simply said, this was a blatant example of miscasting. Why in the world the powers that be selected Lucille Ball for this role is beyond comprehension.

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I have no issue with AUNTIE MAME, nor the musical MAME.  In fact, when I saw it on Broadway, with its original cast, I thought it was right up there with MY FAIR LADY and HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING, and one of the greatest musicals ever produced.  Like many Hollywood adaptations of Broadway musicals, the film bears little resemblance to what I saw on stage.  Yes, most of the songs are there, and most of the same scenes are there; and in the case of MAME, properly opened-up and not studio-bound.  It looks like a movie, which is a great thing.  The problem is that the leading lady cannot sing, dance or act the role, and the kid is equally appalling.  So, someone tell me how people who are supposed to be in the BUSINESS of talent, so often cast people WITHOUT the talent to do roles in musicals?  I can count on one hand the film adaptations of Broadway musicals that I think are the equal of what I saw on stage.  Less than one hand!  MAME isn't even close to being the worst one, either!

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  I can count on one hand the film adaptations of Broadway musicals that I think are the equal of what I saw on stage.  Less than one hand!  MAME isn't even close to being the worst one, either!

 

MAN OF LA MANCHA? (with CAMELOT being a viable runner up.)

 

Curious- what would you say some of the best are?

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It just ticks me off that they think they have to drown out the cast members who can sing (Robert Preston)!

 

 

I only made it halfway through as I had to hit the sheets. Lucy didnt sound as bad as I remembered, but its amazing she sounded as good as she did. I'd read she prerecorded her songs with Jerry Herman and often they'd have to record one line one day, another line the next, sometimes a word in a line another day as Lucy couldnt hit the note or keep the phrase going. And it was all patched together on the soundtrack. For this reason the soundtrack wasnt released in the high stereo version that was planned. Jerry Herman was so upset with the project he vowed he'd never be involved in another movie adaptation of his work unless he had control of the project.

 

There were rumors Lucy sunk 5 million of her own money in the project, which would explain why she got the part (that must've been near half the budget).

 

There is a book out on the whole history of Mame, from the book through Lucy and beyond (Barbra optioned it for a tv adaptation that was never made). I think it's called, But Darling, I'm Your Auntie Mame! (paid one cent plus shipping, I'm sure well worth it!!!)

 

It makes one wonder why she so badly wanted to play the part, after seeing the movie. It isnt just her singing.  She plays the entire movie in low gear and everything around her is slowed down to her performance (the only exception is the title number) The tip off comes in the very first scene. You see Lucy do a few dance steps, then the camera cuts away and shes carried through the number by the male dancers. All the songs are slowed down. The big ballad showstopper, If He Walked Into My Life, I remember as being a huge letdown the way its filmed and sung. It's supposed to be this big dramatic number and its so blah in the film.....

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thanks for the heads up, but I'm kind of scared after reading the write up on wikipedia.

 

It's also worth noting that they did not use the Maltin review in the schedule because it's one of the rare films that he rates as "BOMB!"

 

(this is, of course, the same Leonard Maltin who gave three and a half stars to Roger Corman's LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, if that gives you any kind of gauge.)

 

 

I loved how diplomatic RO was in the intro about the film. YOU DECIDE. LOL!

 

Was Mame really a premiere?? I seem to remember it being shown once before as I just couldnt watch the whole thing. Unless it was AMC? It must've been a good decade ago. You cant always rely on these TCM PREMIERE announcements......

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I found this snippet of a review on Wikipedia, which nails it:

 

Time Magazine said, "The movie spans about 20 years, and seems that long in running time . . . Miss Ball has been molded over the years into some sort of national monument, and she performs like one too. Her grace, her timing, her vigor have all vanished."

 

Done.

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I loved how diplomatic RO was in the intro about the film. YOU DECIDE. LOL!

 

 

Oh you just know he and Angie have had some looooooooong and colorful dish sessions over several glasses of something 80-proof about MAME.

 

(and oh to be a fly on the wall for them!)

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Oh you just know he and Angie have had some looooooooong and colorful dish sessions over several glasses of something 80-proof about MAME.

 

(and oh to be a fly on the wall for them!)

 

 

LOL.

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What's truly sad - aside from the personal embarassment to Lucille Ball's legend as a talented comedienne - was the lost opportunity to see Angela Lansbury recreate her Tony winning performance and for that matter, just show off her singing, dancing and performing talent in a MOVIE musical She was never given this chance. I was fortunate to see her Mame (and her Mama Rose in Gypsy - wow!) and have never forgotten that performance. Obviously it was a money choice that was also a disastrous one (both critically and at the box office). Unfortunately, by the time Ball made Mame, even her tv audience was tired of her. (Granted that the risible The Lucy Show dragged on for years). Sympathetic as I want to be to Ms.Ball's snatching this part from the star who created the part on Broadway (Ball wasn't the first and won't be the last), she should have been less delusional snd taken the high road ("Have Angela do it - it's HER part!") as Cary Grant, for example did with "The Music Man"

Of course, the real culprit is (Warner?) the one who signed Ball in the first place. Did anyone test to see if she could actually sing the part (God! - that disgusting tobacco induced croaking) or move ( it's NOT dancing)? Or was it just a cynical "Well, it IS a musical - but we can draw in all the I love Lucy fans (still absolutely ubiquitous in reruns at that time) and the comedy will carry it". WRONG!

To get an idea of this lost opportunity check out on Youtube Ms. Lansbury performing "Thoroughly Modern Millie" at the opening of the Academy Awards ceremony the year that song was up for an Oscar. This was around the time she could have been starring in the film of "Mame" and reveals what her Mame on Bway was and what the film could have been.

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What's truly sad - aside from the personal embarassment to Lucille Ball's legend as a talented comedienne - was the lost opportunity to see Angela Lansbury recreate her Tony winning performance and for that matter, just show off her singing, dancing and performing talent in a MOVIE musical She was never given this chance. I was fortunate to see her Mame (and her Mama Rose in Gypsy - wow!) and have never forgotten that performance. Obviously it was a money choice that was also a disastrous one (both critically and at the box office). Unfortunately, by the time Ball made Mame, even her tv audience was tired of her. (Granted that the risible The Lucy Show dragged on for years). Sympathetic as I want to be to Ms.Ball's snatching this part from the star who created the part on Broadway (Ball wasn't the first and won't be the last), she should have been less delusional snd taken the high road ("Have Angela do it - it's HER part!") as Cary Grant, for example did with "The Music Man"

Of course, the real culprit is (Warner?) the one who signed Ball in the first place. Did anyone test to see if she could actually sing the part (God! - that disgusting tobacco induced croaking) or move ( it's NOT dancing)? Or was it just a cynical "Well, it IS a musical - but we can draw in all the I love Lucy fans (still absolutely ubiquitous in reruns at that time) and the comedy will carry it". WRONG!

To get an idea of this lost opportunity check out on Youtube Ms. Lansbury performing "Thoroughly Modern Millie" at the opening of the Academy Awards ceremony the year that song was up for an Oscar. This was around the time she could have been starring in the film of "Mame" and reveals what her Mame on Bway was and what the film could have been.

 

 

Yes, its really sad that Lansbury didnt get to repeat her role. It may not have made a difference at the box office, but it at least would have had more life to it. Since Gene Saks directed this mess, maybe not as good as it could have been, but with a better director maybe. Had Mame been made in the 60s soon after the musical it could've been a hit. But by the time they finally made it, in the mid-70s, movie musicals had lost their impact at the box office (except for Cabaret, which was a different kind of story....)

 

Mame was probably 40ish at the most in the beginning of the story. Lucy was just too old and it shows............

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Yes, its really sad that Lansbury didnt get to repeat her role. It may not have made a difference at the box office, but it at least would have had more life to it. Since Gene Saks directed this mess, maybe not as good as it could have been, but with a better director. Had Mame been made in the 60s soon after the musical it could've been a hit.

 

"It may not have made a diffrence at the box office". Or on the other hand it might have. As Lansbury herself has said, if she had been given the part, hopefully possible critical praise could have made it a hit. Saks with a takented leading lady might have been just fine,After all, that parade of big expensive musicals at that time ( all made in the hope of duplicating the box office success of The Sound of Music and Mary Poppins) were all very BAD, critically panned and generally overblown flops - Lost Horizon, Dr.Doolittle, Camelot, Hello Dolly!, Paint Your Wagon, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Happiest Millionare, Star!, etc. and, of course, Mame. The exception, as you point out, was the critical ( and perhaps - therefore) box office success of Cabaret - decudedly NOT overblown or absurdly cast, but brilliantly adapted and made into one of the movies' great musicals.

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 Since Gene Saks directed this mess, maybe not as good as it could have been, but with a better director. Had Mame been made in the 60s soon after the musical it could've been a hit.

 

last part first: had it been made in the 1960's, it would've come out within ten years (or less) of the 1958 film, which (believe it or not) was at that time one of the highest grossing films of all time- so I think there was a "too soon" sense at the time (although of course nowadays Mame wouldn've been rebooted and retconned and joined the Avengers to fight The Silver Surfer and Dr. Ocotpus, like, 8 times since 2000.)

 

first part last: yes, the film was obviously lacking helmsanship...it just meandered around without a sense of anyone calling any shots or steering it in any direction...maybe Gene Saks just felt like he didn't have a shot at making anything good out of it with Lucy in the lead.

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last part first: had it been made in the 1960's, it would've come out within ten years (or less) of the 1958 film, which (believe it or not) was at that time one of the highest grossing films of all time- so I think there was a "too soon" sense at the time (although of course nowadays Mame wouldn've been rebooted and retconned and joined the Avengers to fight The Silver Surfer and Dr. Ocotpus, like, 8 times since 2000.)

 

first part last: yes, the film was obviously lacking helmsanship...it just meandered around without a sense of anyone calling any shots or steering it in any direction...maybe Gene Saks just felt like he didn't have a shot at making anything good out of it with Lucy in the lead.

 

 

Possibly.  There may have been some clause about the film not being released while the show was till packing them in like Hello, Dolly. But Mame had too much stacked against it releasing it in the mid 70s. They should've just left it alone if they couldnt do it right. :(

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Yes, its really sad that Lansbury didnt get to repeat her role. It may not have made a difference at the box office, but it at least would have had more life to it. Since Gene Saks directed this mess, maybe not as good as it could have been, but with a better director. Had Mame been made in the 60s soon after the musical it could've been a hit.

 

"It may not have made a diffrence at the box office". Or on the other hand it might have. As Lansbury herself has said, if she had been given the part, hopefully possible critical praise could have made it a hit. Saks with a takented leading lady might have been just fine,After all, that parade of big expensive musicals at that time ( all made in the hope of duplicating the box office success of The Sound of Music and Mary Poppins) were all very BAD, critically panned and generally overblown flops - Lost Horizon, Dr.Doolittle, Camelot, Hello Dolly!, Paint Your Wagon, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Happiest Millionare, Star!, etc. and, of course, Mame. The exception, as you point out, was the critical ( and perhaps - therefore) box office success of Cabaret - decudedly NOT overblown or absurdly cast, but brilliantly adapted and made into one of the movies' great musicals.

 

 

Yes, who knows? That's a question that will remain unanswered. With critical praise and a different star it had a better chance at success, although it had a lot stacked against it at the time...........

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At the time of its release, Lucy was doing HERE'S LUCY on television.  There is a truly horrific episode where Lucille Carter meets Lucille Ball.  MAME was mentioned, and they even had photos from the film, in Miss Ball's dressing room.  I barely remember it, except that it was cringe-worthy, to say the least, and that Lucy as Lucille Ball was as cold and steely as she is as MAME.  Another Jerry Herman musical where the leady lady in the film, completely lacks warmth, is HELLO, DOLLY!  However, the film is so spectacularly mounted, and, for once, Streisand is actually attempting to be someone other than Barbra Streisand (okay, so it's Mae West, but West is better than Streisand), that it hardly matters.  You see every penny spent on it, and in 70MM Todd-AO and 6-track stereophonic sound, it is incredible, in spite of it's poor casting (I would have gone with Anne Bancroft as Dolly, Eddie Albert as Horace, Grover Dale as Corneilus, Ann-Margret as Irene - Barnaby and Minnie are fine).  

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