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BAD MOVIE ALERT: MAME


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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).

 

I actually enjoy Streisand in Dolly. I think the problem is she is just too young for the part

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).

 

Actually, I like Streisand in the part - I enjoy her performance (she's sly and very funny) but I think she was just too young for the role then (She was, after all, only 26 when it was made). Anne Bancroft would have been a fine actress for the part ( could she sing though?) i like your Eddie Albert idea. Matthau and Streisand apparently couldn't stand each other and it shows. Personally, I would have recast Barnaby and Minnie too! I think the real problem is Gene Kelly's overblown big staged musicl numbers that become increasingly ridiculous as they develop. A real case of more being much, much less.

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I have no problem with Michael Kidd's staging or how big the numnbers are.  On stage, the numbers were big, and now we're using 70MM Todd-AO lenses.  They have to be bigger!  That's what makes it so great.  In fact, production value-wise (sets, costumes, choreography), HELLO, DOLLY! is my favorite film musical.  A film needs to be bigger than the stage show.  That's one of my, myriad issues with MY FAIR LADY.  The film doesn't come close to matching the excitement or scope of what I saw on stage.  I sat, dumbstruck, in the Stanley Theater in Philadelphia, watching the dreary "Get Me to the Church on Time" number.  It was a full-out, rocllicking, make you jump to your feet dance number on stage, with its own completely unique music to accompany the dance.  On film, people merely pranced along an obvious set on an obvious studio stage, to the song's melody, just playing over and over.  One in a series of devastatingly dull moments in the screen adaptation of the greatest show I ever saw on a stage.  That film never, once, knows it's a movie.  It's probably the most staid film musical, ever made.  Even in 1964 it seemed dated and old fashioned.  Movies had gone outside long before then.  Simply nothing cinematic about it, at all.  Back to DOLLY!, I think once they decided that bombastic Barbra Streisand was doing the role, they left the intimacy of the stage show behind, and tailored the entire film to her bombast.  On that level, I think it works, remarkably well.  Streisand and Matthau have zero chemistry, and the cast is directed to be cartoonish, rather than real.  Odd, given that Ernest Lehman thought Carol Channing too much for film, and refused to cast her, even though 20th Century-Fox assumed she'd be Dolly.

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By the way, Carol Channing is remarkable as Dolly.  There isn't a single line that doesn't make you smile or laugh out loud.  I've seen many, many, many Dollys, and no one even comes close to how perfect she is, in the role.

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Lucy has her moments in Mame. For me the worst part of the film is the way they butchered Jerry Herman's songs. Lyrics were changed for no reason at all. Several songs are truncated, probably to shorten the running time of the film. But then they added in a new song for Robert Preston (which is quite good). Beatrice Arthur holds her own in the cast, but Jane Connell as Gooch gets shunted into a decidedly supporting role.

 

There's been word of a remake of Auntie Mame for the screen with Tilda Swinton in the starring role. Rosalind Russell was so totally perfect in the original, I can't imagine anyone else in the non-musical part.

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Lucy has her moments in Mame. For me the worst part of the film is the way they butchered Jerry Herman's songs. Lyrics were changed for no reason at all. Several songs are truncated, probably to shorten the running time of the film. But then they added in a new song for Robert Preston (which is quite good). Beatrice Arthur holds her own in the cast, but Jane Connell as **** gets shunted into a decidedly supporting role.

 

There's been word of a remake of Auntie Mame for the screen with Tilda Swinton in the starring role. Rosalind Russell was so totally perfect in the original, I can't imagine anyone else in the non-musical part.

I don't care who they cast, they'll stink by comparison to Russell.  It is, simply, impossible to be better than she is, in the role.  A musical remake has been rumored, for years.  Many years ago, Jerry Hermann said that CBS was wanting to do a television film version and he wanted them to cast Julie Andrews.  She was tied up with a Broadway show,, then lost her voice.  So many people have been mentioned, since (the last being Cher); but I doubt we'll ever see it.  The perfect person for Mame, at one time, was Michelle Lee.  She possessed the acting, singing and dancing abilities for the role, and, was well-known enough to television audiences for a TV film version.  It always makes me a little sad when opportunities like that are missed.  Hollywood is littered with them.  Ironically, I think there was a time when Lucie Arnaz would have made a good Mame.

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Lucy has her moments in Mame. For me the worst part of the film is the way they butchered Jerry Herman's songs. Lyrics were changed for no reason at all. Several songs are truncated, probably to shorten the running time of the film. But then they added in a new song for Robert Preston (which is quite good). Beatrice Arthur holds her own in the cast, but Jane Connell as **** gets shunted into a decidedly supporting role.

 

There's been word of a remake of Auntie Mame for the screen with Tilda Swinton in the starring role. Rosalind Russell was so totally perfect in the original, I can't imagine anyone else in the non-musical part.

 

 

SHEESH. Not another remake. Enough already. Yes, I dont get why they changed (and shortened) the lyrics to **** Buddies. The song was fine as it was. It wasnt improved upon. That Loving You number for Preston was added to the film, but it really slows down the film and could've been cut. Dont understand why they made Jane Connell look prettier. Defeated the purpose. Her role as it was could've been cut entirely, as she doesnt have much to do except for that one number (which is badly staged and shot) Peggy Cass had a much more substantial role in the stage/movie version. Her story got cut apparently..........

 

 

That's B O S O M Buddies!  B O S O M apparently is censorable! LOL.

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I have no problem with Michael Kidd's staging or how big the numnbers are.  On stage, the numbers were big, and now we're using 70MM Todd-AO lenses.  They have to be bigger!  That's what makes it so great.  In fact, production value-wise (sets, costumes, choreography), HELLO, DOLLY! is my favorite film musical.  A film needs to be bigger than the stage show.  That's one of my, myriad issues with MY FAIR LADY.  The film doesn't come close to matching the excitement or scope of what I saw on stage.  I sat, dumbstruck, in the Stanley Theater in Philadelphia, watching the dreary "Get Me to the Church on Time" number.  It was a full-out, rocllicking, make you jump to your feet dance number on stage, with its own completely unique music to accompany the dance.  On film, people merely pranced along an obvious set on an obvious studio stage, to the song's melody, just playing over and over.  One in a series of devastatingly dull moments in the screen adaptation of the greatest show I ever saw on a stage.  That film never, once, knows it's a movie.  It's probably the most staid film musical, ever made.  Even in 1964 it seemed dated and old fashioned.  Movies had gone outside long before then.  Simply nothing cinematic about it, at all.  Back to DOLLY!, I think once they decided that bombastic Barbra Streisand was doing the role, they left the intimacy of the stage show behind, and tailored the entire film to her bombast.  On that level, I think it works, remarkably well.  Streisand and Matthau have zero chemistry, and the cast is directed to be cartoonish, rather than real.  Odd, given that Ernest Lehman thought Carol Channing too much for film, and refused to cast her, even though 20th Century-Fox assumed she'd be Dolly.

Guess we have to agree we disagree on this one. IMHO Jerry Herman Broadway style big is one thing on the stage (and even there, for me, numbers like the title numbe in Mame or "Put on Your Sunday Clothes" in Hello Dolly! go too far with every single chorus member finally belting to the baloney and things building to a level near hysteria) but are really way too much for some movies. How much more pleasant for me would have been those overscaled numbers in the film of Hello Dolly!, had they been toned way down. I have no prolems with Kidd's chorography (love "Seven Brides" , but would not have needed to see 100 of those guys stomping and junpimg around!) , but with the movie's (Kelly's?) need to make numbers like the title number and especially "Before the Parade Passes By" and again, "Put on Your Sunday Clothes" big, Big, BIG!!! - it becomes ridiculous and unpleasant and not awesome as intended. Let's say a couple dozen talented dancers joining in - not seemingly hundreds!

I am also, I'm afraid, in the camp that admires My Fair Lady on film, though admittedly have only seen the stage version in regional productions and not professionally done.The numbers with Eliza's father are the least of that show for me anyway and I have no problems with anything about the movie including Audrey Hepburn. I know there is much disagreement on that one, but it really is subjective isn't it?

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Guess we have to agree we disagree on this one. IMHO Jerry Herman Broadway style big is one thing on the stage (and even there, for me, numbers like the title numbe in Mame or "Put on Your Sunday Clothes" in Hello Dolly! go too far with every single chorus member finally belting to the baloney and things building to a level near hysteria) but are really way too much for some movies. How much more pleasant for me would have been those overscaled numbers in the film of Hello Dolly!, had they been toned way down. I have no prolems with Kidd's chorography (love "Seven Brides" , but would not have needed to see 100 of those guys stomping and junpimg around!) , but with the movie's (Kelly's?) need to make numbers like the title number and especially "Before the Parade Passes By" and again, "Put on Your Sunday Clothes" big, Big, BIG!!! - it becomes ridiculous and unpleasant and not awesome as intended. Let's say a couple dozen talented dancers joining in - not seemingly hundreds!

I am also, I'm afraid, in the camp that admires My Fair Lady on film, though admittedly have only seen the stage version in regional productions and not professionally done.The numbers with Eliza's father are the least of that show for me anyway and I have no problems with anything about the movie including Audrey Hepburn. I know there is much disagreement on that one, but it really is subjective isn't it?

 

As for My Fair Lady;  well if one didn't see the Andrews Broadway production (like me)  than one can't compare that with the movie version with Hepburn.    We only have the opinions of those that have seen both.    

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The musical Mame hasn't been on Broadway since the original show closed. Bette Midler has toyed with doing it but she's too old now. Christine Baranski toured several years ago with an eye toward Broadway but her reviews were hideous and the show closed "out of town," as they used to say. Even Bernadette Peters is too old now even though she looks about 40.

 

Odd that even the play has never been revived on Broadway. As for remaking Auntie Mame as a film, they'd ruin it by "updating" the story, and the story wouldn't work in modern times. Even the musical version (at least in the film) updated the Connecticut school next to the Upsons from one for Jewish refugees to one for unwed mothers.... to no effect.

 

The key to Mame's comic character is that we see her as a madcap, but she sees herself as a perfectly normal personal and not as an eccentric at all. That's why she's funny. If you play Mame as a clown, you lose the real humor and the warmth her character exudes.

 

 

 

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Guess we have to agree we disagree on this one. IMHO Jerry Herman Broadway style big is one thing on the stage (and even there, for me, numbers like the title numbe in Mame or "Put on Your Sunday Clothes" in Hello Dolly! go too far with every single chorus member finally belting to the baloney and things building to a level near hysteria) but are really way too much for some movies. How much more pleasant for me would have been those overscaled numbers in the film of Hello Dolly!, had they been toned way down. I have no prolems with Kidd's chorography (love "Seven Brides" , but would not have needed to see 100 of those guys stomping and junpimg around!) , but with the movie's (Kelly's?) need to make numbers like the title number and especially "Before the Parade Passes By" and again, "Put on Your Sunday Clothes" big, Big, BIG!!! - it becomes ridiculous and unpleasant and not awesome as intended. Let's say a couple dozen talented dancers joining in - not seemingly hundreds!

I am also, I'm afraid, in the camp that admires My Fair Lady on film, though admittedly have only seen the stage version in regional productions and not professionally done.The numbers with Eliza's father are the least of that show for me anyway and I have no problems with anything about the movie including Audrey Hepburn. I know there is much disagreement on that one, but it really is subjective isn't it?

Yes.  We, apparently, want different things from movies.

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The musical Mame hasn't been on Broadway since the original show closed. Bette Midler has toyed with doing it but she's too old now. Christine Baranski toured several years ago with an eye toward Broadway but her reviews were hideous and the show closed "out of town," as they used to say. Even Bernadette Peters is too old now even though she looks about 40.

 

Odd that even the play has never been revived on Broadway. As for remaking Auntie Mame as a film, they'd ruin it by "updating" the story, and the story wouldn't work in modern times. Even the musical version (at least in the film) updated the Connecticut school next to the Upsons from one for Jewish refugees to one for unwed mothers.... to no effect.

 

The key to Mame's comic character is that we see her as a madcap, but she sees herself as a perfectly normal personal and not as an eccentric at all. That's why she's funny. If you play Mame as a clown, you lose the real humor and the warmth her character exudes.

 

 

That's not true. Angela Lansbury starred in a revival of Mame on Broadway in the early 80s, but it didnt go over. I think it only played a couple months. Ticket sales were soft in Boston, so it moved to NY and moved up the opening date. I think it wound up opening in August which was really stupid. They should have booked a few more dates and opened in the fall. This was before she fell into the good fortune of Murder, She Wrote. I dont think its been revived since. It would be a very expensive show to produce, which would dissuade backers. I remember critics at the time complaining the revival was a word for word/directed revival and they should have done more with it. Whatever. It flopped.

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That's not true. Angela Lansbury starred in a revival of Mame on Broadway in the early 80s, but it didnt go over. I think it only played a couple months. Ticket sales were soft in Boston, so it moved to NY and moved up the opening date. I think it wound up opening in August which was really stupid. They should have booked a few more dates and opened in the fall. This was before she fell into the good fortune of Murder, She Wrote. I dont think its been revived since. It would be a very expensive show to produce, which would dissuade backers. I remember critics at the time complaining the revival was a word for word/directed revival and they should have done more with it. Whatever. It flopped.

 

Yes you're right. I wasn't counting that since it had so many of the people from the original show involved, but yes it was a full-fledged revival and FLOP. For some reason I thought it was a "concert" version.

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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.

The same can be said of THE WIZ. Why didn't its producers cast a newcomer with the talent of a Garland, instead of forcing Diana Ross to play a grown woman with the mind of a child?

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That's not true. Angela Lansbury starred in a revival of Mame on Broadway in the early 80s, but it didnt go over. I think it only played a couple months. Ticket sales were soft in Boston, so it moved to NY and moved up the opening date. I think it wound up opening in August which was really stupid. They should have booked a few more dates and opened in the fall. This was before she fell into the good fortune of Murder, She Wrote. I dont think its been revived since. It would be a very expensive show to produce, which would dissuade backers. I remember critics at the time complaining the revival was a word for word/directed revival and they should have done more with it. Whatever. It flopped.

 

Yes you're right. I wasn't counting that since it had so many of the people from the original show involved, but yes it was a full-fledged revival and FLOP. For some reason I thought it was a "concert" version.

 

 

 

No big deal. I'm sure most people have forgotten about it, since it played so briefly. I'm sure it was a HUGE disappointment for Lansbury, especially since Carol Channing came back to Broadway so often in Dolly revivals and always had success with them........

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The musical Mame hasn't been on Broadway since the original show closed. Bette Midler has toyed with doing it but she's too old now. Christine Baranski toured several years ago with an eye toward Broadway but her reviews were hideous and the show closed "out of town," as they used to say. Even Bernadette Peters is too old now even though she looks about 40.

 

Odd that even the play has never been revived on Broadway. As for remaking Auntie Mame as a film, they'd ruin it by "updating" the story, and the story wouldn't work in modern times. Even the musical version (at least in the film) updated the Connecticut school next to the Upsons from one for Jewish refugees to one for unwed mothers.... to no effect.

 

The key to Mame's comic character is that we see her as a madcap, but she sees herself as a perfectly normal personal and not as an eccentric at all. That's why she's funny. If you play Mame as a clown, you lose the real humor and the warmth her character exudes.

 

At point in the early 2000s Rob Marshall was going to direct MAME for television with Cher in the lead, but the project ultimately fell through.     

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The same can be said of THE WIZ. Why didn't its producers cast a newcomer with the talent of a Garland, instead of forcing Diana Ross to play a grown woman with the mind of a child?

 

 

Money. Or at least the idea of making money. Another adaptation that went south..........

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At point in the early 2000s Rob Marshall was going to direct MAME for television with Cher in the lead, but the project ultimately fell through.     

 

 

Goldie Hawn at one time was linked to the project too (unsure if it was film or tv) They should just leave it alone.......

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The same can be said of THE WIZ. Why didn't its producers cast a newcomer with the talent of a Garland, instead of forcing Diana Ross to play a grown woman with the mind of a child?

Up the point that I saw THE WIZ, it was the worst thing I had ever seen on a stage.  I saw it during its Philadelphia try out, and have no idea what they did to it to make it a moderate hit on Broadway, but I thought it was lousy, beyond belief.  I've seen worse, since, though.  Never saw, nor will ever see, the movie.

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I wonder if it would've worked out all right if Lucy has realized the role was out of her range, but since she'd invested so much money in the project, they let her stay on as Vera (and maybe even expanded the role.)

 

I think it wouldn't been good for Lucy to develop a "crusty" persona (much like Shirley Maclaine would later do)- might've given her career a second wind.

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LIZA in her [...] prime would have blown the hinges off the doors as MAME.

 

I wonder why she wasnt considered? Too young? Better too young, than too old......

Edited by TCMModerator1
Edited for inappropriate language
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