Is MAME really that awful? I had a Ball watching it

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Louis Letizia, Aug 6, 2012.

  1. Louis Letizia

    Louis Letizia Supporting Actor

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    Am I missing why this movie is considered so awful?? Please enlighten me. I saw rhis at 10,at Radio City Music Hall..and watched it every time,it played HBO. Ive recently watched it on Amazon Prime...and was as giddy as my 10 year old self. What am I missing/
     
  2. bryan4999

    bryan4999 Supporting Actor

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    One hundred and one years ago today Lucille Ball was born.
    I like the movie, and at 10 years old, when Mame was released, I was a huge fan of hers and so going to see her at the movies was the natural thing to do. I had the record album back then and played it quite a bit. Now that I am older, my biggest problem with the film is the script. If you compare it to the script for Auntie Mame, Paul Zindel, IMO, "diluted" it; a lot of the witty zingers and ironic repartee are gone.
    Also, I think when you consider what the world was like in 1974, Mame did come across as rather old-fashioned and people just were not looking for that kind of entertainment. Just like everything was starting to be made of plastic rather than metal or wood, people were looking for things more "modern'. Things seemed to have balanced out a bit now, with a lot more appreciation given to classic films, etc. But in 1974 the focus was on moving forward.
    Then there is Lucy's singing. It doesn't bother me, in fact I listen to the CD now and then (partly for the great orchestrations), but I am a huge fan and I would love Lucy even if she were just reading the phone book. Not everyone feels that way. I recall that my Uncle expressed his opinion this way: "Every copy of that LP should be gathered up and burned." He wasn't alone in that sentiment, and many people I have spoken simply felt she was being self-indulgent by playing a role she was not only too old for, but wrong for. Jerry Herman (who wrote the music) was of the opinion that, while Lucy was a great clown, what makes Mame funny is that she is a classy dame who occasionally does clownish things.
    If Mame came out on blu-ray today (hopefully with 5.1, despite Warner's insistence it can't be done), I would buy it right now.
     
  3. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer
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    Just as with Annie, seeing the show on stage before seeing the movie is one of the reasons it was SUCH a letdown. I saw Mame twice on Broadway before the movie came out. And then I heard Lucy trying to sing those songs without the skill to really get out of them what needed to be conveyed. As for the dancing, she really doesn't DO anything (she had broken her leg which necessitated the postponement of filming, and I think Onna White just didn't want to give her anything to possibly risk another break during filming), so everyone dances around her while she makes arm movements or lets herself be lifted. It's all a cheat, a compromised performance because the leading lady didn't have the proper gifts to pull off the role at that point in her life.
     
  4. JohnMor

    JohnMor Producer
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    I think it's an unfairly maligned film. It plays much better today without competing against the more stereotypically 70's fare it was up against. Maybe a director with a stronger visual sense would have added a little something more. Especially for the visually bland ending.
    Yes, it should have been Angela Lansbury, but Lucy was wonderful, if miscast. She plays it differently, but still legitimately. She gives 150% and really only falls short in her singing, but still more listenable than the leads of Camelot and Paint Your Wagon. And her dancing was okay. I don't think it was quite the cheat that Matt makes it out to be. I think the cast is uniformly excellent, with Bea Arthur, Doria Cook and the fabulous Jane Connell even surpassing Coral Browne, Joanna Barnes and Peggy Cass from Auntie Mame. And the musical arrangements are absolutely superb. At the time no one was very happy: fans of the show wanted Angela (or at least someone younger and more musical) and many fans of Lucy want to see a musical with the character of Lucy, and not Lucille Ball. But luckily now people are discovering it without any of the PR baggage that surrounded its release.
     
  5. ahollis

    ahollis Producer

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    I enjoy musicals and do own MAME on DVD and previously owned it on Laser. Saw it in the theatres when it came out and Warners did support it when it was first released.

    I pull it a few times a year an enjoy it, I just which it was in stereo.

    It is a flawed film and IMHO most of that falls on Lucy's shoulders. While she tries her darnedest to pull it over and at times she does succeed, the use of soft focus on her close-ups really takes me away from the film. As talked about above her dancing is muted some and that was due to her broken leg, which was written in to her show at the time while she was in a cast with pretty hilarious results.

    I do wish they had left the song "That's How Young I Feel" in. It is a very exuberant number, but in the long run it did not move the story along much.

    I know that I will open a can of worms, but I do enjoy MAME for the CAMELOT.
     
  6. Panavision70

    Panavision70 Stunt Coordinator

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    It's a delightful film! It should have been Oscar nominated for Theadora Van Runkle's costumes.
     
  7. bryan4999

    bryan4999 Supporting Actor

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    Yes, and this is what I meant about my earlier comment of the script being diluted - in the non-musical Auntie Mame the scene where Mame visits the Upsons is hilarious, and in the stage musical is exuberant with the song - in the film, Mame is just bored. No repartee, no veiled insults. That scene needed a song or something!
     
  8. JohnMor

    JohnMor Producer
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    Now I have to disagree with this. I think the scene is hilarious in Mame, mainly due to Lucy's reactions. It's far more subtle than it was in Auntie Mame but very funny none the less.
     
  9. Louis Letizia

    Louis Letizia Supporting Actor

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    Both Lucy and Bra Arthur garnered GlobE noms..1974 was a banner year for the Ball home. If the right push were given come Oscar time...there could have been Oscar nominations for Lucy AND her husband Gary Morton for his excelllent performance in LENNY. There have been far worst performances nominated for Oscars than Lucy's. (I would have liked to have seen Bra Arthur get the nomination over eventual winner that year Ingrid Bergman giving a truly cringe worthy performance in MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS). It seemed unfair that Helen Hayes was also given an Oscar for a Lucy like performance in AIRPORT and yet Lucy was lambssted.
    I'm far from a musical expert...but Balls poor singing added a reality to Mame....it was a the croaking...hoarse strewn voice of a lifelong boozer that was MAME.
    I still get chills at the title song....gauze or not...she never looked more beautiful. And her rendition of If He Walked into My Life was more heartwrenching and poignant than Landsburys much more polished cold version. Its a song that means even more to me today and as orchestrated itLucys most shining :rolleyes: was one of more shining moments....she gave heart to Mane. Throughout AUNTIE MAME we were aware of Russell acting throughout.
    Funny....on her 25th a niversary of being on Tv.....America finally did not really Love Lucy
     
  10. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer
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    I remember that Golden Globes broadcast. Lucy was placed at a table front and center, and I think it appeared the producers of the show obviously felt she and her film were going to go home big winners. And yet, surprise, surprise, Raquel Welch was deemed the winner that year for The Three Musketeers. and Mame lost to The Longest Yard. Supporting Actress that year went to Karen Black for The Great Gatsby.
     
  11. KPmusmag

    KPmusmag Supporting Actor
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    This is for the 2 other people besides myself who actually like this movie. ;)


    In a fit of nostalgia, I was playing some LP's, when I came across the special gatefold promotional release of the MAME lp that came out at Christmas 1973, with Lucy in the Santa hat on the front and her note on the back saying "See you at Easter with Mame." I had always thought it was identical to the release LP, but I was startled to discover that the mix of "it's Today" is different, especially the dance portion. I think it is the same orchestration, but mixed rather diffrently. I know that the orchestration of It's Today in the "Lucky Mame" featurette is totally different, sounding much more Roaring 20s, so there obviously a lot of changes going on.


    I had long known of an alternate take of "Bosom Buddies", perhaps the same orchestration, but a very different mix. Also, Vera's line "Do you have a quarter for the john?" is in the middle of the song, after "you should keep your natural..." rather than before the start of the song as in the finished film. Bea Arthur's reading of the "natural hair" line is different, and, among other things, the drum kit is mixed way hotter toward the end. This alternate take was included on the 3-lp set called "Warner Bros.: 50 years of Film Music", a silver box set. The copyright date is 1973, so the song was obviously rescored and maybe re-filmed at some point later.

    You can hear short samples demonstrating these observations at: kplistentothis.tumblr.com
    You do not need a tumblr account, but you do need this password: 27697205207
     
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  12. KPmusmag

    KPmusmag Supporting Actor
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    M_LP_gate3.JPG

    M_LP_gate2.JPG

    M_LP_gate1.JPG

    M_LP_gate41.JPG
     
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  13. Panavision70

    Panavision70 Stunt Coordinator

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    Thank you Kevin!!


    This post is delightful!


    And thank you for posting the 1776 Overture. It's nice to hear what all the fuss is about. The Overture is very well put together.
     
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  14. Stan

    Stan Producer
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    To answer the title of this thread, yes, Mame is truly awful.

    The Rosalind Russell version is far superior to Lucy's. The Lucy version is almost painful to watch it's so poorly done, and she didn't have the talent to pull off that character.
     
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  15. Rob_Ray

    Rob_Ray Screenwriter
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    While I prefer Roz' version, there's lots to like about Lucy's MAME as well. It doesn't deserve the disparaging reputation it's received over the years. Yes, Lucy's too old and to quote Ethel Mertz, she sings like "a moose with a head cold", but where Roz is acting for the balcony giving a stage performance, Lucy is a real person. Just compare the hangover scene early on ("Patrick please! You're Auntie Mame is hung!") Lucy is hung over. Roz is just getting a laugh.


    The orchestrations are superb. The script tightened the rambling original quite nicely, combining two characters and eliminating others. The set design is impressive, the costumes are elegant. The supporting cast behind Lucy is top notch. For me, MAME is not truly awful, but could have been much better, of course, if Angela Lansbury had done it.
     
  16. Everett Stallings

    Everett Stallings Supporting Actor

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    I don't think the film was that bad, just Lucy's voice. I have the DVD. I was a projectionist on the opening night

    in Balto. City, and we had only one person for the first show . He sat in the first row. Big Lucy fan?
     
  17. PODER

    PODER Second Unit

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    If you enjoy it, that's really all that matters.
     
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  18. Panavision70

    Panavision70 Stunt Coordinator

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    Fantasy casting ideas...


    When Lucy broke her leg the producers could have paid her off and recast with Liza Minnelli. She was a hot ticket after the opening of "Cabaret." Mame could be in 20s at the beginning. Madeline Kahn could play Vera and Burt Reynolds as Beau. That would have been hot box office in 1973.


    Although as I write this I realize the part for Minnelli to play is Gooch. Jane Fonda could have played Mame.
     
  19. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer
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    When I saw Mame on Broadway for the first time, Janis Paige had replaced Angela after two sold out years, and her Vera was Audrey Christie, the same Audrey Christie who plays Mrs. Upson in Lucy/Mame.
     
  20. JohnMor

    JohnMor Producer
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    I do wonder what it would have been like if Madeline Kahn had not been fired from playing Gooch. She would have been wonderful. But I adore Jane Connell and I think she was perfect. As I said above, I think she, Beatrice Arthur and Doria Cook were even better than their counterparts from Auntie Mame, and that's no mean feat.
     

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