3 Stars

618p+5G1ejL._SX522_.

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Robert Crawford

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Yeah, I never liked this movie. I wasn't a fan of musicals back then, but even I thought Lucille Ball was miscast for this film as I thought "Auntie Mame" was a better film version with Rosalind Russell being rightly cast. Just my humble opinion.
 

Dick

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Yeah, I never liked this movie. I wasn't a fan of musicals back then, but even I thought Lucille Ball was miscast for this film as I thought "Auntie Mame" was a better film version with Rosalind Russell being rightly cast. Just my humble opinion.
In complete agreement with you. Nice cover art, though.
 
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Matt Hough

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This release will be both reviled and welcomed.
I agree. I'm always happy for more musicals to come to Blu-ray, but having seen the Broadway stage version twice (once with Janis Paige and then with Ann Miller), the movie with Lucy is a feeble representation of the vastly entertaining stage original.
 
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Will Krupp

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This release will be both reviled and welcomed.
Often by the same people!! :)

I, for one, can't WAIT (bring it on, I will remain unbowed!) as this has always been a guilty pleasure of mine. I was raised on it. It was also one of my ex's absolute favorites and was one of the two movies (HELLO, DOLLY being the other) I knew could lift his spirits if he was having a bad day.

Plus, say what you want about Lucy in the title role, we DO get the priceless Bea Arthur recreating her Broadway turn as Vera!

 

RBailey

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It's a shame that Madeline Kahn was fired from this film. Would have loved to see her as Agnes Gooch.
 

MatthewA

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It's a shame that Madeline Kahn was fired from this film. Would have loved to see her as Agnes Gooch.
Even if she would have been good in it, she might have lost out on the role of Lily Von Shtupp in Blazing Saddles and thus her Oscar nomination.

Lucy's reaction to the negative criticism was to give up on movies altogether. She reacted similarly 12 years later after the public rejected Life With Lucy,* which, coincidentally, we just were talking about on another thread.

After getting to see Bette Midler in Hello, Dolly! on Broadway, I recently volunteered as an usher at a production of Mame for the South Bay Musical Theatre in Sunnyvale, CA. Even in a smaller production, it still played beautifully. That's the problem with seeing Jerry Herman shows live: they won't let you join in!

*Speaking of Jerry Herman lyrics, albeit from Dolly, I recently learned the theme to that show was co-written by Joel Higgins. Yes, the Dad from Silver Spoons (where Pearl Bailey was a guest star twice) wrote a song for a show that didn't even outlive either his own show (produced by the same people as the Facts of Life, which still had enough life left to win its timeslot over Lucy) when it was in its final season (or, sadly, Desi Arnaz, Lucy's Ricky)! The singer, of course, was Eydie Gorme, who knocked "If He Walked Into My Life" out of the park with her single version when it was a new song.
 
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Thomas T

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I wasn't expecting this! I rewatched it earlier this year for the first time in ages and I don't think it's nearly as bad as its reputation. Lucy is a favourite of mine, but of course would have preferred Lansbury in the role.
If this is the Mame that we were going to be given, it's just as well Lansbury was passed over. It's really a low point in film musicals. Poor Lucille Ball is terrible and gets the brunt of the blame for the movie flopping but honestly even if Lansbury had done it, the central role would have been better performed but it would still be a bad movie.
 
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Ethan Riley

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Any notes about the sound? I think they said on an older thread that it was recorded in stereo yet released in mono?
 

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Bea Arthur was promoting her one woman show at a video bar called Sidetrack in Chicago in the late 90s. It was Showtunes night and before her entrance the VJ showed the song "Bosom Buddies" ....Bea entered after the video and the first words out of her mouth was....."I am so sorry that you had to watch any part of that fucking piece of shit movie" True story...I was there.
 

Robert Crawford

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Bea Arthur was promoting her one woman show at a video bar called Sidetrack in Chicago in the late 90s. It was Showtunes night and before her entrance the VJ showed the song "Bosom Buddies" ....Bea entered after the video and the first words out of her mouth was....."I am so sorry that you had to watch any part of that fucking piece of shit movie" True story...I was there.
Yeah, I read she disowned Mame the movie.
 
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MatthewA

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Yeah, I read she disowned Mame the movie.
I saw her one woman show when it played in Raleigh, NC in 2001, and she didn't even mention the movie despite performing "Bosom Buddies" and talking at length about the show and Angela Lansbury ("a mouth like a longshoreman," she said).

Any notes about the sound? I think they said on an older thread that it was recorded in stereo yet released in mono?
They scrapped plans to remix it in stereo because although they had the music tracks, they couldn't find Lucy's exact vocals. The ones on the soundtrack album are different, and the orchestra sounds so much richer and fuller there than it does in the flat mono film mix. (They even mentioned this in a chat right here on HTF, IIRC.) As an arranger, Ralph Burns knew how to make the most of being saddled with less-than-perfect singers, but it sounds sublime when Lucy isn't singing. Never has a movie cried out more for an isolated score track on disc.

If this is the Mame that we were going to be given, it's just as well Lansbury was passed over. It's really a low point in film musicals. Poor Lucille Ball is terrible and gets the brunt of the blame for the movie flopping but honestly even if Lansbury had done it, the central role would have been better performed but it would still be a bad movie.
Along with the story about Madeline Kahn being cast and replaced, I've heard multiple times they originally wanted George Cukor* to direct and Bette Davis, whose singing in What Ever Happened To Baby Jane rivaled Lucy's here except that film treated it as a symptom of a has-been child star's mental breakdown, to co-star as Vera. We might have gotten a film that was better than what we got but still would have paled in comparison to 1958's Auntie Mame, which still plays brisker, lighter, and funnier than this film despite being 10 minutes longer.

Part of the problem with the movie is one it inherited from the show: how the change from Auntie Mame to Mame changed Agnes Gooch by combining her character and Norah Muldoon's, who was originally Patrick's guardian who brought him to New York City. There's also the way the musical changes the ending:
the original ending of Auntie Mame had Mame buying the land next to the Upsons to house refugee European Jewish children. The musical has her buying the property but turning it into a home for unwed mothers, including but not limited to Agnes Gooch. This weakens the shock of the Upsons having their prejudices confronted in their own neighborhood!
Screenwriter Paul Zindel**, who later wrote the 1980s CBS-TV version of Alice in Wonderland, could have done something about this — like have both and make Mr. Upson's blood boil to the point where it almost turns into Scanners: The Musical — but chose not to.

It's also sadly ironic that the first person you see in Mame is John McGiver, who was in The Manchurian Candidate, playing Mr. Babcock here.***

*This was the inevitable end result of the post-My Fair Lady backlash against dubbing: 10+ years of movie musicals starring undubbed non-singers.
**His last movie before this was a Barbra Streisand movie called Up the Sandbox, released by WB in 1972 and overshadowed by What's Up, Doc? The director of the latter movie also struck out with At Long Last Love a year later.
***Years ago, my father and I watched The Manchurian Candidate on DVD and he thought McGiver was David Tomlinson!
 
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JohnMor

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Bea Arthur was promoting her one woman show at a video bar called Sidetrack in Chicago in the late 90s. It was Showtunes night and before her entrance the VJ showed the song "Bosom Buddies" ....Bea entered after the video and the first words out of her mouth was....."I am so sorry that you had to watch any part of that fucking piece of shit movie" True story...I was there.
And her husband directed it.
 

MatthewA

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He would only be her husband for four more years. The same year Maude ended, 1978, so did their marriage. All of his prior films were adaptations of Neil Simon plays, which made him seem like a good choice on paper along with having directed it on Broadway.
 
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JohnMor

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I love this film, even with it’s many flaws. Singing aside, I think Lucy’s performance is fine and I even prefer Bea Arthur and Jane Connell over their Auntie Mame counterparts Coral Browne and Peggy Cass. As the non-singer musicals of the period go, I find it vastly more entertaining than Camelot, Paint Your Wagon, Man of La Mancha, Lost Horizon and At Long Last Love.

And it does feature some the best arrangements and scoring of a movie musical, period. Sensational work on that front.
 

MatthewA

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The movie actually does revert back to Auntie Mame in an area where it deviated from it for one key scene: the meeting of Mame and Beau. In Mame on stage, she became a manicurist. In Auntie Mame and Mame the movie, she works in the toy department of Macy's.

Both the stage and screen musical also have the anachronistic "whoever thought Santa Claus would look like Rhett Butler" line regarding Beau spoken seven years before Gone With the Wind was ever published and ten years before the movie. In Auntie Mame, he's just "a Santa with a Southern accent."

The death of the Production Code gave Mame one advantage over Auntie Mame: the seven-letter word that means Mr. Babcock could actually be spoken, while the signature "life is a banquet" axiom got by similarly un-bowdlerized. That, along with actually showing the "advanced" school Mame took Patrick to, pushed the rating up to PG.
 
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