If you've never seen it, now is the perfect time, as this is a film not to be missed. 5 Stars

During her career in film, Rosalind Russell appeared in about fifty films.

It was around 1939, or about twenty films in, that she began to receive duly warranted star billing. And after The Women, and her fast-talking, wise-cracking Hildy Johnson in His Girl Friday, she was a star.

Moving comfortably between Broadway and Hollywood, she opened in the adaptation of Patrick Dennis’ novel Auntie Mame at the Broadhurst on Halloween 1956, and that treat ended up placing her front and center in Warner Bros. production, directed by Morton DaCosta (who had directed her on Broadway), in the film of the same name.

True to its theater roots, the film version is slightly stage-bound, but that’s not a bad thing, as it accurately replicates the original work, opened up, where necessary.

Auntie Mame opened as Warner’s Christmas production in 1958, and I saw it at a theater in Philadelphia, during the holidays.

On a big screen.

My memory of it, placed it on interesting turf, as like Sayonara, The Big Country, and The Vikings, it was an early Technirama production, which had the look and textures of many of the roadshow, 70mm productions to which I was becoming familiar.

Technirama was, like VistaVision, a double frame process, which yielded extraordinary results, whether reduction printed via matrices to 35mm dye transfer prints, by Technicolor, or like Spartacus, released in 70mm, with each print struck from the original camera negative.

Warner Archive has taken the sixty year-old film elements, and created a magnificent Blu-ray edition.

Gorgeous finely grained film elements, yield a wonderfully highly resolved image, with superb color, and beautiful black levels, Auntie Mame is once again, in “treat” category.

If you’ve never seen it, now is the perfect time, as this is a film not to be missed. And certainly not to be confused with the 1974 musical version, starring Lucille Ball.

This is the great one.

Did I mention that Auntie Mame was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Actress (Rosalind Russell), Actress in a Supporting Role (Peggy Cass), Art Direction, Cinematography (Harry Stradling, Sr.), Film Editing (William Ziegler)…

and Best Picture?

Image – 5

Audio – 5

Pass / Fail – Pass

Upgrade from DVD – You’d better believe it!

Very Highly Recommended

RAH

Published by

Robert Harris

editor,member

jauritt

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Mar 13, 2011
Messages
124
Reaction score
82
Points
10
Age
66
Location
Warrington, PA
Real Name
Jay Auritt
Auntie Mame opened as Warner's Christmas production in 1958, and I saw it at a theater in Philadelphia, during the holidays.
I was born and raised in Philadelphia and, as a movie lover, some of my favorite memories were going downtown to see a film (in those days that was about the only way you could see a first-run movie) at one of the many movie palaces (The Boyd Theater, The Fox Theater, etc.)

Just for the sake of going down memory lane on Thanksgiving, any chance you remember the theater in which you saw "Auntie Mame"?
 
  • Like
Reactions: Darby67

Robert Harris

Archivist
Reviewer
Joined
Feb 8, 1999
Messages
12,815
Reaction score
16,528
Points
9,110
Real Name
Robert Harris
I was born and raised in Philadelphia and, as a movie lover, some of my favorite memories were going downtown to see a film (in those days that was about the only way you could see a first-run movie) at one of the many movie palaces (The Boyd Theater, The Fox Theater, etc.)

Just for the sake of going down memory lane on Thanksgiving, any chance you remember the theater in which you saw "Auntie Mame"?
I recall seeing Zhivago in Center City, possibly at the Boyd, but Mame, being 35, might have been at the Bala, where I believe I also saw Ten Commandments.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Darby67 and jauritt

OliverK

Producer
Joined
Feb 1, 2000
Messages
4,248
Reaction score
2,170
Points
4,110
With this being a large format production it would be interesting to know if Warner worked from the camera negative or an IP? And if they used an IP did they go from a large format IP or a reduction element?

In any case glad to read that it looks that good, the archive has been doing a fantastic job with their Blu-ray releases.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Darby67

rsmithjr

Screenwriter
Joined
Oct 22, 2011
Messages
1,228
Reaction score
676
Points
1,610
Age
75
Location
Palo Alto, CA
Real Name
Robert Smith
There has been quite a discussion in another thread about stereo tracks for Auntie Mame. If I can ask: was it in stereo originally, is the Blu-ray stereo, and if not, what happened to the stereo?

Also, I find a lot of stylistic similarity between Mame and The Music Man, also a Warners Technirama production directed by original Broadway director DaCosta. Any comments?
 

Robert Harris

Archivist
Reviewer
Joined
Feb 8, 1999
Messages
12,815
Reaction score
16,528
Points
9,110
Real Name
Robert Harris
There has been quite a discussion in another thread about stereo tracks for Auntie Mame. If I can ask: was it in stereo originally, is the Blu-ray stereo, and if not, what happened to the stereo?

Also, I find a lot of stylistic similarity between Mame and The Music Man, also a Warners Technirama production directed by original Broadway director DaCosta. Any comments?
I've never heard of the film being in stereo, and have found no information proving that it ever was.
 

lionel59

Supporting Actor
Joined
Apr 29, 2009
Messages
606
Reaction score
264
Points
610
Age
60
Location
Melbourne, Australia
Real Name
Michael Robert Lionel Evans
Thanks for the review and information on Technirama. I saw a good 35mm print in NYC in 1981, when revival houses daily showed classics. Prior to this,I had only viewed it cropped on tv.
Morton Da Costa used the 'iris fade out' technique in this movie and in THE MUSIC MAN, a theatrical device which I believe was utilized in early cinema (and effectively employed in THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS). I think MUSIC MAN is Da Costa's best movie. More cinematic than AUNTIE MAME,though both movies have artfully preserved their Broadway originals for posterity.
The Warner orchestra with its Loony Tunes ambience is a perfect fit with AUNTIE MAME, as the broad performances give the film the impact of a cartoon with real people. MUSIC MAN is also akin to this, but to a lesser degree. I have not read the libretto of the play, but the screenplay cleverly implies the word 'bastard' which would have been impermissible in 1958. (BRIGADOON did something similar with 'bitches' in both the play and movie)
The great success of this movie for Warners no doubt led to Roz being cast in GYPSY (after Ethel Merman and Judy Garland were rejected) and the decision to film MAME in 1973. The latter film is flawed (Lisa Kirk's reportedly recorded tracks should have been used for Lucy's songs and the soft focusing was overdone), but nonetheless it has great character actors and actresses, nifty editing and a stunning title sequence. Lucy is also underrated. I recall reading a fair review in the New York Times which cited its merits and faults but was basically positive. Hopefully, Warner Archive will release it on blu ray soon. Until they do, we at least have this version in an eye-popping transfer to feast on. After all, 'life's a banquet,and most poor....... 'etc!
 
  • Like
Reactions: JohnMor and Darby67

Race Bannon

Supporting Actor
Joined
Oct 21, 2015
Messages
671
Reaction score
489
Points
610
Real Name
Jay
Pre-ordered. Cha-ching. I've never seen this moobie show.
 

Robert Harris

Archivist
Reviewer
Joined
Feb 8, 1999
Messages
12,815
Reaction score
16,528
Points
9,110
Real Name
Robert Harris
With this being a large format production it would be interesting to know if Warner worked from the camera negative or an IP? And if they used an IP did they go from a large format IP or a reduction element?

In any case glad to read that it looks that good, the archive has been doing a fantastic job with their Blu-ray releases.
The image harvest is derived from an actual 8-perf Technirama IP.

Quality is superb.
 

John Skoda

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Oct 26, 2005
Messages
223
Reaction score
69
Points
110
I listened to the GYPSY soundtrack album recently, and musically a great thing that AUNTIE MAME and THE MUSIC MAN had in their favor was Ray Heindorf.

I think Heindorf really knew the "Warners sound" and arranged for it. The "sound" is there in GYPSY, but often orchestra sections are way out of balance.
 

notmicro

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
May 2, 2014
Messages
61
Reaction score
85
Points
10
Real Name
Mark M
The image harvest is derived from an actual 8-perf Technirama IP.

Quality is superb.
Thanks Be To The Gods! Sometimes you really do get lucky...

VistaVision wish-list: Lucy Gallant and the Seven Little Foys - both 1955/Paramount
 

KPmusmag

Screenwriter
Joined
Sep 9, 2011
Messages
1,075
Reaction score
1,248
Points
1,610
Location
Henderson, NV
Real Name
Kevin Parcher
I have not read the libretto of the play, but the screenplay cleverly implies the word 'bastard' which would have been impermissible in 1958.
In fact, the script of the play does include the word "bastard". While the word does not offend me in any way, I actually think the movie adjustment is funnier and more clever.

There is also a similar change in GYPSY, in the "Gotta Get A Gimmick" number: The stage lyric "Grind your behind 'til you're banned" turned into "Grind 'til you're fined or you're banned". Such an inconsequential change in that case but I guess it passed the censors.

Both the book and musical versions of AUNTIE MAME are favorites of mine and I am thrilled about this blu-ray.

BTRD.JPG
 

haineshisway

Producer
Joined
Oct 26, 2011
Messages
4,597
Reaction score
5,398
Points
4,110
Location
Los Angeles
Real Name
Bruce
I listened to the GYPSY soundtrack album recently, and musically a great thing that AUNTIE MAME and THE MUSIC MAN had in their favor was Ray Heindorf.

I think Heindorf really knew the "Warners sound" and arranged for it. The "sound" is there in GYPSY, but often orchestra sections are way out of balance.
I don't believe Mr. Heindorf had anything to do with Gypsy - its musical direction was by Frank Perkins, if I remember correctly.
 

MatthewA

Lead Actor
Joined
Apr 19, 2000
Messages
8,889
Reaction score
2,536
Points
9,110
Age
37
Location
Salinas, CA
Real Name
Matthew
I've never been prouder that Rosalind Russell and I have the same birthplace: Waterbury, Connecticut. Sounds like another winner from the Warner Archive. I wish another studio based in Burbank that used to make watches in Waterbury would sit up and take notice. There weren't many extras but they're still there. Meanwhile, her co-star in The Trouble With Angels made two wonderful movies that got fully loaded DVDs and barebones Blu-rays.

There is also a similar change in GYPSY, in the "Gotta Get A Gimmick" number: The stage lyric "Grind your behind 'til you're banned" turned into "Grind 'til you're fined or you're banned". Such an inconsequential change in that case but I guess it passed the censors.
View attachment 42037
They also managed to preserve the rhyme structure though it came at the expense of the alliteration of "behind" and "banned".

Of course, by the time My Fair Lady came to the screen two years later, the bloomin' arses and damns—outnumbering those of Rhett Butler, an anachronistic reference in Lucy's Mame—came with it. Nearly two decades later, when the Production Code was dead and buried, Carol Sobieski put language far from pure into Annie to avoid the stigma of a G rating*, and a decade after that the subsequent Gypsy TV stagings kept the uncensored line.

*Speaking of anachronisms, you can't give them flack for being three years early to Camille and still let Who Framed Roger Rabbit off the hook for being two years early with Goofy Gymnastics and 10 years early with Frank Sinatra's "Witchcraft" as the singing sword's song. None of these anachronisms are arbitrary, however. John Huston co-wrote the screenplay to Jezebel in which Bette Davis (a "Let's Go to the Movies" reference) makes a mention of Camille. With the rabbit, Sinatra, of course, co-starred with another Disney hybrid star (none of the animated characters from either of the studio's 1970s hybrids appeared even though their films were set before 1947), Angela Lansbury, in The Manchurian Candidate. Her first husband, Richard Cromwell, was also in Jezebel.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: PMF