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Boisterous, fun-loving, and popular Washington D.C. hostess Sally Adams is appointed U.S. Ambassador to the Grand Duchy of Lichtenburg, Europe's smallest country. In Lichtenburg, the Duke and Duchess are negotiating a political marriage for their niece, Princess Maria in exchange for a substantial dowry. However, the country is desperate for funds, and turns to the inexperienced ambassador for a much needed U.S. loan. Sally refuses to talk money, that is, until she meets the ultra charming Gen. Cosmo Constantine. Meanwhile, Sally's press attaché Kenneth Gibson falls head over heels for Princess Maria. Written by
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is an acquired taste. Apparently enough folks developed it enough to keep Ethel's shows running for a couple of decades.
One of the "Queens of Broadway" (with Mary Martin) Ethel Merman's brassy voice belted through many a record-breaking run, thrilling thousands.
What a rare treat to see her in a role she made her own! "Call Me Madam" is a dandy musical, rich with a great Irving Berlin score and lively performances.
Equally rare is the excellent singing performance of George Sanders. His beautiful baritone is heard in "It's an Old-fashioned Idea" and other lovely ballads. As he played Gen. Constantine, I couldn't help but wonder how his reported troubled private life might have gone had he done more light, musical fare.
Sanders' whole demeanor is different: he's warm, relaxed, sincere and fun-filled--what a departure from the cynical cads he was almost always engaged to portray! [N. B. History shows he was signed to star in a stage production of "South Pacific," and his recording of solo ballads, "The Sanders Touch: Songs to the Lovely Lady"--released five years after this film--has become one of the hottest collectors' items around.] All I can say is, his singing is gorgeous in "Call Me Madam."
If this Fox musical has the somewhat look and feel of an MGM production, there's Donald O'Conner and Vera-Ellen lending their aura from the latter studio. Director Walter Lang, an old-hand at Fox musicals and light comedies, keeps things on track, while Bob Alton's dances really hit-the-mark.
"Call Me Madam" is a most delightful diversion, and a lasting testament to the gifted Merman--the "hostest with the mostest."
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