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Call Me Madam (1953)

 -  Comedy | Musical | Romance  -  April 1953 (USA)
7.0
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 798 users  
Reviews: 44 user | 5 critic

Washington hostess Sally Adams becomes a Truman-era US ambassador to a European grand duchy.

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(musical "Call Me Madam"), (musical "Call Me Madam"), 1 more credit »
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Won 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 4 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Sally Adams
...
Kenneth Gibson
...
...
General Cosmo Constantine
...
Pemberton Maxwell
Helmut Dantine ...
Prince Hugo
Walter Slezak ...
August Tantinnin
Steven Geray ...
Prime Minister Sebastian
Ludwig Stössel ...
Grand Duke Otto (as Ludwig Stossel)
...
Grand Duchess Sophie
Charles Dingle ...
Sen. Brockway
Emory Parnell ...
Sen. Charlie Gallagher
Percy Helton ...
Sen. Wilkins
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Storyline

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 L. Hamre

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

April 1953 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Irving Berlin's Call Me Madam  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

A running gag in the movie has Sally Adams taking calls from President Harry Truman, and receiving bad news about his daughter Margaret's singing career. ("Even in Denver? Well, the opera critics don't know everything. She made money, didn't she?") During her father's administration, Margaret Truman went on tour as an opera singer. Her performances always attracted large crowds, but opera critics often panned her singing. After one particularly harsh review, Harry Truman sent a personal letter to the critic: "Some day I hope to meet you. When that happens you'll need a new nose, a lot of beefsteak for black eyes, and perhaps a supporter below!" See more »

Quotes

Congressman: Sally, you wouldn't like me to make a little farewell speech tonight?
Sally Adams: That's right. I wouldn't!
See more »

Crazy Credits

During the opening credits, as each word in the title appears onscreen, we hear, but do not see, Ethel Merman exclaiming, in a demanding tone of voice: "Call..me..madam!" See more »

Connections

Referenced in Whose Line Is It Anyway?: Series 1 Compilation 1 (1988) See more »

Soundtracks

Marrying for Love
Written by Irving Berlin
Performed by George Sanders
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Call Her MERMAN!
15 September 2004 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Ethel Merman was unique in the annals of the American Musical Theater -she was responsible for the success of more shows, and introduced more songs that became Broadway standards (and by the best composers) than any other performer - even Mary Martin and Gwen Verdon never quite de-throned the First Lady of Musical Theater. But Merman is one of those whose talent didn't quite transcend the big screen, despite several attempts. Anyone seeing her on the screen today may well wonder what all the fuss was about, but take it from an eyewitness: Merman was a force of nature who had to be seen live to be appreciated - when she set foot on a stage, she OWNED that stage, the scenery, and every seat, patron, and brick of that theater.

Although it came along too late to make her a real movie star (she was in her mid-40s already and, unfortunately, wasn't aging gracefully), CALL ME MADAM is her best movie, and gives us the closest approximation of how the Merman magic lit up the stage (and the box-office). MADAM was very much a star vehicle, the kind they don't have today (let's face it: because they don't have such stars), and there wouldn't have been any point in filming it with anyone else - every situation, line, lyric and note of music was tailored to her style, personality, and, of course, voice (aside from the fact that the show is very dated politically, that's the other reason it was seldom revived without her. GYPSY, though a much better show, was considered a sacred Merman vehicle until Angela Lansbury tackled it in 1973 - it's been revived regularly ever since). Merman was known for 'freezing' a performance, seldom varying it by a syllable throughout a show's long run, and often claimed to be thinking about her grocery list while she was belting out a song. Though she probably 'tweaked' her performance for the screen, what we see here is very likely the way she played Sally Adams hundreds of times before and after the movie.

Although she certainly dominates the proceedings, Merman surprisingly doesn't hog the show (she even gave one of her songs over to Donald O'Connor, "Something To Dance About") - everyone gets their chance to shine, from George Sanders (not playing a cad for once, and displaying an excellent singing voice) to the wonderful Donald O'Connor and Vera-Ellen. O'Connor was riding the crest of his success in SINGIN' IN THE RAIN, and he's almost as good here - his performance is a joy, whether dancing with Vera-Ellen, by himself, or teaming up with Merman for the legendary duet of "You're Just In Love" that stopped the show cold on-stage (he was fond of saying that one of the Merm's high notes bent his eardrum!).

So pop this one in, sit back and have a wonderful time watching several seasoned troupers doing what they did best - entertaining!


12 of 15 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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