In squeaky-clean New York at the turn of the century, playboy Charlie Hill falls so much in love that he can walk on air. The object of his affections is beautiful Angela Bonfils, a mission... See full summary »
B.G. Bruno, a rich bachelor, the head of a successful greeting-card company in Scotland, is essentially a kind man but respectable to the point of stodginess and extreme stuffiness. An ... See full summary »
Ella Peterson is a Brooklyn telephone answering service operator who tries to improve the lives of her clients by passing along bits of information she hears from other clients. She falls ... See full summary »
Critics and the public say Karen Stone is too old -- as she approaches 50 -- for her role in a play she is about to take to Broadway. Her businessman husband, 20 years her senior, has been ... See full summary »
When Phil Corey's band arrives at the Idaho ski resort its pianist Ted Scott is smitten with a Norwegian refugee he has sponsored, Karen Benson. When soloist Vivian Dawn quits, Karen stages an ice show as a substitute.
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
Dinah Shore had to sing Ethel Merman's songs on the original cast album for the Broadway play because Merman, who had starred in the original stage production, was under contract to Decca Records, who wouldn't release her to do the album. See more »
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!
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