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Mame is an unconventional individualist socialite from the roaring 20's. When her brother dies, she is forced to raise her nephew Patrick. However, Patrick's father has designated an executor to his will to protect the boy from absorbing too much of Mame's rather unconventional perspective. Patrick and Mame become devoted to each other in spite of this restriction, and together journey through Patrick's childhood and the great depression, amidst some rather zaney adventures. Written by
Ross Thompson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The line, "Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death," does not appear in the book. It is derived from the stage play, where it was originally, "Life is a banquet and most poor sons-of-bitches are starving to death." Though "damn" and "hell" are both heard in the film, "sons-of-bitches" was apparently thought too rough. See more »
Even though "Auntie Mame" takes place between 1928 and 1946, most of the clothing and furnishings are of a 1950's mid-century modern style. Telltale items are the sofas in Mame's apartment in the opening scenes, the seating that raises and lowers, and the grown Patrick's narrow lapel suit. See more »
[talking to her relatives]
'afternoon to y'all! Vultures!
Now Mrs. Burnside, I hope you don't think of me as a vulture!
Oh, no, Sally Cato! You're not a vulture, you're just a dead pidgeon!
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When "Auntie Mame" was first published, I read and re-read it (and its sequel, "Around the World with Auntie Mame") for several summers. Believe it or not, the books are even funnier than the film. They were not "memoirs," though that was the PR at the time. Edward Everett Tanner, or "Patrick Dennis," ultimately admitted as much. Auntie Mame was a creation from Tanner's own talented imagination.
No one ever has, or ever will, embody Auntie Mame as well as Rosalind Russell, who, by the time her Broadway performance in the role was filmed, had honed her portrayal to one of the finest in American theatre and film.
Listen to her vocal technique: from high girlish squeals to basso-profundo sarcasm.
Or watch her remarkable body language throughout -- from grande dame theatricality to lowbrow burlesque.
Russell's supporting players are magnificent -- from the 12-year old Jan Handzlik, through Coral Browne, Peggy Cass, Forrest Tucker, Fred Clark, Patrick Knowles, Connie Gilchrist, Yuki Shimoda, Robin Hughes, Roger Smith, Pippa Scott -- and, my own particular favorites who almost, but not quite, steal their scenes from Miss Russell: Willard Waterman, Lee Patrick and Joanna Barnes as the unforgettable Upsons.
George James Hopkins' brilliant sets and set design, and Orry-Kelly's amazing costumes, along with Branislau Kaper's score and Morton Da Costa's direction are like Tiffany settings, showing off this flawless cast at the top of their form.
Lawrence and Lee's original Broadway script was adapted by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, whose main contribution would appear to be the hydraulic furniture at the final dinner party.
The famous line, originally from the Broadway play and not found in the novel, is "Life is a banquet! And most poor sons-of-bitches are starving to death!" "Damn" and "hell" both are heard in the film: but "sons-of-bitches" was apparently too strong for the MPAA in 1958.
Is the film dated? I suppose. In the same way that "Citizen Kane" is dated, or "Some Like It Hot." It's also timeless. And Miss Russell's performance, here at the zenith of her long and distinguished comedic and dramatic career (Eugene O'Neill's "Mourning Becomes Electra," anybody?) is an acting lesson unto itself.
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