It's 1884 in Yonkers, New York. Dolly Gallagher-Levi is a Jane-of-all-Trades, but her latest and most lucrative venture is as a matchmaker, setting men up with women with the intention of matrimony. This job is ironic as she was previously married herself, not enjoying the experience. Her latest client is older penny-pinching retail store owner, Horace Vandergelder, who works his two young meek clerks, Cornelius Hackl and Barnaby Tucker, to the bone. As Horace won't give them a day off, Cornelius and Barnaby plot to close the store and sneak into New York for the day, their mission to meet and kiss a girl. In New York, Cornelius spots Irene Molloy, a young female milliner upon who he sets his sights. On their meeting, Cornelius is unaware that she is also one of Horace's possible brides. Beyond what happens between Horace, Cornelius and Irene, Dolly herself may be ready for matrimony again despite her words to the contrary. Written by
The stage version of "The Matchmaker" opened in New York on December 5, 1955 at the Royale Theatre and closed on February 2, 1957 at the Booth Theatre. Ruth Gordon starred as Dolly Levi and Loring Smith as Horace Vandergelder. Robert Morse as Barnaby Tucker was the only actor to reprise his role in the movie version. See more »
As he's preparing to leave Vandergelder's store, Joe Scanlon refers to Mr. Vandergelder as Mr. Handergelder. See more »
Dolly "Gallagher" Levi:
Money, pardon the expression, is like manure. It's not worth a thing unless it's spread around, encouraging young things to grow.
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After a lifetime of arranging couplings for others Dolly Levi has decided it's time that she settle down with somebody. Her target in her sights is merchant Horace Vandergelder in turn of the last century Yonkers, New York. Of course Horace the old goat is looking at young Irene Molloy. What to do, especially since his young clerk Cornelius Hackl has eyes for her also.
Shirley Booth who originated many parts on the Broadway stage, but had few screen credits up to that time takes over the role that Ruth Gordon played on stage in the 1955-1957 season for 481 performances. Another Shirley named MacLaine with few screen credits at that point to her name plays young Irene.
And the object of all this fuss is potbellied old Paul Ford giving one of his patented bellowing performances. It was interesting to read how Ford had come to the acting profession rather late in life. He certainly is ham enough that you wonder why didn't do this all of his life. Ford had just completed a four year run as the harried and harassed Colonel Hall, object of many of Sergeant Bilko's con games in the Phil Silvers Show. For most of his career Ford was a blusterer whether here or in The Music Man or Never Too Late. He looked a lot like Edgar Kennedy, but his boiling point was always quickly reached.
Anthony Perkins who really did other things besides Norman Bates in Psycho is just fine as the wistful young clerk at Ford's mercantile and he's partnered in his adventures by young Robert Morse who repeated his stage role as Barnaby Tucker.
Of course most know The Matchmaker as the basis for Hello Dolly and seeing it now is like seeing Shaw's Pygmalion which for better or worse is now known as My Fair Lady without the songs. Still The Matchmaker is fun to watch for the nostalgically inclined.
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