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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 in love with one of her clients, the playwright Jeffrey Moss, and is determined to meet him. The trouble is, on the phone to him, she always pretends to be an old woman whom he calls "Mom." Written by
"Bells are Ringing" is a must for Judy Holliday's fans. The bubbly star of some of the best comedies of the fifties, is the main reason for watching this musical, directed by Vincente Minnelli. Betty Comden and Adolph Green were the creators of the book and lyrics with music by Jule Styne.
The film was an excuse for showcasing Ms. Holliday and Dean Martin, who took over Sydney Chaplin's role. The two stars show an easy chemistry in their scenes together, even though the transfer to the screen seems somehow clumsy coming from an experienced director of musicals like Mr. Minnelli.
"Bells are Ringing" is a nostalgic look at the New York of the 1950s. It was quite a status symbol to have an answering service in those days before the automatic devices of today. There is a hilarious second plot involving illegal gambling by linking classical music works to the different races in several horse race tracks that are channeled through Susanswerphone service, which makes the police Ella is involved in the scheme.
Judy Holliday gave a tremendous performance in the film as the kind, but somehow naive Ella. Dean Martin is fine also as the blocked writer. In supporting roles Eddie Foy Jr., Jean Stapleton, and Dean Clark, are seen among others.
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