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Mama Rose lives to see her daughter June succeed on Broadway by way of vaudeville. When June marries and leaves, Rose turns her hope and attention to her elder, less obviously talented, daughter Louise. However, having her headlining as a stripper at Minsky's Burlesque is not what she initially has in mind. Written by
Jeremy Perkins <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Although Rosalind Russell's character is always referred to as "Mama Rose" in reviews and discussions of this film, the character is never addressed that way by anyone in the movie; the closest anyone comes is "Madame Rose". See more »
Rose says Herbie, as Uncle Jocko, gets, "Six girls, semi-talented." However, there are definitely more than six girls who run out as the Toreadorables, and possibly two more as the Bull. See more »
Opening credits are superimposed on a closed stage curtain, below which is an orchestra and conductor, performing the film's overture. The overture has been truncated from the stage version's original overture, but is otherwise quite faithful to it. See more »
Everythings Comin' Up Rose for Those Who See Gypsy
Let's start out with this: Just because an actress or actor was a hit in a Broadway Show doesn't mean that they are perfect for the movie version. Ethel Merman was great as Madam Rose on Broadway, but she's never been a crowd pleaser in the movies. It's true that she did the movie version of her Broadway hit "Call Me Madam" but it was not her name that brought the people to the movie theaters; it was Donald O'Connor, Vera Ellen, George Saunders and Billy De Wolfe. Even in "There's No Business Like Show Business" the cast of Dan Daily, Mitzi Gaynor and Johnny Ray were the ones who brought the paying movie public to the theaters. It's true that at one time 20th Century Fox was going to film "Gypsy" with Ethel Merman and Mitzi Gaynor playing Gypsy Rose Lee, but that didn't pan out, so Warners bought the rights and Rosalind Russells husband made a deal that would give Rosalind Russell the right to make the movie.
So, what about Rosalind Russell singing her songs: In Rosalind Russells autobiography she states, "No matter what anyone says, that's Roz up there singing the songs". Well, that's not exactly true and one of the proofs is that on the soundtrack album they don't give Russell the credit for singing her songs. Actually most of the singing was done by her, but when it came to "Everythings Coming Up Rose" she just couldn't hit the ball into the outer-field, so Warners paid Lisa Kirk a hefty sum for dubbing that song for Russell. Now, whether Natalie Wood could or could not sing is not a problem. After all, neither could Gypsy Rose Lee, but Woods numbers at the end of the film as the stripper are excellent, and she favored Gypsy Rose Lee more than Mitzy Gaynor would have.
So, why doesn't a lot of people like this movie version of Gypsy? Well, to thoroughly enjoy it, stop comparing Russell with Merman. That's a beginning. Merman could not bring the people into the movie theaters, maybe so on Broadway, but there is not enough Broadway fans out there to pay for the cost of the movie, but there were with Rosalind Russell, Natalie Wood, and Carl Malden. The next thing: You have to see this movie in a movie theater where you can experience the sweeping Technirama Wide Screen process with Stereophonic Sound. Seeing this movie on T.V. doesn't get it although if you can get a Letter-Box Version of it with a very big T.V. screen, it can be quite enjoyable, but the movie theater is the best place!
As far as other versions of Gypsy are concerned: Bette Midler was awful in the role of Madam Rose. They should have lowered her singing into a lower key. She just sounded like she was straining to get to her top notes that you wondered if she was going to make it, and even though Midler said she was born to play Madam Rose; "Oh no she wasn't!" Bad version. Didn't have the slick quality of the movie. I saw Mitzi Green do it on the stage, and even though she was no Ethel Merman, she did a great job in the road company. Joann Whorley of Laugh in Fame played Madam Rose at Dayton, Ohio's "Kenley Theater" and she quite frankly rocked the joint. She was loud, brassy and wonderful, but if anyone is Ethel Mermans successor, it's Tyne Daly who played Rose at Lincoln Center and won a Tony, and the critics said that "Merman would be proud!" So, even though I'm not really a fan of Rosalind Russell, if you erase Merman from your mind, this is a wonderful, rousing, screen adaptation of "Gypsy" and it shouldn't be missed!
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