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A matchmaker named Dolly Levi takes a trip to Yonkers, New York to see the "well-known unmarried half-a-millionaire," Horace Vandergelder. While there, she convinces him, his two stock clerks and his niece and her beau to go to New York City. In New York, she fixes Vandergelder's clerks up with the woman Vandergelder had been courting, and her shop assistant (Dolly has designs of her own on Mr. Vandergelder, you see). Written by
Randy Goldberg <firstname.lastname@example.org>
In the chase sequence in the Harmonia Gardens restaurant, Horace Vandergelder is seen entering the fireman's pole in an anticlockwise direction. When he exits at the bottom he does so in a clockwise direction. See more »
Somewhat overblown musical, but still excellent and entertaining
This film was certainly beautiful to look at and listen to. I was lucky to see it in 70 mm during its initial roadshow release. It was one of the few movies to have the negative actually filmed in 70 mm, rather than having the standard 35 mm merely blown up to 70 mm for the roadshow. "The Sound of Music" was another picture originally filmed in 70 mm, and we all know how beautiful the cinematography was in that. Sadly, the high cost of 70 mm has essentially ended the use of that type of film format.
"Hello, Dolly!" deserved the Oscars it won, such as musical direction, sound, and art direction-set design. About 15 years ago I stopped in the riverside village of Garrison, New York, to see where it was partially filmed. The real building that was adapted into Vandergelder's Hay & Feed was still there at the time, and "Vandergelder" was etched on the window pane from its use in the film. The bridge over the railway tracks is still there.
As much as I like the film as a whole, it does have some problems that could have been easily corrected. The early scene with Walter Matthau and Tommy Tune arguing over Ermengarde is overly dramatic and simply too theatrical. It might have been fine on Broadway, but the genre of cinema requires a bit of toning down. I blame this purely on Gene Kelly, the director, who should have known better. He is the one who is supposed to sense the pacing and delivery of lines. I get the impression he was trying to speed things up, knowing that there is a lot to fit into the picture. The screenplay was naturally required to closely follow the original material, but it could have been simplified a bit without sacrificing anything important. An example of this is the endless number of times that the audience is reminded that the main characters are going "to New York" by train. Once was enough.
Still, the music and choreography are superb, and carry the picture. Not everyone in it can sing as beautifully as Barbra Streisand, but it succeeds nonetheless. The number "Put On Your Sunday Clothes" is one of Hollywood's golden moments in terms of production quality. I have seen Carol Channing do the stage version and she was great, but I also feel that Barbra Streisand was perfectly adequate here. She can sing better than Ms. Channing and has real star quality.
If you visit the interesting Hudson River area of New York state, you will be warmly reminded of the scenic beauty in "Hello, Dolly!" Drop by the U.S. Military Academy at West Point to take the public tour and you will see the magnificent setting where the final wedding scene was done, minus the church of course.
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