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It's the late 1920s. Upon the death of wealthy Chicagoan Edward Dennis, his nine-year old son Patrick Dennis becomes the ward of their only living relative, Edward's equally wealthy New York residing sister, Mame Dennis. Edward's will states that Patrick is to be raised Protestant in a "traditional" manner and that the trustee, Mr. Babcock with the Knickerbocker Bank, will pay Mame for expenses incurred in raising Patrick, he having the right of refusal to pay if he deems that the spirit of Edward's will is not honored. Mr. Babcock and Patrick's longtime nanny, the timid Agnes Gooch, are to ensure that Patrick is raised correctly. Edward included these stipulations in his will as he knows his sister is a flamboyant, free wheeling and eccentric woman who can be considered anything but traditional or conventional. Despite the disruption each provides in the other's life, Mame and Patrick form a loving, supportive relationship. Mame wants to provide her sense of guidance to Patrick, ... Written by
Lucille Ball was 3 years older than Lucille Benson, the actress who player Mother Burnside. See more »
When Mame and Beauregard do their elegant soft-shoe routine in the middle of the title number, she holds her riding crop in her left hand. When the other dancers join in, the angle changes and goes to a close-up, and as it pulls back, the riding crop is now in her right hand, though her arms were linked by the dancers from one shot to the next, and she never realistically had a chance to move it. See more »
Nearly 40 years later, this musical looks better than ever.
First off, the music and lyrics of Jerry Herman make this one of the great Broadway musicals, which happens to be based on a great play. The 1950s play and film version starred Rosalind Russell in one of the great roles of her estimable career.
The 1960s Broadway musical was a smash hit for Angela Lansbury, but Lansbury wasn't a big enough name to star in a lavish film version of the musical. In 1974 there were probably a lot of "middle-aged" stars who could have put this over, but Mame was a role Lucille Ball chased for years.
At the end of her long film and TV career, MAME should have been her crowning achievement, but nothing could mask the fact that she couldn't really sing, although in the final version they were able to piece a vocal performance together, Ball doesn't do Herman's music justice.
That aside, the 63-year-old Ball looks great and easily carries the comedy of the role, and she's in nearly every scene. The sets and costumes are lush and loud, and Ball gets great support from Beatrice Arthur and Jane Connell (Vera and Gooch from the Broadway show) and Robert Preston as Beau.
The rest of the cast is serviceable if not memorable. Don Porter and Audrey Christie as the Upsons, Bruce Davison as the grown Patrick, John McGiver as Babcock, Doria Cook as Gloria, Joyce Van Patten as Sally Cato, Lucille Benson as Mother Burnside, and George Chiang as Ito.
Ball and Arthur won Golden Globe nominations. Te film earned no Oscar nominations. The film opened to big numbers but fell off after a few months. Usually considered a bomb, the film did not lose money.
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