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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
Patrick is actually visible in the background during the early portions of the "Mame" number. He is halfway up a tree behind the chorus during the first verse. Then during the second verse he runs behind the chorus to observe Beau and Mame's promenade. These easy to miss appearances are most obvious in the letterboxed version. See more »
When Mr. Babcock and Mame argue, she has her hands protectively on Patrick's shoulders. Shot cuts to Babcock saying "That's not a school, it's the Garden of Eden," and when it cuts back to the longer shot, her hands are covering Patrick's ears. This odd bit of continuity is due to cut dialogue, in which she declares "What could be more wholesome and natural?" and he responds "It is not wholesome and natural for boys and girls to run around half nude." Mame is shown covering Patrick's ears while responding "Mr. Babcock! Not in front of the B-O-Y!" See more »
Often criticised, but a thoroughly enjoyable musical comedy!
I thoroughly enjoyed 'Mame', though I admit to being a biased Lucille Ball fan.
Set during the late 1920's and early 1930's, an orphaned nine year old boy goes to live with his wealthy and highly eccentric socialite aunt (Lucille Ball), who delights in teaching him to live life to the fullest. A repertoire of spirited, memorable songs accompany a complex story chronicling the relationship between a boy and his aunt.
Unfortunately, the darker side of human nature dominated within the hostile critiques of 'Mame' at the time of it's release... offensive reviews which deeply hurt Lucille Ball personally. Indeed, 'Mame' was maimed by the critics in 1974.
Had 'Mame' been released in the 1940's, 50's or even the 1960's, (with Lucille Ball in the leading role), this delightful musical would have been a major success and Lucy would have won critical acclaim. Unfortunately, by the 1970's the golden era of the Hollywood movie musical was over (in my humble opinion, the film musical died not long after 'Thoroughly Modern Millie' in 1966 ... hopefully, ' Moulin Rouge' will bring it back, or at the very least restore it's dated image, fingers crossed!).
Techniques and tastes had changed by the time 'Mame' hit the screen. Audiences were no longer accustomed to leading characters bursting into song spontaneously, ('Cabaret' in 1972 being the only memorable success of this period, complete with it's own different musical style). Therefore, 'Mame' was doomed from the very beginning.
To make matters worse, Lucille Ball had been (and remains) solidly typecast as a comedienne [albeit a highly talented one], and would always encounter difficulty in winning over hostile critics who refused to positively endorse her as anything else. Yet Lucy could act, (as had been proven within her touching portrayal of a homeless woman in 'Stone Pillows'), and despite being judged from her somewhat deeper, slower vocal renditions within 'Mame', she **could** sing (her musical talent was showcased within 'Sorrowful Jones' in the 1940's). I personally believe she would have been awarded a 'lifetime achievement' academy award had she survived past 1989, (also, I believe she would have done justice to the portrayal of the older 'Rose' character in 'Titanic', but I digress)...
The sets and costumes are sumptuous. In fact, after viewing the film I decided to re-decorate my home in the art-deco style which was the height of fashion within the period in which 'Mame' was set.
I first viewed 'Mame' late at night, when I was half asleep, on the ABC (that is, the Australian Broadcasting Co-operation) about three years ago and mistook it for a much earlier production owing to the filming techniques. Of course, a much older Lucille Ball gave the age of the film away, but the filming technique gives this film an 'authentic' feel. Because Lucy happened to be in her 60's at the time of production (somewhat older than Angela Lansbury, who starred in the Broadway stage production and, to her credit, would have also made a *great* Mame), the 'soft' lens was used in some of her close-up shots to make her appear younger. While criticised from time to time, I found the lighting and image texture to closely imitate similar techniques commonplace within the 1920's and 1930's. The film comes across 'authentic', complimenting the art-deco sets and flamboyant costumes.
In short, I **love** this film. Don't let the critics rain on Mame's parade. Even the stuffiest cynics *must* concede that the film has it's moments...
The 'moon lady' sequence had me in stitches, (as Lucy ascended upon a stage before a theatre-going audience clumsily perched on a cardboard crescent moon). And who can forget Mame's demands for "straight scotch" when shocked by her nephew's [proposed] in-laws and her revolting, belching Southern 'mother-in-law'!? Bea Authur (a one-time 'golden girl'), also steals a number of scenes before the memorable finale.
A must see... indeed, let Lucy's Mame "coax those blues right out of your heart"
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