If Carol Channing didn't exist, no one could have made her up. One in a billion, Carol , at 89, remains an unstoppable, megawatt dynamo. Broadway diva extraordinaire is just the icing. Carol Channing hovered at the pinnacle of the entertainment world from the late-1950's through the 1960's and beyond, living life sensationally large. As Carol has observed, '...if you're lucky enough to have two hit shows, the world passes through your dressing room'. At 89, she remains irrepressible. Written by
Wow, Wow, Wow, Fellas... Look at the Old Girl Now, Fellas...
Good love stories are hard to find at the Cineplex these days. "New Year's Eve?" Please. It was gone by late December. "Twilight: Breaking Dawn?" You have got to be kidding. How about a film that contains three love stories? Three genuine, true-to-life, love stories - in a documentary. How is that possible? Easy, you make the documentary about one of the most beloved performers in American theatre Ms. Carol Channing.
You get the story of Channing's love of performance. You get the story of audiences' love for Carol Channing. Finally, you get the story of Channing's reunion (after 65 years) with the first love of her life.
"Carol Channing: Larger than Life" is the documentary of which I speak. It opens with the ever-young Ms. Channing (who was 90 at the time of filming and still going strong) taking a stroll down Broadway and reminiscing a bit. She runs into a few members of the chorus from the Broadway musical "Memphis." Note the respect and awe they feel for her. Note the respect and awe she expresses for the theatre. She tells the boys they should feel privileged to perform for a Broadway audience and she means it. She runs into a few fans who tell of the times they had seen her perform. Note the joy they have in meeting her. Note the joy she has in speaking with them.
This sense of joy and wonderment fills the entire film as it traces the life of Channing from her childhood in San Francisco to her life today, with stops on Broadway and (infrequently) in Hollywood. Hollywood never could figure out how to showcase her talents properly, though she did manage an Academy Award nomination for her role in "Thoroughly Modern Millie" (the vehicle through which I was introduced to Ms. Channing oh, so long ago )
Her theatrical life, as fascinating as it is, can't hold a candle to the personal late-in-life love story the film also documents. Imagine saying goodbye to your first love, reuniting almost seventy years later, getting engaged two weeks after reuniting, and marrying. Now THAT'S a love story.
When's the last time you left the theatre feeling good about life, good about love, good about growing old, and good about the possibility of growing old with the one you love? Carol Channing makes you feel all these things. She's still glowin', she's still crowin', she's still going' strong. We all should be thankful for that.
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