It's 1884 in Yonkers, New York. Dolly Gallagher-Levi is a Jane-of-all-Trades, but her latest and most lucrative venture is as a matchmaker, setting men up with women with the intention of matrimony. This job is ironic as she was previously married herself, not enjoying the experience. Her latest client is older penny-pinching retail store owner, Horace Vandergelder, who works his two young meek clerks, Cornelius Hackl and Barnaby Tucker, to the bone. As Horace won't give them a day off, Cornelius and Barnaby plot to close the store and sneak into New York for the day, their mission to meet and kiss a girl. In New York, Cornelius spots Irene Molloy, a young female milliner upon who he sets his sights. On their meeting, Cornelius is unaware that she is also one of Horace's possible brides. Beyond what happens between Horace, Cornelius and Irene, Dolly herself may be ready for matrimony again despite her words to the contrary.Written by
One can see why it was prime material for a musical treatment.
"Hello, Dolly!", that marvelously overblown, elephantine 1969 movie musical starring Barbra Streisand, can trace its cinematic origins to this charming film, which, in its stage incarnation, had enjoyed a successful Broadway run a few years before.
Paramount wisely employed the inimitable Shirley Booth to head the cast and, perhaps since she was no guarantee of big box office, despite her Academy Award for "Come Back, Little Sheba" (1952), they filmed it in VistaVision but not Technicolor. Too bad, because it's nicely mounted, smartly directed and well cast, with Paul Ford deserving of particular praise. His wonderfully humorous Horace Vandergelder makes one wish he'd been allowed to play the role again opposite Streisand (though, to be sure, he would have appeared to be much too old for Barbra, who was only twenty-seven years old when Twentieth practically bankrupted itself filming that monumentally successful Broadway bonanza.)
Anyway, this version is genuinely charming and always repays a re-viewing. Its equivalent from a major American motion picture production company is almost inconceivable today, what with audiences whose tastes have been so brutally coarsened. Thank goodness there's a video version to pop into the VCR for those of us who'd occasionally like to take a bit of a holiday from all the troubles that beset us now.
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