Following the death of his father, an orphan is sent to live with his free-spirited aunt.Following the death of his father, an orphan is sent to live with his free-spirited aunt.Following the death of his father, an orphan is sent to live with his free-spirited aunt.
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.
- Dec 13, 2013