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Bells Are Ringing

135 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Plot Synopsis by Hal Erickson Judy Holliday re-creates her Broadway role of flibbertigibbet telephone operator Ella Peterson in Bells are Ringing. Ella works for Susanswerphone, a hole-in-the-wall answering service run by her cousin Sue (Jean Stapleton). Our girl Ella can't help but become involved in the lives of her customers, which brings her to the attention of a dimwitted police detective, Barnes (Dort Clark), who suspects that Susanswerphone is a front for a house of ill repute. The cop is so obtuse that he never notices the story's genuine criminal, a flamboyant German bookie (Eddie Foy Jr.) who poses as a record executive and uses the names of composers as code for the various racetracks around the country. To avoid Barnes' wiretapping, Ella goes around New York in person to minister to the needs of her clients--most notably playwright Jeffrey Moss (Dean Martin), who is in danger of becoming an alcoholic if he can't come up with a good idea for a play. Assuming a false identity, Ella prattles on about some of her other clients, notably a dentist (Bernie West) who composes pop songs on his air hose. Moss is inspired by Ella, and eventually falls in love with her. Because she will not reveal who she really is to Jeffrey, Ella decides that her relationship is founded on lies, and walks out of his life. But Moss, together with the other Susanswerphone customers who have been "rescued" by Ella, show up at Ella's doorstep for a happy ending. Bells are Ringing is not an example of MGM's Arthur Freed unit at its best, but Judy Holliday is luminescent in this, her last screen role (incidentally, Holliday's "blind date" in one scene is played by her then boyfriend, jazz musician Gerry Mulligan). The film's songs, by Betty Comden, Adolph Green and Jule Styne, include the hit numbers "Just in Time" and "The Party's Over".

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Judy Holliday, Dean Martin
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English, French
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: March 15, 2005
  • Run Time: 126 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (135 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000J40AK2
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #18,404 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Peter Prainito on July 31, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
Judy Holliday steals the show. In her role as Ella Peterson, a vunerable employee of "Suesanswerphone", (a telephone answering service in the days before answering machines) she reaches out to help three of her many subscribers with hilarious results. The triad include a dentist that wishes he were a composer, a beatnik actor that no one will hire, and a down-on-his-luck playright. All three of these characters have something in common, as the movie reveals. The music by Jule Styne is memorable and includes the hits "The Party's Over" and "Just In Time". Although not noted for her singing, Judy's renditions perfectly suit her wonderful acting. Her songs range from funny to dramatic, and are lovingly done. I can't think of anyone I would have rather had in her role. Dean Martin, as Jeff Moss, is a fine counterpart to Judy. I would love to see this musical released on anybody listening??? Highly Recommended.

UPDATE: Available now on DVD!!!! It's GREAT!!!
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Nix Pix on March 14, 2005
Format: DVD
Vincente Minnelli's "Bells Are Ringing" (1960) generally gets a bad wrap from reviewers and critics alike. While it is true that the film came at the tail end of MGM's reign of supremacy in musical motion picture entertainment - and it is equally true that the film falls short by direct comparison to, say, Minnelli's "Meet Me In St. Louis (an unfair but often used example), all the pistons are firing on this occasion with this delightful story of a phone operator who falls in love with one of her clients.

The story concerns lonely Ella Peterson (Judy Holliday in her final performance). Working out of a basement apartment for Susan's-a-phone (a personal message service), Ella longs for the good life and the right fella to fill her needs. However, that doesn't prevent her plucky personality from offering equal portions of good advice and smart talk to her roster of happy clients. Ella's fraternization doesn't particularly sit well with her employer, Sue (Jean Stapleton) who is all dollars and cents, or police detective, Barnes (Dort Clark) who advises Ella that it's illegal to provide unsolicited information in the capacity of a business acquaintance. But Ella is all set to throw caution to the wind when she falls in love with Plaza 0-double four, double nine. That extension belongs to Jeffrey Moss (Dean Martin), a once successful playwright who fears that his days of popularity are numbered and has since turned to shallow women and hollow relationships for solace.

Screenwriters Betty Comden and Adolph Green transform their Broadway original into a sublime cinematic treat. Minnelli directs adroitly and - given the limited budget he had to work with - delivers a film that appears to be on a much grander scale than it actually is.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By K. Williams on December 27, 2006
Format: DVD
Throw away your mobile phones. Smash your answering machines. Turn back your clock to 1960 when Suesanswerphone makes a pitch to improve all aspects of your life by preventing you from missing a phone call. An office full of Ella Peterson (Judy Holliday) voices filters incoming calls and forwards subscriber messages. Ella offers a unique personality for each client, making the establishment sound much grander than it is. Despite instructions to the contrary from her boss, cousin Sue (Jean Stapleton), but to the delight of subscribers, Ella goes beyond phone answering; she becomes a confidant and advisor.

A typical disaster on blind dates, Ella falls in love with the "disembodied voice" and circumstance of "Plaza-0 Double-4 Double-3" -- playwrite subscriber Jeffery Moss (Dean Martin) with whom she speaks in the voice of an elderly mother. "What a perfect relationship; I can't see him and he can't see me!"

Sue is swooned into sharing her office with shady Titanic Records owner J. Otto Prantz (Eddie Foy, Jr.) while Suesanswerphone is being investigated under suspicion of providing lonely-hearts-club service. Inspector Barnes (Dort Clark) warns Susanswerphone personnel not to have personal conversations or arrange meetings with male callers. Aware of these restrictions, Ella's concern for clients soon transcends the switchboard as she goes undercover in a variety of voices and costumes to pass along helpful information affecting the careers of such characters as beatnik Blake Barton (Frank Gorshin).

Discover how many ways BELLS ARE RINGING in another successful Broadway play adapted to motion picture. Subplots of this Oscar nominated romantic comedy are intertwined with song, dance, and humor.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By W. Budris on March 17, 2005
Format: DVD
The new DVD version of BELLS ARE RINGING is stupendous. Widescreen, 5.1 Surround, with two deleted numbers and an alternate version of The Midas Touch thrown in as bonus features. There is also a nice Making-Of featurette featuring Hal Linden of "Barney Miller" fame, who was the headliner in the Midas Touch number...his film debut.

Well worth it if you like classic musical comedy.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Rick D. Barszcz on July 22, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
...The Bells are Ringing is one of those "Gem" musicals that is witty, bouncy, full of energy, wonderful music, romance and laughs...I would love to see the Wide Screen version.
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