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4.5 out of 5 stars
Bells Are Ringing
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
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 DVD...is anybody listening??? Highly Recommended.

UPDATE: Available now on DVD!!!! It's GREAT!!!
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
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. Particularly in his execution of the "Drop that Name" sequence - in which Ella lampoons her association with the hoi polloi, Minnelli's brisk camera work and staging is flawless. The same is true during Eddy Foy Jr.'s charming romp in "Oh, What A System". Delivered with comedic panache and laconic savvy a la the darling Holliday and charming Martin, the rest of the score, including such standards as "Just in Time" and "Drop That Name" is brilliant and bouncy.

Thanks to Warner's stunning new transfer, "Bells are Ringing" arrives `just in time' on DVD. The anamorphically enhanced Cinemascope image is outstanding. Colors are nicely balanced. Image quality is a marked improvement over anything this film has looked like before on home video. Blacks are rich, deep and solid. Whites are crisp, but never blooming. There is a hint of film grain and the occasional shimmer of fine detail but nothing that will distract you from wallowing in the riotous splendor of this musical classic. The audio has been impeccably remastered in 5.1 and delivers an unexpectedly powerful kick during the songs. The one disappointment for admirers of this film is that the featurette on the film "Just in Time" is way too short to be considered a valid supplement. Others include two outtake musical sequences made available previously, and the film's theatrical trailer. Regardless of these shortcomings, "Bells Are Ringing" comes highly recommended as great good time fun.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
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. What a wonderful tribute to Judy Holliday in this, her final role before succumbing to cancer in 1965. BORN YESTERDAY and IT SHOULD HAPPEN TO YOU are two other wonderful performances of about a dozen in her all-too-short film career. Expect Broadway musical style over-exaggeration at times while BELLS ARE RINGING the sound of delightful entertainment -- deserving 4.5 stars.

Movie quote: "It's a simple little system when the law is listening in. We will take those record orders in a very cultured tone while we're really booking horses over at Suesanswerphone."
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
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
on July 23, 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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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on April 12, 2007
Format: DVD
I very much enjoyed watching this movie. Saw it many years ago and still love it. Holliday and Martin shine. They seemed to have had a great time making this film. The music is uplifting and fun. If you like this film - see Guys and Dolls with Brando and Simmons.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format: VHS Tape
Having just seen this film yesterday, I was again charmed by the talented Judy Holliday in what was a cute story about a woman who works for an answering service and falls in love with a voice. That voice belongs to Dean Martin who does a good job playing against Holliday's idiosyncratic character.
While there are a few weak spots in the picture, the musical score and the engaging performances more than make up for it. The score is singable, if that's a word, and includes two big hits from the past, "Just in Time" and "The Party's Over."
In reading the other reviews posted here, I noticed they were all written by men, only one of whom liked the film. Is there a difference between the way men and women see a film? That would certainly seem to be the case here. I've always enjoyed this film and don't hesitate to recommend it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on August 11, 2005
Format: DVD
The first time I saw Judy Holiday was on the "Born Yesterday" trailer on the "His Girl Friday" DVD. Soon I watched that film and found Judy a blonde with a heart of gold. On that film she was supposed to be dumb but had an unusual talent for poker cards. She impressed and earned her an Oscar for Best Actress against Bette Davis and Anne Baxter(All about Eve)and Gloria Swanson(Sunset Boulevard).

That is why I bought "Bells are ringing" DVD the moment I saw her face on the cover. And I would like to say while "Born Yesterday" is a film not easy to forget, it is "Bells are Ringing" which really shows the fullness of Judy Holiday.

The Broadyway musical was tailored made for Judy. She doesn't need to play dumb. She has the chance to sing solo and duet. Though not particularly slim nor particularly young, she danced everywhere (cha cha on the sidewalk, waltz with Dean Martin in a quiet garden, solo dance in her answering phone office)with an elegance and lightness unparalleled even with other great dancers. Perhaps her early ballet training gave her the edge. She was 5' 10" and yet she practically danced effortlessly in the air. She may be passionate in saying the lines (afterall, this is a comedy) and yet she was sincere and never overdid them. More importantly, it is when she did not have the lines nor the dances that she revealed her particular worth - she could still steal a scene with her fluid moves. Watch how she would dash off to find Dean Martin, only to stop right before the door, turn back, hestitate and dash right off again. Most important of all, her smile lightened up the scenes. It is already worth every bit of your time to watch Judy Holiday on this film.

Having said that, "Bells are ringing" is made perfect with the music, the songs, the lyrics and the arrangement. You don't often come across with duet pieces so nicely put together. The group singing - the "names" song by the party goers and the "bookies rehearsing the passwords" song are fun to hear. Watch the "Midas Touch" singer closely for he was the leading man Mr. Moss on the Broadyway musical. The cast gave a solid performance.

The whole film is simply a delight to watch, hear and enjoy!

Trivia mentioned that Judy Holiday had an IQ of 172. She had a good career start in the movie business thanks to Katharine Hepburn, who tipped the columnists how good Judy was at Adam's Rib so that she secured her role in the "Born Yesterday" movie. That Judy was kind enough to let her partner (despite an understudy) had the spotlight he deserved when he sang in Broadway and tipped him to sing the "Midas Touch" song in the movie since Dean Martin, not he, got the leading role in the movie version. That Judy did not have the major roles she, as an Oscar winner and as a talented actress, should have deserved. All the more reason to cherish the few movies she has made and this is definitely one of them.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 19, 2005
Format: DVD
I don't know how the screenplay would have fared without these actors and this music, Comden and Green lag in the playwring end of it I think. I don't like them. Though their lyrics have some charm and do their jobs adequately. I think that's C&G's strong suit. I saw this movie when I was a freshman in high school and fell in love with both Judy Holliday and the flick. Everyone one in it puts his heart into it and does a wonderful job. I think C&G did an excellent job of adapting their libretto to the screen, though they narrowed the scope (compare the original nightclub number with the movie's, the movie's fit the pared down version better, but I much preferred the Bway version, perfect). I owned 2 VHS copies and now I own 2 DVDs, I adore this film. Judy Holliday will melt your heart and delight you, Dean Martin was a dream (though I missed Sydney Chaplin's delicious gravelly voice), the songs (only a few were left out (but, sadly, excellent ones, you can see one of them in the extras, "Is It A Crime?" - it was a crime to leave that out of the flick!) two substitutions, I liked both the first and what it replaced, the first love duet in Martin's apt, and I thought Martin's do it yourself solo was much better than the original), the songs were right on all the way through, not a clunker in the lot. I have in fact only 2 complaints about this movie. And that was in the editing, I saw 2 very sloppy places where obviously the camera had stopped, the actors had moved, then gone back to their original positions and the filming resumed, I read that it was a low-budget flick, but those were the only places where it showed. I can't say enough nice things about this film, it was warm, humorous, touching, no lagging in momentum, it moved right along. Incidentally, contrary to the Amazon staff reviewer, I do not consider Judy Holliday "brassy"! What a put down. And I disagree with the reviewer who called Jule Styne the greatest of Bway songwriters. Un-uh. That was Rodgers and Hart. Then Gershwin without Ira. Then Cole Porter. Then Jule Styne. And (sigh) from there on it's tin pan alley all the way. I can't say enough good things about this movie, the colors (like Judy Holliday's beautiful summer dresses), the action, the rare funny remark, the songs, it was wonderful.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
At last, BELLS ARE RINGING makes it's long-overdue DVD debut in its original widescreen ratio with Judy Holliday triumphantly reprising her Broadway role of Ella Peterson. Dean Martin plays Ella's handsome subscriber Jeff Moss, and the entire film is stylishly directed by the amazing Vincente Minnelli.

BELLS ARE RINGING was written specifically to fit the talents of Judy Holliday by her old friends Betty Comden and Adolph Green, and originally premiered on Broadway in 1956. Holliday beat Julie Andrews (in MY FAIR LADY) to win the coveted Tony Award and she stayed for the entire 3-year-run. The story concerns the lovelorn Ella Peterson, a telephone operator for the Susanswerphone message service. Ella (disguised as `Mom')falls in love with the voice of one of her subscribers, Jeff Moss, a playwright with writer's block, though she resigns herself to the fact that she may never actually meet him. Complications arise when Ella takes on the persona of `Melisande Scott' in order to embark on a relationship with him.

Eddie Foy Jr., Frank Gorshin and Jean Stapleton, all great stage-trained actors, turn in fantastic supporting performances. It is truly lovely seeing Judy Holliday (in her final film before succumbing to cancer) kicking up her heels in her acclaimed Broadway role. She is truly missed.

The DVD includes a brief Making-Of featurette with Hal Linden talking about understudying and eventually replacing Sydney Chaplin as Jeff Moss on Broadway; as well as warm reminisces from Comden & Green and Frank Gorshin. The outtake numbers "Is It a Crime?", "My Guiding Star" and an alternate take of "The Midas Touch" can also be savoured, as well as the obligatory trailer.
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