77 of 81 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ROSALIND RUSSELL SUPERB AS "MAMA ROSE"!
When Warner Bros purchased the rights to the 1959 musical hit GYPSY it was intended to make a purely dramatic film, with songs from the Jule Styne & Stephen Sondheim Broadway score confined to the theatrical sequences. Rosalind Russell was chosen for the starring (but non-musical) role of Mama Rose along side Natalie Wood as Gypsy Rose Lee. However just as this...
Published on March 19, 2001 by hcampo
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Leonard Who?
There's a reason that Arthur Laurents is a film and theater legend, and Leonard Spigelgass, who adapted Laurents' book for the musical "Gypsy" to the screen is...well, not. Spigelgass took a taut, witty, emotionally and psychologically complex script and turned it into a padded, flabby mess; all that's good about the dialogue is lifted directly from the original. That...
Published on July 30, 2008 by David Cady
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77 of 81 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ROSALIND RUSSELL SUPERB AS "MAMA ROSE"!,
When Warner Bros purchased the rights to the 1959 musical hit GYPSY it was intended to make a purely dramatic film, with songs from the Jule Styne & Stephen Sondheim Broadway score confined to the theatrical sequences. Rosalind Russell was chosen for the starring (but non-musical) role of Mama Rose along side Natalie Wood as Gypsy Rose Lee. However just as this version of GYPSY began filming, THE MUSIC MAN opened in theatres and scored a huge hit. It was then decided that GYPSY should be filmed as a musical follow-up to THE MUSIC MAN. The production closed down and was revamped as a musical. Rosalind Russell could sing but not in the style her role demanded (all of Mama Rose's songs in the Broadway production were written in the original Mama Rose, Ethel Merman's vocal style). It was decided to bring in singer Lisa Kirk to assist Russell with the vocals rather than re-cast the role. The end result fully justifies this decision because Rosalind Russell's Mama Rose is simply magnificent and the combination of Russell and Kirk in the songs is so perfect you never know (or care) who is doing the singing. No other actress, before or since (which includes such illustrious performers as Ethel Merman, Angela Lansbury, Bette Midler and Tyne Daly), even comes close to conveying the monster in mother's clothing that was Mama Rose the way Russell does while still allowing the humanity of the character to emerge now and then only to become subservient once again to her driving ambition.
Natalie Wood is also excellent as Gypsy Rose Lee, who succeeded beyond her mother's Dreams. Her mother and daughter showdown scene with Russell is riveting. A young, vibrant Ann Jillian gives equally great support as Dainty June, the focus of Mama Rose's machinations for most of the film, who also went on to become June Havoc, one of the most celebrated stage actresses of her time.
Besides great acting, the songs are performed with a bravura and brilliance that far outclasses all other versions of this musical. In fact the Warner Bros. Studio Orchestra plays this music so magnificently it makes the more recent Bette Midler TV version sound anemic by comparison. The Dolby Digital 5:1 Discrete Surround envelopes you into the proceedings and the sharp, richly saturated Technicolor wide screen image (2:35-1) is fully equal to the superb audio.
But it is Rosalind Russell in one of the greatest screen performances ever committed to film that drives this version of GYPSY to the top of the heap and makes this DVD a "must own."
22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars LET GYPSY ENTERTAIN YOU!,
You want a good Sunday afternoon musical? That was when I discovered "Gypsy". I had never before known of Gypsy Rose Lee, and was interested when I was promised by John Burke of AMC that I would "love the movie". And love it I did! I am a big Rosalind Russell fan, and this makes for one heckuva showcase for her! She plays the role of Gypsy's Mama Rose with a vim and vigor unlike she shows in any other of her movies. She is A PRESCENCE. She plays the role with explosive power, but with the understanding and heart that (hopefully) the real Rose possessed. And Natalie Wood adds a glistening sparkle to this cast with class as the vibrant Gypsy Rose Lee, dazzling and beautiful. She plays against her child star image by lustily singing and grinding to a stripper beat and playfully tossing her clothes off. Karl Malden is excellent as Rose's fiancee Herbie. And the Sondheim/Styne songs are all incredible, each a production and thrill: the showpiece "Let Me Entertain You", the bouncy "Have An Eggroll, Mr. Goldstone", the charming "Small World", and the exciting final number, "Rose's Turn". WHAT A MOVIE! See this one and "you'll have a real good time, yes, sir!"
29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Everything's Coming Up Roz,
Some spend the winter hibernating. I spend it hibernating AND watching musicals. This past winter in the Northeast wasn't quite as severe as some we've seen, but it was LOOOONG. The winter that wouldn't die. So I needed a goodly supply of classic musicals on hand.
What a treat it was to re-watch GYPSY after lo these umpteen years. Rosalind Russell's Rose is a study in great force-of-nature type acting. As it happens, hers is the only Rose I've ever seen, so I cannot really get into the who-was-better argument with any real authority. But it's hard to imagine that Merman could have played this archetypical stage monster, uh, mother with more authority on the big screen. My guess is that those who maintain that Russell brings subtlety to the character that Merman could not have are right. Merman may have been great on stage, where bigger is better (voice, manner, gesture and all out pizzazz), but what works wonderfully on stage may be deadly on screen (and vice versa).
Roz was the quintessential tough broad on screen. She projected warmth, as well as street smarts though--and that was the order of the day with the screen version of GYPSY. She's supported by a wonderful cast: Karl Malden, just great as always, as her big lug/softie of a suitor. And Natalie Wood, fetching as always, as the young, sweet vulnerable Louise.
GYPSY is as good a musical as you're going to find. Smart, touching, sassy. They don't make 'em like that anymore. Well, of course, they don't really make musicals much anymore, but you know what I mean.
I hope I won't leave Roz Russell fans crushed when I mention one thing, however. For years, I used to tout Russell's talk-singing as proof that a talented actor with even moderate vocal ability could always learn to put over a song. Now I learn from imdb.com that the vocals (some? all?) may have been supplied by actress Lisa Kirk. I am shocked--not appalled, but shocked. If those vocals aren't Roz's own, well, it's just about a perfect match. The songs are sung in as gritty a voice as Roz uses in delivering the lines. I have no doubt that Russell could have pulled it off herself, and it may have been the case that some suit at the studio chickened out and brought in Lisa.
Well, it could have been worse. At least they didn't go against type and drag in Marni Nixon.
PS--Ah yes, it only occurred to me to check a little further to see if there was a soundtrack album on CD to see what the real scoop on the Lisa/Roz business was. It's true that Lisa was brought in after Roz had already recorded her versions. Since Roz's outtakes are included on the CD, it's doubtless enlightening. The reviews (all customer reviews, in this case) are penned by fans in the know, and although no one can agree, they're well worth taking a look at if you're at all curious. Purchasing the CD may well be worth it if you're very curious.
27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everything's Coming Up Rose!,
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I loved this version of "Gypsy." I was a part of a school production of the musical, so I decided to see what the movie version was like. There are several differences, but this movie has the same flare that the stage production does. The DVD has the two songs that are missing from the movie (they are located in the bonus features area) which I enjoyed very much. I only wish that they had been in the movie in the first place!
Rosalind Russell is WONDERFUL as Rose, a mother who wants to make her children, mainly her youngest, June, a star. She travels, along with her other daughter Louise (played by the wonderful Natalie Wood) and Herbie (Carl Malden). All three characters gave great performances. I always get a lump in the back of my throat when Herbie leaves Rose after she refuses to set a date for their marriage and tries to make Louise the star.
After Louise discovers that she is very successful in her new profession--stripping, she changes her name to Gypsy Rose Lee and leaves her mother behind. Rose then goes on to sing the greatest song of the movie, 'Rose's Turn.' Rosalind Russell does a great job with the song, even if her voice is a little scratchy. Her acting was superb. I have always loved the ending (which I will not give away for those who have yet to see the movie). If you're a musical fan, rent this movie. You will not be disappointed!
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Show, Great Film,
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I am a big fan of "Gypsy", having seen it onstage with Tyne Dale and Bernadette Peters on Broadway and having heard the recordings with those women as well as Angela Lansbury and Ethel Merman many times. This really is one of the best shows of all time, in my view. Clearly, Mama Rose is the main character and the show really rests on the shoulders of the lady playing her. For that reason, I can never understand why casting Rosalind Russell as Rose was ever controversial at all. There can be no doubt that she was a more skilled film actress than Ethel Merman. I think Russell is wonderful in this part: driven, brassy, pushy, comic, over the top, and, often, heartbreaking. Her "Rose's Turn" at the end is just great. She moves beautifully in the musical numbers when she needs too, as well. Sure, she does not sing all of her numbers by herself (her vocals are mixed, not dubbed, with Lisa Kirk's), and that has to be pointed out in an honest review. This was a common Hollywood practice in those days. Does it really make a difference? Not to me. This is not a stage production. We are not really watching a "performance", but the amalgamation of many days and weeks of performing into an edited whole. Kirk matches Russell's vocals well enough that it is not jarring or distracting. That said, Natalie Wood, who was dubbed in West Side Story sings her own numbers here. Her singing is pretty good. She is also gorgeous to look at and very believable as plain Louise who becomes glamorous Gypsy Rose Lee. Karl Malden is also good in the rather boring part of Herbie. The costumes are great, the sets are stagy, but opulent, and the cinematography really sumptuous. This is one of the last big, splashy Hollywood adaptations of a big Broadway hit, full of songs which have become standards, and a story which is moving, funny, and, best of all, ENTERTAINING. Get it!
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Roz is Underrated!,
I am always amazed to hear people criticize Ms. Russell's performance as Momma Rose! This is an incredibly difficult role to portray, especially with the legendary Ethel Merman having immortalized it on Broadway. The challenge Ms. Russell faced was enormous. She had to make the role of Momma Rose her own by delivering an interpretation that differed from Merman's while still maintaining the integrity of the original. I personally believe she carried this off with great aplomb. Although she does not have a fabulous singing voice, her numbers are each performed with tremendous style and believability. Her personality shines through each of several majour production numbers and her performance in the "11:00 song" "Rose's Turn" is sensational. Merman was Broadway's Momma Rose, and Roz is Hollywood's Momma Rose. Both portrayals are derserving of great praise.
The rest of the cast is excellent. Mr. Malden is an appropriately frustrated and enamoured Herbie and Natalie Wood sparkles as the one and only Gypsy! But the film really is a tour de force for Roz Russell and I predict her performance as Momma Rose will ultimately be recognized as a truly inspiring contribution to American Musical Films.
The beauty of this new DVD release is in the widescreen presentation. It allows us to see the film as it was meant to be viewed with the full stage area shots during the theatrical productions as well as the background scenery and sets that are a highlight of the entire production. The old pan and scan format just simply does not do justice to this "Broadway" classic. Even if you already own the VHS version, I highly recommend you purchase the DVD release. It is like seeing the film again for the first time.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars GYPSY - Simply the best,
By A Customer
When I first saw Gypsy, I was an impressionable 12 year old. The story of a girl, ignored by her mother, overshadowed by her younger sister really hit home with me. To watch how this pitiful young girl could overcome all of her life's hardships and become a star in her own right gave me the hope for my dreams. This movie may not be as great as the stage show, but with all the stars giving it their all, the quality comes across. The music is wonderful, and presented with extreme vigor. From the first "Let me entertain you" number as kids all the way through the vaudeville acts, the essence of the time's entertainment is showcased wonderfully. Mama Rose's songs were acted by Ms. Russell to perfection. Karl Malden makes the perfect Herbie, showing both the strength and weakness of his character. Natalie Wood's progression from a quiet child to dazzling star is a must-see. Her famous striptease versions of "let me entertain you" bring the whole show together. I still get goosebumps when she sees herself in the mirror all dressed up before her first striptease and says to herself "Momma, I'm pretty, I'm a pretty girl", her self awareness awakened for the first time. And, don't miss the incredible "Gotta have a gimmic" number, a showstopper! I love this movie, watch it whenever I need a pick me up and always makes me remember that even an ugly duckling really can turn into a self confident, beautiful swan. Perhaps Gypsy Rose Lee was really the first feminist, taking her life in her own hands and making a success for herself without the help of anyone. Buy this film.
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Wallflower Blooms,
Based on the hit Broadway play, Mervyn LeRoy directed this under-appreciated musical gem. Rosalind Russell is Mama Rose, the mother of all stage mothers, grooming her two young daughters for stardom on the vaudeville stage. She pays special attention to her youngest child, blond Baby June, while Louise is relegated to the background. As time goes on, the vaudeville craze fades with the coming of talkie films, and now her bubbly blond darling, Danity June (Ann Jilliann), is desperate to break free, deserting the family act. Rose is forced to start from scratch, with wallflower Louise (Natalie Wood, who was always in her sister's shadow), as the headliner in a new act, which basically goes nowhere. One day, Rose and her troop, now called Rose Louise and her Hollywood Blondes, wind up in a burlesque theater, and young Louise finds herself drawn into the the role of a stripper. She sheds her shy persona and becomes the world's most famous stripper, Gypsy Rose Lee.
Ethel Merman originated Rose on the stage, but Roz Russell does more than an adequate job, despite the fact that her singing voice was dubbed in some musical numbers. She is strong, overbearing, a little eccentric, but at the same time, she commands the audience's sympathy when she realizes that her ambition has just driven her daughters away, and she finds herself alone, with no one to live through anymore. Natalie Wood gives a touchingly vulnerable performance, her thin but endearing singing voice expressing Louise's pain and confusion in extraordinary volumes. Since she was groomed by an obsessive stage mother herself, Wood really had the the material to draw from; her lessons from the real Gypsy Rose Lee undoubtedly helped in her character's transformation from a shy girl to sophisticated stripper (the striptease numbers are fabulous). Who doesn't shed her a tear when she sings, "Little Lamb", or feels enthralled as she performs "Let Entertain You"? As she studies herself before a mirror prior to her first night on the burlesque stage, she sees her beauty for the first time - "I'm pretty - I'm a pretty girl, Mama!" When she makes her mark, she engages in an argument with her controlling mother, bringing both to a heartache, and later, an understanding. "You really could have been something, Mother," Louise informs Rose after catching a bit of her "performance" on the empty stage.
Having seen the 1993 version starring Bette Midler, I still prefer this one; no matter what anyone says, Roz is not miscast, and this film does not, in my opinion, have any "clumsy" moments; it is a vintage Hollywood musical. Karl Malden gives a comedic and committed performance as Rose's suitor Herbie, who wants her to marry him and who wants to provide a home for her kids. A young Morgan Brittney plays little Baby June; seeing her makes you think of her as the "Jon Benet" of the 1920s. It's finally on DVD, as it deserves to be; the letterbox enhances the film in a way that pan-and-scan videos never could.
Everything's coming up roses . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful (if not entirely faithful) film version!,
Let's get this out of the way first. Yes, Rosalind Russell is not a singer. She really does not have the pipes for songs written for someone with the belting ability of Ethel Merman. Yes, she was dubbed for most of the songs by the wonderful Lisa Kirk, save for a bit of "Rose's Turn" and all of "Mr. Goldstone" (though Lisa Kirk makes an excellent effort to mimic Rosalind Russell in her singing). Yes, it is less thrilling to hear the songs sung in a lower key to accomadate Ms. Russell's vocal abilities, which can slightly hurt the film in its more dramatic moments.
But why should we find fault in the parts when the sum of the film is as wonderful as it is? Rosalind Russell completely gives her all for this performance, surpassing what she lacks musically with a fierce determinated attitude worthy of the most infamous stage mother of all time. She infuses her Rose with true passion and vigor while still keeping her grounded in reality, something that perhaps even Ethel Merman would not have been able to effectively pull off on screen. Natalie Wood, doing all her own singing, is perfectly cast as the future Gypsy Rose Lee, both insecure and awkward, yet pulling a very convincing transformation to seductive and classy. The film itself suffers from a problem that plagues many movie musicals of the era, such as occasionally flat staging reminiscent of the show itself, but, again, why quibble? You quickly get so caught up in the story that such things are easily overlooked.
And of course, there is the 1993 Bette Midler version, which is somewhat enjoyable in its own right if a bit campy and fake, but nothing can compare to this classic movie musical complete with the great star turns of Natalie Wood and the always wonderful Rosalind Russell.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Screen Adaptation Of The Immortal Broadway Hit,
The catch phrase used repeatedly in this 1962 Warner Bros screen version of the Broadway classic "Gypsy" is "let me entertain you!", and that is certainly what this wonderful musical succeeds perfectly in doing. Boasting off screen credentials such as Stephen Sondheim for lyrics, choreography by Jerome Robbins and direction by Hollywood veteran Mervyn Leroy, with a superb cast from the legendary Rosalind Russell, through to Natalie Wood and Karl Malden, you just know this movie is going to be something special. Debate still rages over the casting of Rosalind Russell in the central role of the stage mother from hell, Rose Hovick in place of Broadway legend Ethel Merman who had one of her greatest Broadway triumphs in the role. In much the same way as Audrey Hepburn's casting as Eliza Doolittle over Julie Andrews in "My Fair Lady" drew heated discussion, the debate over "Gypsy", will undoubtedly continue forever. Rosalind Russell certainly makes the central character of the pushy, dominering stage mum her own here and provides in my belief much of what is memorable in this film version of the classic story. Indeed "Gypsy", still has that warm appealing show biz flashiness about it that makes a viewing a wonderful nostalgic experience. There have been many back stage stories filmed but "Gypsy", is certainly one of the best of it's kind and boasts many fine qualities that allow it to stand on it's own artistic merits side by side with its illustrious Broadway parent.
"Gypsy", of course recounts the rise to notoriety of one of last centuries most famous burlesque queens, the one and only Gypsy Rose Lee. Of course the most colourful character in the story and the one most prominently featured in Arthur Laurent's book on which the play was based was that of the mother the unstoppable Momma Rose Hovick who was unrelenting in her push to see her daughters as stars of the vaudeville circuit. The film chronicles the ambitions of Momma Rose through a long series of performing engagements across America where the spot light is always on the youngest of the three times married Rose's two daughters, June. In an act headlined by "Baby" June (Morgan Brittany billed as Suzanne Cupito), who slowly develops through the years into "Dainty", June (Ann Jillian) the format never changes and finds elder daughter Louise reduced to being the front end of a cow prop used in the act. Rose has an unfailing belief in the talent of her daughters and brushes aside the attentions of besotted manager Herbie Sommers(Karl Malden), because he wants to marry Rose, settle down and give the girls a proper home in one place. As the years go by the families fortunes take a turn for the worst and the great Depression wipes out the last vestiges of the old vaudeville circuit. Living from hand to mouth "Dainty June", becomes tired of always playing a child and runs off and gets married. Rose turns her attention on the less extroverted Louise and revamps the act to spotlight her. However all the magic has gone and when the troupe are booked in as a support act at a burlesque theatre the whole group's lives are changed forever. Louise is dragged in to replace a missing act and despite it involving a strip tease number Rose sees the chance for Louise to gain star status and thus "Gypsy Rose Lee", is born. Louise becomes an unexpected sensation and celebrity in burlesque however Rose begins to feel shut out and having also lost Herbie who tired of waiting for her to marry him she sees a lonely old age on her own ahead of her. However in the best tradition of show business a reconciliation occurs at the eleventh hour which sees the overpowering Momma Rose back in her daughters life for a happy finale.
Coming on the heels of its Broadway predecessor this movie version does not suffer at all for the changes in cast. Rosalind Russell a fine comedian from right back in the 1930's does a wonderful job of bringing this monsterous but still likeable stage mother to life. The character is essentially a combination of many notorious Broadway and Hollywood stage mothers and she brings her great comic skills to the forefront to make Rose the most meaty character in the story. What is important about Russell's performance is that she always manages to bring the deep down humanity behind the ruthless ambition into her playing of Rose and her scenes towards the end of the film when Gypsy has discarded her are nothing short of brilliant in turning audiences sympathies back onto her character. Natalie Wood, one of Hollywood's most beautiful young women of the time plays the central role of Gypsy and she displays just the right elements of awkwardness and vulnerability in her early scenes combined with the supreme confidence she displays in the later scnes when she is a great success as a burlesque Queen. She has great chemistry with Rosalind Russell and their scenes when the power base in the relationship changes are especially noteworty. Karl Malden has the difficult role of Herbie, Rose's long time love and he makes great dramatic worth out of his decades long love for a woman more interested in turning her children into stars than getting married to him. His departure scene when he finally says goodbye to Rose is particulary poignant. Finally young Ann Jillian deserves special mention for her wonderful playing of "Dainty", June, Momma's favourite who is never allowed to grow up in the act. The scenes of her as a teenager still playing a baby are both comical and tragic if there is such a thing possible. The overall production of "Gypsy", does great credit to its Broadway parent and the period recreation over many decades, stunning costumes designed by the legendary Orry Kelly and the wonderful choreography by Jerome Robbins is first rate. Despite her different singing style to Broadway's Ethel Merman, Russell handles the musical numbers with relish including "Everthing's Coming Up Roses", "Some People", "You'll Never Get Away From Me",and "Rose's Turn".
While I'm not an authority on Broadway musicals I always find "Gypsy", has a fresh and endearing quality to its story that while being at times brash is also sensitive and moving in its quieter moments. Would Ethel Merman have made the part of Rose a truly memorable creation in the movie version? Who knows but what we have here is one of the better early 1960's Hollywood musicals that succeeds on many different levels. Put some time away soon and catch this great Hollywood musical, Rosalind Russell is sure to dazzle you with her energy, and with the uniqueness of her stage mum to end all stage mums, enjoy!!!
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Gypsy (1962) [DVD] by Mervyn LeRoy (DVD)