72 of 76 people found the following review helpful
ROSALIND RUSSELL SUPERB AS "MAMA ROSE"!,
This review is from: Gypsy (DVD)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."
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jul 25, 2009 8:15:43 PM PDT
ROBERT SMITH says:
You nailed it. Rosalind Russell is the definitive Mama Rose. A brilliant performance. One of the best movie adaptations ever of a musical.
Posted on Jul 8, 2010 1:05:12 PM PDT
I agree. Rosalind Russell IS Mama Rose! And Natalie Wood gives a poignant performance as the "other" child. The final showdown scene brings me to tears every time--so beautiful and honest.
Posted on Jun 23, 2011 1:51:23 PM PDT
Great review, thanks for the background.
Posted on Feb 11, 2012 12:21:19 PM PST
Edward L. Teti says:
Mr. Campo, you are way off base here. This was not the Gypsy that should have been preserved on film. The screenplay was ludicrouslychanged from the libretto of the play. Like My Fair Lady, there was no need to change something already perfect. The overture is truncated, The Together number is gone, Roz did give an adequate performance but does not come close to the tenacity and monster qualities needed. Ms Wood and Mr Malden are fine but Herbie's character is less devloped as he has to double as Uncle Jocko, and truncating You'll Never Get Away from Me further diminished his character. The film works best in the second half as this part of the screenplay pretty much mirrors the stage show. BTW, Mr Campo, any sign of Alfred Newman's last great movie score Airport being preserved on Blu Ray?
Posted on Nov 23, 2013 5:44:29 AM PST
David P. Reader says:
Love Roz Russell and the movie.
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