Call Me Madam
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This is the only time Ethel Merman did a faithful screen re-creation of one of her famous Broadway roles. Sadly she was passed over for the film of ANNIE GET YOUR GUN when the role was assigned to first to Judy Garland, then to Betty Hutton. And her greatest stage role, Madame Rose, went To Rosalind Russell in the movie of GYPSY. In an interview with Miss Merman she explained "the studios, in those days, they wanted picture names..but when they got to CALL ME MADAM I guess they figured they'd take a chance on me." Some chance. MADAM had played 644 performances on Broadway and had been acclaimed a big hit.
The story, a lightly satirical look at international politics was inspired by Harry Truman's appointment of Pearl Mesta as Ambassador to Luxembourg. It was rumoured that Pearl got the assignment by being a great party-giver. So, Howard Lindsay & Russell Crouse created Mrs. Sally Adams, a wealthy Oklahoma widow who gravitates to Washington and thanks to her parties is appointed ambassador to Lichtenburg. The movie retains much of what worked on stage but embellishes it with some additional funny scenes.
Best of all most of the Broadway score is retained: "The Hostess With the Mostes'"; "Can You Use Any Money Today"; "Marrying for Love"; "It's a Lovely Day Today"; "Something to Dance About"; "The Best Thing for You" and the showstopping "You're Just in Love." Added to the movie are two old Berlin standards, "The International Rag" and "What Chance Have I with Love" which becomes a hilarious dance routine for Donald O'Connor.
O'Connor also gets to dance to "Something to Dance About" with Vera Ellen.Read more ›
Twentieth lavished class "A" production values on this delight and Alfred Newman's Oscar for Best Adapted Musical Score was eminently well-deserved. What a pleasure to welcome this back from its long exile in the vaults of favorite movie musical memories!
Ethel Merman is filled with joyous energy and vivacity. She isn't overbearing as she was in that later picture she did with Buddy Hackett where all the characters are chasing after money. Probably that picture did more to cement people's minds of one image of Ethel Merman as loud and obnxious. Here she's loud, but only sometimes, she seems like a human being instead of a monster. I love her arm and hand movements when she sings, especially dancing with the two men at the end at her Washington DC party, it's like a penguin dancing.
George Sanders was also very good. Number one, I never heard him act before with that accent (Mitteleuropean Eurotrash) which we heard preserved right into the singing, or whoever dubbed his singing voice for him, though it sounded just like his own voice. Number two, I remember him from REBECCA and ALL ABOUT EVE and dozens of other movies but don't ever remember him playing the leading man or at any rate the "good guy." Here he plays General Cosmo Constantine, charming and erudite and kind of sexy, you can see why Sally Adams falls in love with him as soon as he opens his mouth.
This was Donald O'Connor's followup to the famous SINGING IN THE RAIN and his numbers are better than those in SITR, sorry Donen fans but it's true. The one number that he dances to with Vera-Ellen (their first dance, not that underground one) at the reception for Sally Adams, and they sing "It's a Lovely Day Today," is out of this world. And his drunk scene where he dances on a zillion colored balloons is a masterpiece of masculine power and grace. He's also sexy in this!Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A wonderful, fun little movie. We caught this movie while out of town and didn't have a change to watch it all. I was thrilled to find a copy on Amazon. Read morePublished 2 months ago by M. Wire
I have fallen in love with this movie. I had never heard of it until songs from it started appearing on a Pandora station I like. Read morePublished 5 months ago by RickM
This isn't the most well-known musical but it is a good one. For one thing it has the irrepressible Ethel Merman in the title role. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Cyrus Brown
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