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I rewatched Mame last night and I think that every couple of years when I pop the DVD in, I like it even more. Just like the recent discussions of LWL, Mame's reputation is far more disastrous than the product itself. One thing that really struck me this time around was Lucy's performance. For all of the complaints that come about comparing her to Lansbury, nobody acknowledges that this is a movie. She's not so much stiff as she is giving a performance metered for film. Imagine her chewing the scenery and falling flat like Ethel Merman's various attempts at the big screen.

Another thing that surprised me was the pace. The first time I saw this movie, close to ten years ago, it took a couple of sittings to get through. Today, it's an absolute breeze to watch and there's rarely a dull moment. I admit that I skipped over "Gooch's Song". It plays great on the stage, but lord is it awkward when you're sitting alone in your living room. I would've much preferred the excision of this number in favor of "That's How Young I Feel". Yes, the title alone would've given some unfortunate ammunition to critics, but I can't imagine the number being any worse than the other big songs in the movie- plus it would've been a nice showcase for Lucy to do more dancing. 

Not to sound all "Boomer" (which is a dirty word right now, and besides, I'm "Gen Z" or whatever), but compared to recent movie musicals, Mame is an absolute masterpiece and delight. Regardless of the occasional botched orchestration (It's Today) or the painful attempts to conceal age through filters and piecemealed vocals, it's still way less artificial than something like The Greatest Showman, which, according to too many of my misguided friends, is a great movie. At least Lucy did her own singing and her own dancing; there's no autotune and no computer generated leg movement (yes, I'm looking at you again Greatest Showman!). Today, when a vast majority of financially successful movies are 50% Corporate Machinations, 49% Computers, and 1% actual real human artists, Mame seems downright brilliant.

Speaking of "Art"...: A major factor in my enjoyment of movie musicals is something that isn't "tangible" (to quote Lucy on I've Got a Secret). There are numerous sequences in Mame that give me chills- those great moments on screen or stage where the production is just so great that it hits you in a way you can't explain. Of course the title number is one example, and another (of many) is the moment when Mame, Agnes, Beauregard, Ito, and Patrick link arms and stride into the taxi on that wonderful Hollywood backlot flurrying with snow. On occasion, in spite of incompetent direction, and no matter how much money-grubbing engineering and focus grouping you do, a movie will still make something simple fill you with joy thanks to great music and great performers.

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On 11/5/2019 at 8:39 PM, Freddie2 said:

I rewatched Mame last night and I think that every couple of years when I pop the DVD in, I like it even more. Just like the recent discussions of LWL, Mame's reputation is far more disastrous than the product itself. One thing that really struck me this time around was Lucy's performance. For all of the complaints that come about comparing her to Lansbury, nobody acknowledges that this is a movie. She's not so much stiff as she is giving a performance metered for film. Imagine her chewing the scenery and falling flat like Ethel Merman's various attempts at the big screen.

Another thing that surprised me was the pace. The first time I saw this movie, close to ten years ago, it took a couple of sittings to get through. Today, it's an absolute breeze to watch and there's rarely a dull moment. I admit that I skipped over "Gooch's Song". It plays great on the stage, but lord is it awkward when you're sitting alone in your living room. I would've much preferred the excision of this number in favor of "That's How Young I Feel". Yes, the title alone would've given some unfortunate ammunition to critics, but I can't imagine the number being any worse than the other big songs in the movie- plus it would've been a nice showcase for Lucy to do more dancing. 

Not to sound all "Boomer" (which is a dirty word right now, and besides, I'm "Gen Z" or whatever), but compared to recent movie musicals, Mame is an absolute masterpiece and delight. Regardless of the occasional botched orchestration (It's Today) or the painful attempts to conceal age through filters and piecemealed vocals, it's still way less artificial than something like The Greatest Showman, which, according to too many of my misguided friends, is a great movie. At least Lucy did her own singing and her own dancing; there's no autotune and no computer generated leg movement (yes, I'm looking at you again Greatest Showman!). Today, when a vast majority of financially successful movies are 50% Corporate Machinations, 49% Computers, and 1% actual real human artists, Mame seems downright brilliant.

Speaking of "Art"...: A major factor in my enjoyment of movie musicals is something that isn't "tangible" (to quote Lucy on I've Got a Secret). There are numerous sequences in Mame that give me chills- those great moments on screen or stage where the production is just so great that it hits you in a way you can't explain. Of course the title number is one example, and another (of many) is the moment when Mame, Agnes, Beauregard, Ito, and Patrick link arms and stride into the taxi on that wonderful Hollywood backlot flurrying with snow. On occasion, in spite of incompetent direction, and no matter how much money-grubbing engineering and focus grouping you do, a movie will still make something simple fill you with joy thanks to great music and great performers.

Good take.   Since this movie originally got some good reviews to me its reception was better than LWL.  At the Kennedy Center they even salute Lucy to custom lyrics of Mame title song .  I love Lucy's dancing. "That's How Young I Feel" would have made a great addition.   I agree Gooch's song is not my favorite moment and Jane looks too old for the part more than Lucy did.   The film version had the governess and Gooch be 2 separate characters which made more sense.  I am Gen Y but agree musicals than were art now it's too much pretend going on. 

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On 11/5/2019 at 5:39 PM, Freddie2 said:

I rewatched Mame last night and I think that every couple of years when I pop the DVD in, I like it even more. Just like the recent discussions of LWL, Mame's reputation is far more disastrous than the product itself. One thing that really struck me this time around was Lucy's performance. For all of the complaints that come about comparing her to Lansbury, nobody acknowledges that this is a movie. She's not so much stiff as she is giving a performance metered for film. Imagine her chewing the scenery and falling flat like Ethel Merman's various attempts at the big screen.

Another thing that surprised me was the pace. The first time I saw this movie, close to ten years ago, it took a couple of sittings to get through. Today, it's an absolute breeze to watch and there's rarely a dull moment. I admit that I skipped over "Gooch's Song". It plays great on the stage, but lord is it awkward when you're sitting alone in your living room. I would've much preferred the excision of this number in favor of "That's How Young I Feel". Yes, the title alone would've given some unfortunate ammunition to critics, but I can't imagine the number being any worse than the other big songs in the movie- plus it would've been a nice showcase for Lucy to do more dancing. 

Not to sound all "Boomer" (which is a dirty word right now, and besides, I'm "Gen Z" or whatever), but compared to recent movie musicals, Mame is an absolute masterpiece and delight. Regardless of the occasional botched orchestration (It's Today) or the painful attempts to conceal age through filters and piecemealed vocals, it's still way less artificial than something like The Greatest Showman, which, according to too many of my misguided friends, is a great movie. At least Lucy did her own singing and her own dancing; there's no autotune and no computer generated leg movement (yes, I'm looking at you again Greatest Showman!). Today, when a vast majority of financially successful movies are 50% Corporate Machinations, 49% Computers, and 1% actual real human artists, Mame seems downright brilliant.

Speaking of "Art"...: A major factor in my enjoyment of movie musicals is something that isn't "tangible" (to quote Lucy on I've Got a Secret). There are numerous sequences in Mame that give me chills- those great moments on screen or stage where the production is just so great that it hits you in a way you can't explain. Of course the title number is one example, and another (of many) is the moment when Mame, Agnes, Beauregard, Ito, and Patrick link arms and stride into the taxi on that wonderful Hollywood backlot flurrying with snow. On occasion, in spite of incompetent direction, and no matter how much money-grubbing engineering and focus grouping you do, a movie will still make something simple fill you with joy thanks to great music and great performers.

What an insightful perspective.   I knew if I lived long enough Mame would eventually be seen as entertaining (I don't know about "masterpiece" ....).   Some of your points:  agree thoroughly about It's Today's "botch orchestration" (well put).  Evidently "Gooch's Song" was a killer on stage.  I've never even liked the song.  I don't find it particularly tuneful or the lyrics clever. ("Although I was leery, I thrived on your theory that life could be a WOW"---yes, there are only so many rhymes to "now" but this one is real stretch).   Without examining them all, I think this may be the worst song in any Jerry Herman musical.  The problem with "That's How Young..." is that its placement is completely incidental to the plot.  They loved it on stage because for one thing it's a great song, but that 2nd act needed a kick-up-your-heels production number.  Perhaps they could have included it somewhere else in the movie.  Lucy's portrayal is very well-acted (with one of two exceptions) but this Mame lacks the madcap quality Roz's  had.  This is the fault of the director and writer, not Lucy.  In the clash scene between Mame and Patrick, he says "I was afraid you'd come up here dressed like a farmhand or the Queen of Sheba"...No she wouldn't.  Not this Mame. There's nothing we've seen of her that would indicate she would do that.  Her relationship with young Patrick is covered in the "Open a New Window" montage.  Other than that, we don't see the bond between the two.   I only wish they had added whatever soft-focus tricks they used, generating them in post-production, as they probably would today, instead of using filters--or whatever--as the film was being shot, thereby committing them to the film's negative.   If they had used the former technique (assuming it was possible in 1974),  these shots could have been corrected for the DVD or maybe even before the release of the movie in '74. .  The point I've tried to make is that besides being excessive, they were not necessary---at least to the degree they were used.  An unforeseen backlash is that those shots gave fuel to the critic-mob chant that Lucy was "too old" for the part.   

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Although it would be great for Lucy to have a big second act dance number, I’m not sure if “That’s How Young I Feel” would be the right number. It’s a very fun song, but probably the weakest in the score lyrically. The Upson Downs sequence was radically changed for the film version and I’ve heard many people say that they feel like this scene was Lucy’s best in the film (“Straight scotch.”) I can’t picture an uptempo number inserted in this scene.

I’ve written this before (probably multiple times in this thread!),  but, when I saw a screening of Mame a few years ago, “Gooch’s Song” got the biggest round of applause!

 

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On 11/12/2019 at 5:47 AM, HarryCarter said:

Although it would be great for Lucy to have a big second act dance number, I’m not sure if “That’s How Young I Feel” would be the right number. It’s a very fun song, but probably the weakest in the score lyrically. The Upson Downs sequence was radically changed for the film version and I’ve heard many people say that they feel like this scene was Lucy’s best in the film (“Straight scotch.”) I can’t picture an uptempo number inserted in this scene.

I’ve written this before (probably multiple times in this thread!),  but, when I saw a screening of Mame a few years ago, “Gooch’s Song” got the biggest round of applause!

 

I'm always up for a "Mame" discussion!  

Nanny Nora Muldoon and Gooch were combined into one character in the Broadway musical version--which still contained the plot thread of Mame writing her autobiography, Gooch having been sent to secretarial school "Speedo" to take dictation.   Until "FritzyBoy2" brought it up, I hadn't considered the notion that Jane's Gooch was too old to be pregnant.   My problem (as stated MANY time) is that Gooch is such a subordinate character in the movie, we don't care enough about her to give her her own song.  And besides, there's very little interaction between Mame and Gooch directly so Mame did not really give her the "live live live" lessons.   (And BTW does "live live live" really translate into tramping it up in an East Flousberg* Pennsylvania motel room with God-knows-what sort of lowlife?)   I don't know if, in the Broadway musical version, Patrick was such an a-hole to his old nanny Gooch, but it really bothers me in the movie. Specifically Agnes greeting him with a cheery "HI, Patrick!"....which goes unacknowledged and followed by "What is AGNES doing here???" to Mame as if Agnes wasn't even there.  

 I'd be interested in how you, Harry,  feel "That's How Young" is the weakest lyrically.  I hadn't thought about it along those lines.  I love the song.   I'm not sure where else in the movie it could have been placed, but the film really needed a post-"Mame" LucyMame kicking-up-her-heels musical number--not that the goings-on afforded the opportunity for one.   (Maybe Mame, Vera and Gooch doing "Ukulele Talk"?)   Re: the Upson Downs scene.  One prominent national critic praised it because "we get to see Lucille Ball, the actress".  Right.  Lucy is very low-key but true to the character.  This scene in the movie certainly plays differently than the recording I have of the Broadway show (from the 1968 LA stop on the tour).   The audience is laughing throughout. However, you can get away with cartoon-ing it up with broad performances on stage.  I have mixed feelings about the decision to play it more realistically and much more sedate in the movie, which is a musical COMEDY after all.   

I'm not knocking Angela, because by all accounts  she wowed them onstage, but if she had recreated that same performance in the film it just wouldn't have worked.   The casting of Angela as Broadway's Mame up against so many higher-caliber women considered (Lucy included) and her subsequent triumph after years as a supporting player is the sort of show-biz success story people love.   Established icon Lucy taking on a role (meant for Angela, after all and STOLEN) that was not necessarily her forte is the sort of show-biz story people love-----to HATE.

*Is this REALLY a Pennsylvania city? 

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12 hours ago, Neil said:

  (And BTW does "live live live" really translate into tramping it up in an East Flousberg* Pennsylvania motel room with God-knows-what sort of lowlife?)   

*Is this REALLY a Pennsylvania city? 

It's East Stroudsberg. It's a town in the Poconos region, which back in Mame's time was a big honeymoon area, so that would make sense to run off to. It's also only about 2 hours from NYC. I stayed there once on a ski trip.

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18 hours ago, Neil said:

I'm not knocking Angela, because by all accounts  she wowed them onstage, but if she had recreated that same performance in the film it just wouldn't have worked.   The casting of Angela as Broadway's Mame up against so many higher-caliber women considered (Lucy included) and her subsequent triumph after years as a supporting player is the sort of show-biz success story people love.   Established icon Lucy taking on a role (meant for Angela, after all and STOLEN) that was not necessarily her forte is the sort of show-biz story people love-----to HATE.

What an interesting take! I've always assumed that Lansbury's experience in film would've made her adjust her Mame accordingly, if she'd ever ended up in the movie. As I said earlier, I've really come to admire Lucy leaning into her star power for the role. If she'd gone full "Lucy The Clown" as opposed to "Lucille Ball, The Icon", the movie probably wouldn't be as good. 

Another thought- despite being a huge success, Mame has only ever been revived once on Broadway, in an "ill-fated" production from 1983 with Lansbury. This is kind of strange when you think about the roster of stars who played Dolly over the years. They're very similar shows, but for whatever reason, the role of Mame Dennis is a lot less accommodating than Dolly Levi. I didn't see the recent production, but aside from Bette Midler, I believe that the role has been filled lately with Bernadette Peters, Donna Murphy, and Betty Buckley, at least. They all have their merits, but I can't picture any of them playing Mame. What would our contemporary casting choices be for a movie or revival of the show? I'll pitch in right now and say if we're talking a Broadway production, Julie Halston as Vera and Jackie Hoffman (although not of pregnancy age) as Gooch!

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On 11/14/2019 at 1:36 PM, Freddie2 said:

#1.  I've always assumed that Lansbury's experience in film would've made her adjust her Mame accordingly

#2. Another thought- despite being a huge success, Mame has only ever been revived once on Broadway, in an "ill-fated" production from 1983 with Lansbury. This is kind of strange when you think about the roster of stars who played Dolly over the years. They're very similar shows, but for whatever reason, the role of Mame Dennis is a lot less accommodating than Dolly Levi.

#1.  You could be right, but I have trouble picturing it.  Did Angela ever do glamor in the movies?  But even Angela could not have overcome THAT script with THAT direction.  I don't know that anyone could have.  One reviewer, while fairly positive about the movie, noted that "this Mame comes to the screen with considerable stuffing knocked out it" and "your enjoyment depends heavily on your memories of the original".  When you do a musical of a play, you've got to eliminate roughly 45 minutes of plot to make room for the songs.  Broadway: getting rid of the O'Banyon character also eliminates the absurd, hilarious comedy of him dating and MARRYING Agnes Gooch (falling for Mame's story that she is a wealthy heiress), but they had to ditch SOMETHING.  The movie goes too far.  Eliminating the plot thread of Mame's autobiography--a huge mistake.  Because after Beau dies, there's a big hole  where nothing much happens until we get to the Upsons.  Yes, I suppose they had to follow the basic story line.  But was there really any need to kill Beau off to make the rest of the plot work?  The movie also eliminates the Babcock-Upson connection which was an even bigger mistake.  But I've got the PERFECT solution!  (later) 

#2.  Though Mame depicts the years 1928-1948, it has a much more contemporary feel than Dolly.  Other than the stock market crash, there are no historic references I can think of that make it a period piece.  Both movies look like they were set in the year of their release.   The colossal failure of the 1983 revival is baffling.  And OF COURSE, there was some who blamed Lucy for tarnishing the reputation of the property. 

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