I borrowed two movies from the library, but since I wasn’t in the mood for Pride & Prejudice, I popped Hello, Dolly! into the DVD player. Not that P&P doesn’t have its funny parts, but I was looking for something jolly, not very long, and best of all, something I hadn’t seen in a while. That definitely qualifies, because I’ve been listening to the soundtrack for years, but haven’t seen the movie in… oh, 10 years? I forget.
You really can’t go wrong with a musical that was directed by Gene Kelly, you know. Some of the dialogue is absolutely hilarious, though some of it is incredibly sappy. But you’ve gotta love a musical that makes you laugh out loud. And Barnaby only has to open his mouth to make me burst out laughing.
Vandergelder: “I am bringing home a mistress.”
Barnaby: “But sir, I’m too young!”
But then, Barnaby Tucker has always reminded me of Barney Rubble, from The Flintstones, so I think you expect these kinds of things from him and his counterpart, Minnie Fay. And speaking of ridiculousness, you can’t get away from it when the young Michael Crawford (who plays Cornelius) is involved.
Yes, this is the man that grew up to play the original Phantom on Broadway. I even remember a rumor I heard about 15 years ago, that Crawford’s voice had been accidentally altered by some routine surgery he had. Yes, it’s only a rumor, but just think, it shows what a HUGE difference in his voice, over the years! Because if you’ve watched this movie, or seen Condorman, you’d never believe him capable of singing as the Phantom. And in this movie, he was cast by Gene Kelly, because he wanted a “handsome idiot” for the part. Kelly’s wife thought Crawford was handsome, and Kelly thought he was an idiot.
For the younger set, if you’ve seen Wall-E, then you’ve seen or heard bits of Hello, Dolly!. The song during the starting credits of Wall-E are from the song Put On Your Sunday Clothes, which is a favorite song of mine. I have to admit to singing along, the first time I ever saw Wall-E. Of course, they probably didn’t have room or couldn’t get approval from Barbra Streisand, so the only parts of the song you will hear has Michael Crawford singing solo.
Later on, when you watch Wall-E watch a video, longingly, and hoping to be able to hold EVE’s hand, that’s a clip from It Only Takes a Moment, from later in Hello, Dolly!. Quite frankly, I regularly skip that song, because I think it’s sappy and stupid. “It only takes a moment to love a whole life through.” What a load of crock! However, if Crawford ever sings it in his Phantom voice, I’ll give it another try.
I love the introduction to Vandergelder, bellowing at his niece’s would-be fiancé, and you wonder if he (the would-be fiancé) is really supposed to be that tall. When Walter Matthau’s character proceeds to call the guy a “seven foot nincompoop”, you realize he probably is pretty tall. According to IMDb, he’s 6ft 6.5in. And I’m pretty sure the girl cast as Ermengarde was 5ft tall… or less, to create an interesting contrast. I read that Tommy Tune (who plays the tall Ambrose) is the tallest dancer on Broadway, and they played that to their advantage. Watching him dance with a girl that barely reaches his waist. Oh, it’s funny.
Now, I’ve never seen a performance with Carol Channing as Dolly, but I’m glad they cast Streisand in this role. I’m sorry, I’ve never been a fan of Channing, and I don’t like her singing voice. Oh, yes, I’ve heard it, and I’ve seen her in Thoroughly Modern Millie, too. I think they’re call to cast Streisand was a good one, even if she and Matthau fought like cats and dogs. He could not STAND her, even to the point of faking the kiss, at the end of the movie, rather than having to touch his lips to hers.
You can’t watch the beginning of the movie without watching that horror to feminists’ hearts (that must be why I enjoy it so much), the number It Takes a Woman. Oh, you can’t beat those lyrics.
“It takes a woman all powdered and pink to joyously clean out the drain in the sink…”
“The frail young maiden who’s constantly there for washing and blueing and shoeing the mare…”
And last, but not least…
“So she’ll work until infinity. Three cheers for femininity!”
This was the last movie that Louis Armstrong acted in (he died two years later), though his music has obviously been in hundreds of other movies since then. I love to listen to it, but it’s even greater to watch him interact with Barbra Streisand. Such a huge smile, such joy in his singing and what he’s doing. You can’t not smile, when you’re watching. If you watch nothing else from this movie, you should watch this scene.
I haven’t covered some of the other great songs and dance numbers, but who needs to. The master himself, Gene Kelly, was at the helm of this movie. No, it isn’t perfect, but the choreography was worthy of the best that Kelly could give. But someday, maybe in heaven, I’m going to give a piece of my mind to the person who designed Irene Malloy’s costumes. I cringed every time she changed clothes, with the exception of the Ribbons Down My Back hat.
I’ve rambled enough. I had a lovely evening, so now I need to go have a snack and take some more antibiotics.