Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, July 28, 2016


Rosalind Russell as Auntie Mame
AUNTIE MAME (1958). Director: Morton DaCosta.

In 1928 little Patrick Dennis (Jan Handzlik) enters a whole new world when his father dies and he is turned over to his free-spirited Auntie Mame (Rosalind Russell), who is best friends with dipsomaniac actress Vera Charles (Coral Browne) and believes in unconventional teaching methods. Mame has a love of life and craves new experiences, which she shares with Patrick. But when an older Patrick (Roger Smith) gets engaged to a young lady from a narrow-minded family, will Mame be able to show her nephew the error of his ways? Auntie Mame is a delightful, very well-acted comedy with a message of accepting the unconventional that's delivered without hitting the audience over the head. Russell and Brown take the acting honors -- Russell is especially superb -- and there are also fine performances from little Handzlik, Smith, Forrest Tucker, Peggy Cass as Agnes Gooch, Connie Gilchrist as Mame's housekeeper (who sort of disappears when Gooch arrives), Joanna Barnes [The Parent Trap] as Patrick's weird fiancee, Lee Patrick as her mother, and Pippa Scott [As Young As We Are] as Pegeen, who comes to work for Mame. We also have the versatile Henry Brandon [Babes in Toyland] as Patrick's strange teacher. [Frankly, nowadays most sensible people would have a problem with the school Brandon runs.] In addition to some great dialogue and very funny scenes, the movie has a sub-text of exposing and denouncing prejudice. Based on a very successful stage play, this was turned into the musical, Mame, which was also filmed.

NOTE: Just found out that there may be another remake of this picture with the rather androgynous Tilda Swinton playing Mame [!?].

Verdict: Great and classic comedy. ****.


angelman66 said...

One of the greatest film comedies ever, and a top favorite for me. It's one of those movies that lift my spirits and renew my faith in life when I get cynical!!

What a cast!!! The triumphant Russell is supported by brilliant performances by Brown and Cass, but as you say, neither can overshadow the great character that Roz created... A total joy.
- Chris

William said...

I agree, and I have to thank you for writing about this film so eloquently -- for unfathomable reasons I had negative memories of it but your write-up inspired me to see it again and I found myself absolutely delighted by it. A wonderful picture! Thanks!