Ethel Merman's only film version of one of her stage hits!
Mark Andrew Lawrence | Toronto | 02/08/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"After too many years locked away in the vaults, the movie version of CALL ME MADAM is finally getting released on DVD.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. Since the two secondary leads were played by dancers, the movie allows them to develop their romance through dance and its an effective change. It also takes some of the emphasis off Merman.Ethel is still very much the star of the picture. Belting out the songs and delivering the comic zingers with panache. It is still a very theatrical performance....you still have the sense she is playing to the back row of the balcony. But that is was Merman was all about, and that is why the film is an important document.Some of her best lines:Congressman: When will you arrive at your post?
Sally: I'm not sure. Where the heck is Lichtenburg??Congressman: Sally, you wouldn't like me to make a little farewell speech tonight?
Sally: That's right. I WOULDN'T!Grand Duke: Tell me - How does this reception differ from your famous Washington parties?
Sally: Well WE have good time!And in the best musical comdy tradition, everything works out in time for a happy ending. Now that CALL ME MADAM is finally getting back into circulation we have a happy ending too!(Now..if only Decca would reissue the movie soundtrack album!)"
The brassiest and just about the best!
gregcouture | Fairview, OR United States | 03/09/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A huge hit on the Broadway stage, "Call Me Madam" was brought to the screen with Ethel Merman allowed to recreate her role of Sally Adams, legendary Washington hostess, named as American Ambassador to a fictional European duchy. The Irving Berlin score is endlessly melodic and listenable and performed with panache by the leads (Vera-Ellen's songs are dubbed by a well-matched voice double), including George Sanders revealing a surprisingly lyrical bass-baritone. Donald O'Connor and Vera-Ellen deliver with some of the best dance duets since Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire's halcyon days at RKO, and both get a chance to shine in solo dance numbers, including a spectacular "Orcarina" production extravaganza with Vera and a fantastically well-rehearsed chorus of colorfully costumed dancers.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!"
Barbra's BIGGEST Aussie FAN!! | AUS | 03/29/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I am SO happy that it is on DVD! I can't wait to get it! This is one of my personal favourite musicals of all time.There is SO many GREAT songs in this musical! I loved the performances of everyone in it! It's quite rare to have SUCH a perfect cast.. I'm sure you'd all agree when I say that I wouldn't change ANY one cast member.Although Ethel (God Bless good old Ethel); is the 'main character', Donald O'Conner has probably got the best songs! So he has probably got the best role, although billed second.One of my favourite scenes is the dance that Vera-Ellen and Donald O'conner do (she wears the most BEAUTIFUL dress!!!) It is a stunning number. Vera-Ellen is just gorgeous.Another memorable moment is when Ethel's character (Mrs Sally Adams) is presented to 'his highness' at a ball. She walks perfectly to his throne and goes to bow.. then she falls over. It's the most hilarious thing I've ever seen.If you are thinking of getting this DVD but arent quite sure, just GET IT! It's a beautiful musical. Don't want to ruin the movie for anyone who hasnt seen it but, I assuse you, you won't be dissapointed! A great family film with lots of comedy, romance and som of the greatest songs of our time!"
Wonderful nostalgia trip
Simone de Beauvoir | London | 08/12/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I originally saw this movie when I was 10 years old and over the years remembered the wonderful dancing and songs. I was disappointed that it never seemed to turn up on TV and was delighted to be able to buy my own copy. When I saw it again recently it was even better than I had remembered it. Donald O'Connor's partnership with Vera-Ellen is enchanting - I've watched their dances over and over. And Ethel Merman lights up the screen every time she is on - her interpretation of the memorable Berlin songs, whether belted out or sweetly romantic - is, I believe, unbeatable. I now want to get all the other Merman movies. And what a shame that George Sanders' deep, rich baritone wasn't more widely heard."
A Great Hit
Howard B. Schaffer | Washington, DC | 07/04/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Call Me Madame is a wonderful spoof on diplomatic practice. I intend to show part of it to my undergrad course in diplomacy at Georgetown University to demonstrate to the students how ambassadors should not conduct themselves."