Lucille Ball Film Collection [5 Discs] [DVD]
- SKU: 20769304
- Release Date: 11/20/2012
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- Vintage shorts (Including Bob Hope in Calling All Tars)
- Classic cartoons
- Making-of featurette for Mame
Lucille Ball stars in this film version of the hit Jerry Herman Broadway musical, which featured an electrifying performance by Angela Lansbury. As Patrick Dennis' plucky and resilient Auntie Mame, Ball's low-pitched, growling moan of a voice (a spine-chilling reminder of the sound of Linda Blair's demon-possession in The Exorcist) and her gaudy and lumbering fashion-horse gait turns Mame into an elderly cross-dresser. In this guise, Mame rehashes the plot from Dennis's novel and the previous non-musical Rosalind Russell film. During the Depression era 1930s, she enrolls her nephew into a liberal private school, tries a turn in show business (with the help of her friend Vera [Beatrice Arthur]), and marries a well-to-do Southern planter (Robert Preston). After her husband's death, Mame concerns herself with her now grown-up nephew, his girlfriend, and the girlfriend's intolerant parents. ~ Paul Brenner, Rovi
Ira Levin wrote the stage comedy Critic's Choice as a good-natured retort to a comment made by critic Walter Kerr. In his essay How Not to Write a Play, Kerr noted that the worst possible scenario would involve a drama critic forced to review a play written by his wife (we should mention that Kerr's own wife was noted playwright Jean Kerr). Levin utilized this very scenario, and the result was a Broadway hit. Less successful artistically was the 1962 film version, though with Bob Hope and Lucille Ball as stars, the film couldn't help but clean up at the box office. Hope portrays theatrical critic Parker Ballantine, while Lucille Ball plays his wife Angela. Feeling "useless," Angela writes a play as a lark, then is amazed when it is optioned by a major producer. Parker does his best to get out of the responsibility of reviewing the play (which very well may be as bad as he thinks it is), but cannot escape the responsibility. Much of the verbal wit of the Levin original is sacrificed in favor of one-line quips; there is also an overabundance of gratuitous slapstick during a little-league game and the climactic "opening night" sequence. Still, Hope and Ball work together well as always. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
The Big Street
Lucille Ball delivers the finest dramatic performance of her career in this satisfying adaptation of Damon Runyon's The Big Street. Ball is cast as Gloria, aka "Your Highness," the vain and thoroughly selfish star attraction of gangster Case Ables' (Barton MacLaine) New York nightclub. Henry Fonda costars as busboy Little Pinks, who worships Gloria from afar. When Gloria is crippled by a fall downstairs-caused by a blow across the face by the sadistic Ables-Little Pinks selflessly waits upon the invalided and doggedly ungrateful songstress hand and foot. So devoted to Gloria is Pinks that he's willing to pilot her wheelchair from Manhattan to Florida so that she can renew her romance with callow playboy Decatur Reed (William Orr). Touched by Pinks' loyalty, his Runyonesque friends-Professor B (Ray Collins), Horsethief (Sam Levene), Mr. and Mrs. Nicely-Nicely Johnson (Eugene Pallette, Agnes Moorehead) and all the rest-raise enough money to open a Florida nightclub so that Gloria can put up a brave front. The ending is at once the most lachrymose and most effectively moving scene in the film, one that can only be spoiled if detailed here. Produced by Damon Runyon himself, The Big Street is one of the few completely successful filmed Runyon adaptations-as well as Lucille Ball's finest hour (and a half) on-screen. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
Dance, Girl, Dance
Based on a story by Vicki Baum (of Grand Hotel) fame, Dance, Girl Dance finds innocent young Judy (Maureen O'Hara) journeying to the Big Apple in hopes of gaining fame as a classical dancer. Instead she ends up as the "stooge" for raucous strip-tease artist Bubbles (Lucille Ball), who attempts to perform ballet before leering, catcalling, unappreciative burlesque audiences. Eventually, Judy and Bubbles both fall for playboy Jimmy Harris (Louis Hayward), a rivalry that culminates in a hair-pulling, eye-scratching cat fight. Eventually, Harris's ex-wife (Virginia Field) reels him back in, and Judy is hired by ballet producer and entrepreneur Steve Adams (Ralph Bellamy). In recent years, Dance, Girl, Dance has been canonized as a feminist manifesto, due to the fact that Dorothy Arzner was the director and because of Maureen O'Hara's climactic burlesque-house speech, in which she lambastes the male spectators for their puerile chauvinism. It should be noted, however, that Arzner became director only after Roy Del Ruth pulled out of the project. Uncertain how to promote the film, RKO Radio elected to sneak it into its first-run houses without fanfare, and the result was a $400,000 loss for the studio. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
Du Barry Was a Lady
The racy, ribald Cole Porter musical Du Barry Was a Lady is here given a thorough dry-cleaning by prudish MGM. Richard "Red" Skelton takes over the role of Louis Blore (played on Broadway by Bert Lahr), while Lucille Ball steps into the shoes of the original play's Ethel Merman. The story proposes that Blore is a men's room attendant in a New York nightclub who has a yen for gorgeous showgirl May Daly (Lucille Ball). After drinking a potent mixture, Louis dreams that he is King Louis XV of France, and May is the magnificent Madame Du Barry. Also showing up in Louis' dream is Alex Howe (Gene Kelly), who in "real life" is the guy who ends up with May at fade out-time. It's hard to determine what's more fun to watch in Du Barry Was a Lady: the three stars, the antics of supporting player Zero Mostel, or the incredible sequence in which Tommy Dorsey & His Band -- including drummer Buddy Rich -- perform in 18th century garb and powdered wigs. Five of the original Cole Porter songs are retained for this Technicolor-ful film: "Katie Went to Haiti," "Do I Love You, Do I?," "Well, Did You Evah?," "Taliostro's Dance,", and, best of all, "Friendship." ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
Cast & Crew
- Lucille Ball - Mame Dennis
- Robert Preston - Beauregard
- Bea Arthur - Vera Charles
- Kirby Furlong - Young Patrick
- Don Porter - Mr. Upson