Search This Blog

Friday, September 13, 2013

Call Me Madam (1953)

Without any previous diplomatic experience, a popular Washington D.C. society hostess (Ethel Merman) is appointed U.S. Ambassador to the small European country of Lichtenburg. Once there, she must deal with the loan hungry representatives of the country as well as romantic involvements between her and a General (George Sanders) and her press attache (Donald O'Connor) with the country's Princess (Vera-Ellen). The 1950 Broadway show was a personal triumph for Merman (winning her a Tony) and she recreates her role here. Normally Merman's outsized personality and broad acting style didn't come across well on film though she was rather charming in her few film roles in the 1930s. But the role of Sally Adams fits Merman like a glove and her performance here gives an indication of what made her such a spectacular Broadway legend. As for the film itself, it played better in 1953. Nothing ages a film faster than topicality and scenes such as Merman talking with Harry Truman on the phone that must have had them rolling in the aisles then (the Margaret Truman jokes) don't play well anymore. The songs by Irving Berlin vary from good to great (the irresistible You're Just In Love) and Sanders, in a rare romantic lead, is a surprise with his full bodied baritone. Vera-Ellen, however, looks dangerously thin in some scenes and the ugly Irene Sharaff costumes she wears don't help any. Directed by Walter Lang. With Walter Slezak, Billy De Wolfe, Helmut Dantine, Lilia Skala (LILIES OF THE FIELD) and Steven Geray.

No comments:

Post a Comment