At Home, BluRay/DVD Reviews

BELLS ARE RINGING (Warner Archives)

By • Feb 22nd, 2017 •

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BluRay review by Roy Frumkes

Vincente Minnelli’s way with color, a key signature of most of his work, are not in evidence for the first half of this Broadway adaptation. Yes, one of Judy Holliday’s dresses, and Dean Martin’s couch, are practically matching versions of a brash turquoise, which I guess is meant to establish a subliminal connection between them. However, that couch just does not seem appropriate for Martin’s living room…

Halfway through its 2 hr.+ running length, the film veers into AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER territory with an incognito Holliday promising against her will to meet Martin again in a week, and we sense that Fate will prevent it, compromising his creative renaissance. However these things don’t come to pass – cliché avoided.

Holliday was a natural, and out of that quality spring the most pleasant aspects of her performance, which otherwise, like the film, would be a bit uninspired in a 1950’s kind of way. But she inhabits the character like Denzel and company inhabit FENCES because she, like they, performed it first on stage. Others, like Maureen Stapleton, followed Judy off the stage and into celluloid.

The second half of the film is a different animal altogether. The colors are better, the songs are more memorable. “Just in Time” is a beautiful example. I’m mixed on the orchestration, but the set is elegant and the camera angles and moves are solid. It’s played a little too comically, though Judy can effortlessly recapture the right mood.

In a beatnick dive, young impressisonist Frank Gorshin does his amusing Brando.

After 70 minutes, our eyes are treated to a purple and black striped dress that’s an eye-opener. At 78 minutes Minnelli does it again with red. A delightful cha-cha number follows.

The ‘Name Dropping’ song is terrific fun, referencing such topical star images as Bardot, Cocteau, and Minnelli and Freed as well. Then there’s ‘The Party’s Over,’ another fine composition. ‘The Bonjour Tristesse Brassier Company’ is a grandstanding piece, ill-fit into the third act, though it obviously was a show-stopper on the stage.

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