Rosalind Russell is ‘Auntie Mame’



Auntie Mame is a delicious film from 1958 starring Rosalind Russell in the title role. Ms. Russell was nominated for an Academy Award and received the Golden Globe for her performance in this film and the movie garnered other nominations and awards. The movie was based on the novel by the same name by Patrick Dennis. After this film it was later made into a musical with Lucille Ball as Mame Dennis. But it is Russell who embodies the character with every cell in her body.

Mame is a force of nature, to say the least. She is a free- spirit filled with love and a lust for life. When her brother dies, leaving custody of his son Patrick to Mame, she embraces the young lad with all the spirit with which she embraces life. She intends to widen his eyes and have him explore everything life has to offer, however that gets waylaid when the executive of the will, Dwight Babcock (Fred Clark) comes into the picture and insists Patrick be sent away to boarding school where he will be molded into a man of character.

Mame adores Patrick and he feels the same toward her. They are two of a kind, even though Babcock wants to knock that free-spirited sense of adventure out of the young lad.

One of the upper class, Mame is hit hard by the stock market crash and has to find a way of supporting herself and Patrick in the manner in which they are accustomed. When she meets Beauregard Jackson Pickett Burnside (Forrest Tucker), they are instantly attracted to each other and with their marriage Mame’s bank account is once again exploding. But things don’t go according to plan.

Soon Mame hires Agnes Gooch (Peggy Cass) (Patrick’s original nanny) to be her assistant. Mame and her dearest friend Vera Charles (Coral Browne) take on a new project. This time they set their sights on Agnes and send her out into the world to experience life the way they do.

All the characters are enjoyable to watch as the years progress and they each endure life with gusto. Well, except for Babcock who is keen to have the grown-up Patrick (Roger Smith) marry the snooty heiress Gloria Upson (Joanna Barnes), to Mame’s dismay and ultimate displeasure. But don’t worry. Mam has everything under control – her way. And who can fight a hurricane like Mame Dennis? No one!

This is truly an enchanting story, and Russell deserved the Academy Award, which went to Susan Hayward who also gave a magnificent performance in her film I Want to Live! Russell did win five Golden Globes and was nominated for four Oscars. In 1973 she was awarded the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at the Academy Awards.

Rosalind Russell makes this film. It is a pure delight from beginning to end, and the score makes it a perfect 10. A bonus feature on this new Blu-ray edition is a music track filled with the wonderful score by Bronislau Kaper and the memorable theme song.

Auntie Mame is now available on Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection. It can purchase at their website or online retailers where DVDs and Blu-rays® are sold.

About the Author

Francine Brokaw has been covering all aspects of the entertainment industry for over 20 years. She also writes about products and travel. She has been published in national and international newspapers and magazines as well as Internet websites. She has written her own book, Beyond the Red Carpet The World of Entertainment Journalists, from Sourced Media Books.

Follow her on Twitter

‘Hidden Figures’ on Blu-ray


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Hidden Figures is not only an inspirational film, but it is also an historical one as well. It brings to light the stories of three women whose stories have been kept in the closet, so to speak. The time was 1961. NASA was preparing to launch astronauts into space and eventually reach the moon. Women were second string when it came to working in businesses, and especially the agency. And blacks were segregated in the south.

Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer), and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae) worked in the Virginia campus of NASA as computers, the term used to describe their positions. This was 1961, the time that pre-dated actual computers. These women were the ones who crunched the numbers. They were basically the same as the white male engineers, but due to the time in history, they were not considered as equals.

Most people have never heard of these three women, but after watching this film they will understand how important they were to the history of America.

Johnson’s genius in mathematics earned her a position in the all-male all-white engineer department. The men did not welcome her with open arms. But her intellect and steadfastness gained her the recognition she deserved, although it took time.

Jackson wanted to apply to be an engineer but needed some specific classes to fulfill the requirements. They were given at an all-white school. Her determination led her to petition the court to allow her to attend classes, and she finally integrated the school.

And Vaughan was concerned that her job and those of the other women at NASA would be non-existent with the installation of the big IBM computer. She realized it took people to run it so she set out to learn everything she could about this new machine and eventually took over the department.

Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst, and Jim Parsons add superb content to the film.

Bonus features on the Blu-ray are just as fascinating as the movie itself. As Kevin Costner states, this story was “buried in history.” Viewers also learn the history of NACA, which became NASA, and gain more insight into the women and the agency. The real Katherine Johnson comments about her experiences at NASA. Also, viewers learn how the movie came to be made. It was filmed in Georgia with a crew that was 33 percent women. That was a change from films today that use about 20 percent women on the crews. Deleted scenes round out the additional features.

Hidden Figures was nominated for three Academy Awards. It’s rated PG for thematic elements and some language. This is a great movie to watch with your family. It’s not only engaging but also a wonderful lesson for us all.

About the Author

Francine Brokaw has been covering all aspects of the entertainment industry for over 20 years. She also writes about products and travel. She has been published in national and international newspapers and magazines as well as Internet websites. She has written her own book, Beyond the Red Carpet The World of Entertainment Journalists, from Sourced Media Books.

Follow her on Twitter

‘Bells are Ringing’ on Blu-ray

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Bells are Ringing is a fun 1960 musical romantic comedy starring Dean Martin and Judy Holliday. The score was nominated for an Academy Award. Martin and Holliday sing a fun duet, “Just in Time,” that will leave viewers humming the tune for days.

The story centers on a loveable switchboard operator named Ella (Holliday) who takes a personal interest in the clients. Ella’s cousin Sue (Jean Stapleton) owns Susanswerphone, which is a service that provides message taking and wake up calls. Keep in mind this was long before answering machines. As switchboard operators, Ella is supposed to answer calls, take messages, and provide wake-up call service. But she goes far beyond that, to Sue’s frustration.

Jeffrey Moss (Martin) is a writer who can’t get his mind on his work. He loves women and booze but if he doesn’t finish this latest project, his career will be over.

Sue’s boyfriend Otto (Eddie Foy Jr.) is an unscrupulous bookie that dupes Sue into letting him run his “music business” out of her office. She thinks they are taking orders for record albums, but in fact they are taking bets on horses.

The fun begins when Ella goes to Jeffrey’s apartment to nudge him back to work. He has no idea she is the sweet little old woman from his answering service whom he calls “Mom.” Ella proves to be his muse and he gets back to work. Meanwhile, the two fall in love. This is a romantic comedy after all.

Younger generations might not be familiar with Judy Holliday, who was an accomplished actress/comedian/singer. She is fun to watch as the meddling but well-meaning Ella in this, her final film before her death. Martin brings his A-game to this role both singing and acting. And, as most women agree, he’s gorgeous.

Ella manages to help several of her clients with one fell-swoop and in the process she saves her cousin’s business.

Besides the duet with Martin, Holliday sings “The Party’s Over” and some other delightful tunes. This film is an adaptation of the Tony-winning Broadway play in which Holliday originated the role of Ella. After seeing this, it is difficult to think of anyone else in this role. She’s perky, adorable, and fun as the meddling Ella who finds the love of her life is on the other end of the phone line.

There is a bonus feature about the making of the film. This was Holliday’s final film before her death. Hal Linden costarred in the Broadway version of the film and has a small role in the movie. In a bonus feature he discusses this role and the song he sings, “The Midas Touch.”

If you’re looking for a cute old-fashioned date-night movie or just one that will leave you smiling, check out Bells are Ringing. It’s part of the Warner Archive Collection and can be ordered from their website.

About the Author

Francine Brokaw has been covering all aspects of the entertainment industry for over 20 years. She also writes about products and travel. She has been published in national and international newspapers and magazines as well as Internet websites. She has written her own book, Beyond the Red Carpet The World of Entertainment Journalists, from Sourced Media Books.

Follow her on Twitter