Mame Dennis, a progressive and independent woman of the 1920s, is left to care for her nephew Patrick after his wealthy father dies. Conflict ensues when the executor of the father's estate objects to the aunt's lifestyle and tries to force her to send Patrick to prep school.
I have no doubts that Mame Dennis' human counterpart must have been a larger-than-life character and Patrick Dennis must have held a huge admiration for this Renaissance woman who could touch anyone with her carefree attitude towards life. Rosalind Russell, who's only other major success in the Fifties (up until then) was a supporting role in PICNIC, single-handedly takes full charge of her comic timing to create a fully-formed person as Mame Dennis and in doing so has created a legacy that will be remembered a hundred years from now.
The story of AUNTIE MAME is well-known for both movie goers and for theatre goers who saw not only Roz but Angela Lansbury as well. Mame Dennis is an eccentric character of a woman who is raising a young boy, Patrick, and exposing him to a flurry of her own misadventures, including the loss of her fortune in the stock market crash. Mame, however, perseveres through her own joie-de-vivre and despite working menial jobs and a bit part in a play starring her friend Vera Ralston. She meets and marries Beauregard Jackson Burnside despite the machinations of his family (and especially Sally Cato), travels the world, becomes a widow, and in later years, has to confront that Patrick, now a grown man, is embarrassed by her very personality and is about to marry into conformity.
Morton daCosta has created an ageless movie with a dazzling set direction that reflects the passing of time and the evolution of Mame's persona. Clearly not one to value tradition, we see her home slowly go from a product of its time to an avant-guard, ultra sleek place, to a shrine of Eastern civilization. Mame herself evolves despite playing the flake: if anything, she is not a twit but someone who is aware of herself and what life is all about, and there is a touching scene near the end in which she is in full, golden regalia, looking like a Hindu goddess, in which we see the real woman inside pouring light onto the set as she prepares for her next journey. Who else could have done such a thing with this character? She, like this film, is perfect.
Reviewed by moonspinner557 / 10
"She's the Pied Piper!"
From the cartoon kaleidoscope opening to the last walk up the staircase for Mame Dennis, this comically-contrived and highly theatrical movie version of the celebrated Broadway success is nevertheless pleasing in almost every sense. Director Morton DaCosta, who also helmed the stage version, uses the theatricality of the piece to his advantage, giving the proceedings the shiny look and feel of a holiday bauble. The movie takes off running, bursting with chatter and frivolity, and Rosalind Russell is a great crazy-quilt hostess, often going in three directions at once. The story of an orphaned lad in 1928 who goes to live with his batty aunt in New York City started life as a book by Patrick Dennis, with Russell playing the lead once it was turned into a play. The film-version doesn't try to disguise the stage origins, but then it doesn't really have to; DaCosta keeps the pacing so brisk, with characters entering and exiting rapidly, that initially the viewer may feel as though something important may have been missed. The picture isn't loaded down with artificial charm. On the contrary, the romantic sub-plot between Russell and oil tycoon Forrest Tucker (which, again, is quick--in and out) is genuinely sweet (this is Tucker's triumph as much as it is Russell's) and the supporting players are impeccably well-cast, bouncing off each other like frenetic ornaments. While the plot does slip into an episodic structure (and does feel a bit lengthy), the smooth maneuvering of characters and quirks and hang-ups and hang-overs is an awful lot of fun. As for Russell, she gives shading and feeling to this woman; her exuberance can be taken as a put-on (for laughs), yet we never lose sight of Mame Dennis as a ballsy, bright lady, and she never lapses into bitchiness. Mame may have been real, or maybe just a literary confection, but she isn't a phony. She believes life is a banquet, and gets us to believe it too. *** from ****
Reviewed by MartinHafer7 / 10
what happened to the second half of the film?
I really liked the first portion of the movie when the little boy went to go live with his flamboyant and fun Auntie Mame. Watching all the interaction between her and the boy was really sweet and fun. And, when other "do gooders" tried to make her be a more conventional parent, this provided some wonderful moments as well. And so, up until towards the end, I really loved this film. And then, out of nowhere, the kid suddenly grows up in the space of only a few minutes and the film ends?! It was as if someone in charge said "hey--they public doesn't need a three hour film--just stop here and no one will be the wiser". And so, the story just seems to abruptly stop and left me very unsatisfied. It's too bad, as Rosalind Russell was in top form as the amazingly odd but lovable Auntie Mame.