Auntie Mame (1958)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBBB

USA, 1958.  Warner Bros..  Screenplay by , , based on the novel by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

One of the funniest, most enjoyable romps ever to be produced is this hysterical comedy based on the popular Broadway play.  Rosalind Russell gives the signature performance of her career as the free-wheeling, liberally-minded society dame who takes in her recently orphaned nephew Patrick () and finds herself mad about him from the start. She raises him in an open minded environment that includes all manner of friends and educational styles, and nearly sees it all destroyed when a teenage Patrick () brings home an obnoxious bore of a white upper-middle-class suburban girl (). There’s nothing worse than conformity, of course, so naturally it’s Auntie Mame to the rescue!

On the surface it’s a breezy laugh fest, but you don’t have to look too deep to find the many ways in which Betty Comden and Adolph Green’s witty screenplay rightly criticizes the American social structure of racism, segregation and intolerance that reigned supreme in the 1950s (even Mame’s saving the fox from the hounds during a hunt in Georgia is a sharp political statement of its own).  Peggy Cass (like Russell recreating her Tony award-winning stage role) has a hysterical supporting turn as Miss Gooch, the geeky, raspy-voiced secretary who is assigned to help Mame write her memoirs. Remade in 1974 as an abysmal musical with a near-comatose Lucille Ball.

Academy Award Nominations:  Best Picture; Best Actress (Rosalind Russell); Best Supporting Actress (Peggy Cass); Best Cinematography-Colour; Best Art Direction; Best Film Editing

Golden Globe Awards:  Best Picture-Comedy; Best Actress-Musical/Comedy (Rosalind Russell)
Nomination: Best Supporting Actress (Peggy Cass)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s