Monday, June 12, 2006

Well, Hello, Dolly!

Director Gene Kelly, Producer Ernest Lehman, Star Barbara Streisand

Hello, Dolly!
Monday, June 12, 6:30 PM
Harvard Exit
Reception at the DAR, 5:00 PM

Despite being a 20th Century Fox production, Hello, Dolly! is a wonderful throwback to the great MGM musicals. Gene Kelly who was starred in and wound up co-directing films at the great studio directed it. The director of photography, associate producer, choreographer, the costumer designer and the set designer had all worked at MGM. The film shows it. Shooting in Todd-AO and De Luxe Color add to the lavishness of its look.

In this enchanting musical farce Dolly Levi, matchmaker, played by Barbara Streisand, aids a pair of young couples in their romantic pursuits while attending to her own ambition of landing the successful (and cantankerous) hay and feed merchant Horace Vandergelder played by Walter Matthau. Producer and writer, Ernest Lehman, actually improved the script from the book of the original stage version, filling out the characters and tying up loose ends.

At the time, controversy did surround the casting of Barbara Streisand in the lead role. One, Carol Channing had created the role brilliantly on stage and some felt she should play it. Two, Barbara Streisand was too young for the part. Channing, while astounding on the stage, especially as Dolly, has never come across well on film. Her performance style and personality simply do not work on the big screen. And while, Streisand was too young her voice and performance are first rate and the audience forgets their age objection within the first few moments. Plus, she had believable chemistry with co-star Walter Matthau which not a lot of women do. Glenda Jackson and Sophia Loren come to mind. He needs a diva and Streisand delivers.
The supporting cast includes Michael Cawford and Tommy Tune who both went onto greater things. Also in the cast and a stand alone reason to see the film is Louis Armstrong's brief role. His guest appearance is worth the price of admission.
This classic will be screening tonight, hosted by Seattle gourmand and restaurateur Tom Douglas and will be preceded by a reception across the street at the DAR starting at 5:00.


  1. I haven't seen the movie, but there was a piece in Sunday's New York Times about the musical as a new version has just opened at New Jersey's Paper Mill Playhouse with Tovah Feldshuh. Features (some fascinatingly bizarre) comments from Feldshuh and Carol Channing. Note that the author hates the big screen adaptation ("Please ignore the 1969 movie starring Barbra Streisand") and that the article is only good through 6/24 (unless you wanna pay to read it):

  2. I'm not a big 'Babs' fan, but I do like the Vincente Minnelli picture she did, and Funny Girl has one of the greatest musical numbers ever produced for a motion picture.