Ethel Merman

Ethel Merman

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At The Opening Of 'Ethel Merman's Broadway' At El Portal Theater

Doris Roberts and Ethel Merman Thursday 17th February 2011 at the opening of 'Ethel Merman's Broadway' at El Portal Theater Hollywood, California, USA

Doris Roberts and Ethel Merman

Call Me Madam Review


Very Good
Broadway legend Ethel Merman is known more these days for badgering Milton Berle in It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, that blunderbuss 1963 super-comedy that is replayed ad infinitum on cable TV. This is because her brilliant Broadway star turns -- Panama Hattie, DuBarry Was a Lady, Annie Get Your Gun, Gypsy -- are all lost to history, the film versions of her Broadway roles played by Ann Sothern, Lucille Ball, Betty Hutton, and Rosalind Russell, brilliant women all, but no Merman. The exception to the rule was Irving Berlin's Call Me Madam, the archetypal Merman star vehicle, for which Merman won a Tony Award. This was one performance where Merman was the whole show and, in 1953, a film version had to have Merman in the lead and Twentieth Century Fox did right by Merman in Walter Lang's breezy and brassy adaptation.

On the surface, Berlin's energetic Broadway show is extremely dated. The Howard Lindsay and Russell Crouse book is a gentle satire of the Washington scene circa 1951, so there are a plethora of Harry Truman jokes that may have been hilarious in 1951 but in this post-history millennium may be greeted with obtuseness from viewers whose sense of history expired with Swing Vote. It is also an old-fashioned musical vehicle, the slim plot being a bald excuse to showcase Merman.

Continue reading: Call Me Madam Review

It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World Review


Very Good
It's also long, long, long... well, you get the picture. Mad, Mad World is the brainchild of director Stanley Kramer, best known for films like Inherit the Wind and Judgment at Nuremburg, who figured he really ought to take a shot at directing a comedy, and what the hell if it's over 3 hours long (his first cut was 5 1/2 hours, actually). Kramer hired every comedian in Hollywood -- counting cameos represents Mad, Mad World's special thrill -- and sent them on a chase across southern California in search of $350,000 that a dying Jimmy Durante alludes to after a car wreck. The ensuing adventures stretch the definition of the word madcap.

Of course, this is what we owe movies like Cannonball Run to. But the original will always reign as the only two-tape comedy on the rental rack. Enjoy.

Continue reading: It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World Review

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Ethel Merman Movies

It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World Movie Review

It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World Movie Review

It's also long, long, long... well, you get the picture. Mad, Mad World is...

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