“What a perfect relationship: I can’t see him, he can’t see me!”
A benevolent answering service operator (Judy Holliday) tries to help her clients succeed in their careers by passing along information she hears, but her do-gooding efforts are threatened by a detective (Dort Clark) who believes she and her colleagues are running a house of ill repute; meanwhile, she falls in love with a client (Dean Martin) who knows her only as an older woman he calls “Mom”.
Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary writes that Judy Holliday’s final movie — in which she “reprised her Broadway role as a Brooklyn answering-service operator who uses her knowledge of her clients’ difficulties to help them out, without divulging who she is and how she knows their problems” — is “overlong and not particularly smooth”; but he argues that “Holliday, even below her peak, is well worth watching”. He notes that “one interesting point is that Holliday’s ‘dumb blonde’ is much more stable than the men in the film — however, her support for them, including Martin, comes more out of her need to be a mother than a friend or lover”. I’ll admit to finding this Vincente Minnelli-directed musical (with songs by Betty Comden, Adolph Green, and Jules Styne) one of the least compelling Holliday vehicles listed in Peary’s GFTFF; even Holliday’s naturally engaging presence can’t do much to elevate the storyline. The primary problem, as Peary hints, is that Martin and Holliday lack any real romantic tension: their “meet cute” (with Holliday crawling around Martin’s apartment after surreptitiously trying to wake him up for an important appointment) is poorly handled (why does he accept her presence so easily?), and Martin only seems to fall in love with Holliday because of her power as a muse. Meanwhile, the subplot involving thick-headed Clark’s pursuit of Holliday comes across as equally inane. This one is only must-see for diehard fans of Holliday and/or musicals.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Judy Holliday as Ella
No, though naturally Hollidays fans will want to check it out at least once.