[Note: The following review is of a non-Guide for the Film Fanatic title; click here to read more.]
“Life is a banquet — and most poor suckers are starving to death!”
When a young orphan named Patrick (Jan Handzlik) goes to live with his eccentric Aunt Mame (Rosalind Russell) in New York, the executor (Fred Clark) of his deceased father’s estate worries that Patrick will be subjected to “unhealthy” influences — but Patrick grows into an upstanding young man (Roger Smith) with a mind of his own, eventually deciding to marry a stuffy socialite (Joanna Barnes) who’s radically different from free-spirited Mame.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Character Studies
- Play Adaptation
- Raising Children
- Rosalind Russell Films
This Oscar-nominated adaptation of Jerome Lawrence’s play (based on Patrick Dennis’ bestselling novel) is conspicuously missing from Peary’s book. Despite its flaws — it was nowhere close to being one of the best films of the year — it nonetheless holds a special place in film fanatic history, given that Rosalind Russell (who originated the title role on Broadway) is the definitive Mame. While Oscar-nominated Peggy Cass as Agnes Gooch is (to me) less impressive, and Yuki Shimoda’s turn as Ito the butler is painful to watch, others — including Coral Browne as Mame’s lifelong acting friend, Jan Handzlik as young Patrick, and Forrest Tucker as a wealthy southerner who falls head over heels for Mame during the Depression — do a fine job bringing the heart-warming story to life. Some portions of the 2-hour-plus episodic narrative are, inevitably, better than others (the entire Deep South sequence, for instance, could easily have been omitted), but the structure is perfectly suited to Mame’s live-each-day-as-it-comes philosophy, and there are countless laugh-out-loud moments. Indeed, it’s hard not to be amused by Mame’s reactions to the inexplicable stuffiness of most folks — we could all use a bit of her world-view.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Rosalind Russell as Mame
- Mame enduring a visit with Patrick’s obnoxious in-laws-to-be
- The cool kaleidoscopic opening titles
Yes, simply for Russell’s noteworthy, historically relevant performance as Mame.
- Noteworthy Performance(s)
- Oscar Winner or Nominee