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Mame, starring Lucille Ball

Mame (1974) starring Lucille Ball, Bea Arthur, Robert Preston

Synopsis of Mame

Mame (1974) starring Lucille Ball, Bea Arthur, Robert Preston

Lucille Ball stars in MameMame is a film of the blockbuster Broadway musical that tells the story of the flamboyant, unconventional and, above all, glamorous Mame.

Review of Mame

I’m a large fan of Lucille Ball, and I truly expected to enjoy Mame.  Sadly, I didn’t.  I much prefer the earlier version with Rosalind Russell, for multiple reasons.  The musical numbers are actually engaging and enjoyable.  However, Lucy’s voice definitely became worse over time.  Compare her singing in Dance, Girl, Dance and it’s clear she’s been smoking for decades.  Frankly, Lucy should have made this movie a decade earlier.  But the overall problem for me has to do with the underlying story.

Open a New Window - Mame and Patrick

Mame thinks that everyone should live life with gusto, which I agree with.  However, she can only enjoy her hedonistic life due to being a wealthy widow.  Ordinary people face nasty consequences, like Agnes Gooch.  And Mame does many questionable things, like enrolling her nephew Patrick in a “modern” school where all of the teachers are naked.  It’s hard to imagine that in the day of the #MeToo movement.

Besides the musical numbers, there are other redeeming features of Mame.  The acting is good, even though the characters themselves aren’t very believable.  Her courtship with Robert Preston is quite sweet.  The loyalty of Mame’s servants/friends is quite endearing as well.

Songs in Mame

Cast of characters

  • Mame (Lucille Ball, I Love Lucy, The Long Long Trailer). The title character, who believes that life is to be enjoyed. She embraces the moment, and doesn’t think ahead to consequences. A nice enough lady, who quickly falls in love with her nephew:
  • Patrick (Kirby Furlong as young Patrick, Bruce Davidson (X-Men) as an adult). Mame’s orphaned nephew, who is thrust on her after her brother’s death. He’s an impressionable young man, that Mame loves and begins to mold in her own image. Though he rebels from that once he’s an adult.
  • Vera Charles (Bea Arthur, Maude, The Golden Girls). Mame’s best friend … or frenemy. She makes the mistake of giving Mame a small role in her Broadway production when Mame needs money. And, regrets it.
  • Agnes Gooch (Jane Connell, See No Evil Hear No Evil). Patrick’s governess, who delivers him to Mame and becomes part of the household. And Mame encourages the shy, timid Agnes to “live” — which she does. And then has to face the consequences …
  • Ito (George Chiang, Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen). Mame’s faithful butler, and good friend. After Mame loses all of her money in the stock market crash, he and the other servants give her the Christmas present of paying off her bills. After working for no salary for an extended period of time.

Bosom Buddies lyrics - performed by Bea Arthur and Lucille Ball in Mame (1974)
Editorial review of Mame, courtesy of Amazon.com

Lucille Ball stars in this film of the blockbuster Broadway musical that tells the story of the flamboyant, unconventional and, above all, glamorous Mame. In 1928, nine-year-old Patrick Dennis (Kirby Furlong) comes to live with his Auntie Mame (Ball), who has a generous heart, believes life should be a party and collects fascinating friends.

But the stock market crash of 1929 ends a decade-long fete and forces Mame into disastrous forays as an actress and a working woman, before doing what she knows best: marrying well. Once again wealthy, Mame returns to her self-appointed task of liberating friends and family from their bourgeois sensibility.