Since I’ve been having a tough time being motivated and finding inspiration to write posts, I figured why not go with something simple and obvious, a movie. I was watching Bells are Ringing earlier, and voila, here we are. Released in 1960, it stars Dean Martin and Judy Holliday, along with a fantastic supporting cast. It is based on the Broadway musical of the same name from 1956, which also featured Judy Holliday playing the main role of Ella.
Ella works for an answering service, where she plays different roles and voices, and doles out advice, for different clients while answering their phones and taking their messages, for which her boss (and cousin) chides her for being too personal. The client she is most invested in is Jeffery Moss (Martin), a playwright who has seem to hit a rough patch. Ella plays “Mom” for him, disguising her voice as an old woman. She is falling in love with him though she doesn’t even know what he looks like, as she sings about in “It’s a Perfect Relationship.” Getting too involved with the clients ends up leading to some silliness and mix ups, but she also gets to finally meet Jeffery Moss, though he doesn’t know she is “Mom.”
I love musicals, so to me, this is a real gem. Judy Holliday is so brilliant at comedy and her musical numbers in this movie are engaging and sweet with a few moments of sadness. She brings a realness, and subdued quality to “The Party’s Over,” while “I’m Going Back” is energetic and fun. She is captivating on screen and is an absolute pleasure to watch. Her chemistry with Dean Martin is excellent, as well.
Of course, Dean Martin exudes charm and croons as effortlessly as always. Like when he sings, “Just Do It” to himself while in his killer (oh my goodness, can I please have it) apartment while trying to motivate himself to get over his writer’s block. Or during one of my all-time favorite songs, “Just In Time.” (This was on my list to write about for my series My Heart Sighs.) Not only is his singing spot on, but his comedic timing is, too. I think Dean Martin was so underrated in his comedic acting, from his delivery to his facial expressions, he was hilarious. (As a side note, I’ve always thought he was the key to the Martin and Lewis movies. He was brilliant playing the straight man.)
There are other great songs in the movie, too. “It’s a Simple Little System” is a number with a chorus explaining classical music used to run a betting service. (You just have to watch the movie to see how it fits into the story!) “Drop That Name” is appropriately sung at a ritzy soiree, name dropping various famous stars including Fred Astaire, Cary Grant, Doris Day, Lassie, and many others.
As with most older movies, I’m also enthralled by the sets, clothes, cars, etc. As I mentioned above, Dean Martin’s character’s apartment is to die for: that aqua couch, his bar area, the chairs! Judy Holliday’s dresses are beautiful and lovely. The men are dressed dapper. It really is a feast for the senses, eyes and ears, alike.
A sad fact is that this was Judy Holliday’s last film, she died five years later in 1965 from breast cancer. She was so fiercely talented and delightful to watch, it’s heartbreaking that she was taken way too soon at the age of 43. This movie is just one of many of hers I pride myself on having in my collection. I highly recommend it and encourage you to take a peek and give it a go. You won’t regret it!