© 1958 Warner Bros. Pictures

Auntie Mame (1958)

Occasionally I watch the wrong version of a film. One night about two years ago, I was trolling through my local video story trying to find a movie I hadn’t actually seen yet, and took out the 1974 version of Mame with Lucille Ball. Although I am a big fan of “I Love Lucy,” I thought this was pretty awful. Lucy was playing a middle-aged women, but at 62, she looked looked and felt too old for the role, and the musical number, which during a stage musical adaptation in the 60s were awkward on screen. Today, I finally got around to seeing the original 1958 film adaptation, starring Rosalind Russell, who developed the role on the Broadway stage. Russell absolutely owns the role of the rich and eccentric woman who raises the nephew she had never met from the ’20s, through the Great Depression, and into the ’50s, having a strong effect on his childhood and saving him from a bourgeois childhood. Auntie Mame is stagy, campy, and implausible, just the way it should be.

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