Starring: Rosalind Russell, Jan Handzlik, Roger Smith, Forrest Tucker, Coral Browne, Fred Clark, Peggy Cass
Director: Morton DaCosta
Summary: An eccentric heiress tries to raise her nephew to be a free spirit
Other Nominations: Actress (Russell), Supporting Actress (Cass), Art Direction, Color Cinematography, Film Editing
-I won’t end up seeing I Want to Live! With Susan Hayward (despite getting 6 Oscar nominations including Director, Actress and Adapted Screenplay), but I would be surprised if Rosalind Russell didn’t deserve Best Actress for playing the title role. It’s difficult playing an eccentric character, as the natural inclination to to go too big and wild, or to just be “wacky.” Russell (who played the role in the original Broadway production) is fun and offbeat, but she still maintains an emotional connection with the audience because she’s still acts like a plausible human being. Her terrific performance is the main attraction here.
-This is a genuinely funny, bawdy and sweet movie for the most part-it’s a comedy that definitely has some heart to it
-The production design is a lot of fun: Russell has on about 30 dresses and hairstyles throughout the course of the movie, and her appartment changes designs at least 8-9 times, each being more over the top than the last. The whole movie is stylish, including the unusual artistic decision that comes from its stage roots-many scenes end with a fade to black and a spotlight on Russell and I thought it worked here.
-The movie is about being a free spirit and living life instead of just following the beaten path-this is fine, but the vast majority of people aren’t wealthy heiresses/children who inherited a massive fortune from their deceased father. These characters are divorced from any kind of common reality that a normal person might live it, so the message has some obvious counters to it from this perspective.
-At 2 hours, 23 minutes, it’s a bit long for a comedy and some of the scenes go on too long (Mame meeting her boyfriend’s family being the most obvious).
Really solid comedy with some heart, held together by an outstanding lead performance by Rosalind Russell