Call Me Madam (1953)

Genres - Comedy, Musical  |   Sub-Genres - Musical Romance  |   Release Date - Apr 1, 1953 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 114 min.  |   Countries - USA  |  
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Call Me Madam gave Ethel Merman one of only two chances (the other being Anything Goes) to re-create one of her stage triumphs on film, and Madam is a much more faithful and successful adaptation than Anything Goes. Merman is in top form here, demonstrating why she was a legend on-stage and at the same time why she was rarely used to good advantage in Hollywood. Merman's persona, as outsized as her clarion voice, was too difficult to capture on film. It's not that she overplayed, it's that she overexisted. Fortunately, even on film, Madam's Sally Adams demands an actress that can't help but dominate the proceedings. Merman's inimitable belt is in solid form, punching home "The Hostess With the Mostess' on the Bell" and "Can You Use Any Money Today." Her duet with Donald O'Connor, "You're Just in Love," is a showstopper. O'Connor is a delight throughout, as is Vera Ellen as his love interest. Their duets, "It's a Lovely Day Today" and "Something to Dance About," are highlights. O'Connor has often called Ellen his favorite dancing partner, and they are indeed a perfect match. Much more surprising is George Sanders, who carries off his change-of-pace musical leading man part with considerable aplomb. The film is marred by rather pedestrian direction and the fact that the script is strained and often silly, but the cast and the score make it fine, undemanding entertainment.