Saturday, December 18, 2010

Bohemian Rhapsody

I don't believe I have ever recommended the movie Auntie Mame before. It's airing tomorrow afternoon at 2:00 PM ET on TCM.

Rosalind Russell stars as Mame, and sure enough, she's an aunt. In fact, her nephew shows up right away at the beginning of the movie. It's the roaring 20s, and his parents have both died, leaving him with nobody else to raise him except his wealthy aunt Mame in New York. Mame, it turns out, doesn't just have the wealth to support living in an impossibly big New York apartment; she's got the lifestyle to boot. She's the ultimate bohemian, living for the pure joy of life and seemingly not caring what comes next. She really does care about her nephew Patrick, though, but as a bohemian, her caring isn't in the conventional way. Instead, she thinks that her brother was stuffy and that the conservator of her brother's estate has the wrong ideas for her young nephew, and that the best thing for her to do is to teach the nephew to enjoy life.

And so Mame begins to turn her nephew's life upside down, although hew own life gets turned inside out too, thanks in no small part to the coming of the Great Depression. Mame needs monetary support, and the best way to do it is to get herself a wealthy man, which she does in the form of Southern oil tycoon Forrest Tucker. While she remains a bohemian, the nephew falls under the influence of his conservator, and Tucker's socialite friends, to the point that, as the years pass, he feels some embarrassment for her as he tries to land a wife suitable for what his father's social status was.

Auntie Mame, however, is Rosalind Russell's movie all the way, and she's great. In fact, she had had a lot of practice in the role, as the movie is based on a Broadway play in which she had also played the lead. The movie version is also a bit of an homage to the play, as many of the scenes end with a fade to spotlight, which focuses on Mame, before the spotlight itself dims and we go to the next scene. It's a device for which I don't particuarly care, but if you focus on the story instead of the stage devices used, it's a pretty good story.

Auntie Mame has also been released to DVD.

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