EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|GYPSY (director: Mervyn Leroy; screenwriters: Leonard Spigelgass/based on the musical by Arthur Laurents, Jule Styne and Stephen Sondheim/adapted from Gypsy, a Memoir by Gypsy Rose Lee; cinematographer: Harry Stradling, Sr.; editor: Philip W. Anderson; music: Frank Perkins; cast: Rosalind Russell (Rose), Natalie Wood (Louise aka Gypsy Rose Lee), Karl Malden (Herbie Sommers), Paul Wallace (Tulsa No. 2), Betty Bruce (Tessie Tura), Parley Baer (Mr. Kringelein), Morgan Brittany ("Baby" June), Ann Jillian ("Dainty" June), Faith Dane (Mazeppa), Harvey Korman (Phil, agent), Jack Benny (Himself); Runtime: 144; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Mervyn Leroy; Warner Home Video; 1962)|
|"A bloated musical that is far from great and
more like average."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Mervyn Leroy ("Little Caesar"/"Five
Roberts") makes things a long boring slog, as he directs this
vaudeville musical hit stage show that starred Ethel Merman on
Broadway. It was considered one of the greatest stage musicals ever.
For the movie it engaged popular movie star Rosalind Russell (hubby
owned the movie rights and she had more star appeal because of her film
career). The result was a fair box office success, and some critical
acclaim for the music, costumes and photography. Since Roz's singing
range was limited, Lisa Kirk provides the singing.
It's a bloated musical that is far
from great and more like average. It's based on the 1957 memoirs of
noted burlesque stripper Gypsy Rose
Lee, who tells of how in the early days her pushy showbiz mom Rose
(Rosalind Russell) got her into the business. The bubbly music is
provided by Jule Styne and Stephen Sondheim, and includes such numbers
as "Let Me Entertain You" "Baby" June,
"Dainty"; "Some People," "Small World," "Everything's
Coming Up Roses," "Rose's Turn"; "You'll Never Get Away From Me"; "Mr.
Goldstone"; "Baby June
and the Newsboys"; "Little Lamb"; "Dainty June
and Her Farmboys"; "If Mama Was Married"; "All I Need Is the Girl";
"Together Wherever We Go"; "You Gotta Have
Domineering Mama Rose has two
daughters, the older June (Morgan
Brittany), billed as "Dainty
June", and the younger Louise (Natalie
Wood). Nice guy Herbie
Sommers (Karl Malden) is a stage director in love with Rose and becomes
manager-agent who gets gigs for the child stars on the vaudeville
circuit. Rose is more interested in career ambitions for her daughters
than marriage to Herbie, which eventually turns him off and leaves her
alone until the climax. Even though June has the better roles as a
singer dancer, Mom pushes Louise to be the star of a burlesque show.
With the decline of vaudeville, the shy Louise goes against mom's
wishes and works her way into becoming Gypsy Rose Lee --the world's
most famous stripper stripper.
June outgrows her childish act and
goes it solo, eventually becoming famous as the actress June Havoc.
A miscast skinny Natalie Wood no
way can convince as being the voluptuous stripper, while the
unappealing Russell is no Merman and does the pic no great favor as its
scene stealing brash star; which are only two of the mistakes that keep
things phony looking. The uneven bittersweet musical about the "mother"
of all pushy stage mothers has some entertainment value, but never
sizzles as it should have.
REVIEWED ON 5/20/2010 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ