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01 August 2011

Hello Dolly! (1969) [Musical Film-a-Thon] 20#

Directors: Gene Kelly
Genre: Musical, Comedy, Romance
Runtime: 146 Minutes 
It’s singing dancing musical fun that is better than the reputation it has for sure. Streisand was an odd pick for sure and her singing voice is different and sounds as if it has multiple different accents and overall it is somewhat annoying. The songs around her were fun and the choreography was very energetic at times. ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ star Gene Kelly was in the director’s chair for the stage-to-film adaption and did an okay job with executing the numbers. It may not be as good as musicals like ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ and ‘Chicago’ but it is certainly good musical fun that is better than received.


The plot, drawn from Thornton Wilder's The Matchmaker (itself based on a 19th-century British farce), is set in motion when Yonkers feed store clerk Cornelius Hackl (Michael Crawford) celebrates his promotion by taking his pal Barnaby Tucker (Danny Lockin) to New York City for a "corking good time." But Cornelius and Barnaby can't avoid crossing paths with their boss Horace Vandergelder (Walter Matthau), who'd give them Holy Ned if he saw them in a fancy restaurant with two fancy girls instead of tending the store. Mr. Vandergelder himself is the object of Dolly's affections, though she pretends to have only a professional interest in the widowed merchant, going through the motions of finding him a new wife when in fact she'd like to be the lucky bride herself.


I think what the major problem people would have with the film’s main characters, because there is not one solely character. Sure Dolly Levi makes everything happen, but the story follows them also so really there is like 3 storylines to it. Barnaby and Cornelius find two love lives because of the set up Dolly made, Horace is a grumpy old man in search to marry and Dolly herself wishes to marry Horace. Dolly herself is a nice character for sure and Barbara Streisand was excellent. One thing I found impressive is the speed she said her lines in some scenes. It was just a constant flow of sentences. One example is the dinner scene with her and Mr Vandergelder.



Horace is one of the grumpiest characters I have ever seen and right up to the end of the film, he is nothing less than mean. This may be another weak point to the film and is why people do not like it, but some of the songs are nice and the two characters that I really card bout where Barnaby and Cornelius. They for me seemed like the innocent sweet characters of our story and their song ‘Put on your Sunday Clothes’ is pretty much the best. The song Horace sings was boring because of his expressionless emotion and even though that is his character, it was not amusing to see him singing ‘It takes a woman’. To my surprise, Gene Kelly was the director, who before this film was a huge success in ‘Singin’ in the Rain’. Although he made a slight mess the choreography was nice, but from someone of his stature you would expect a little more.

Some of the musical numbers are lacking, some of the characters lack fun but some of the songs where entertaining and Barnaby and Cornelius’s plot lines where beautiful. The song that captures the moment is ‘It Only Takes a Moment’. What impressed me was that Jazz legend Louis Armstrong is in it in the song ‘Hello Dolly’. His voice is remarkable and it sounds quite unreal. The set pieces were authentic, colourful but it did not fully capture the 1890’s look. It felt a little more ahead of itself. Overall, with some delightful tunes, warm characters and semi-weak plotline, ‘Hello Dolly’ is still a reasonably enjoyable musical film.


My Rating: 7/10

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