Auntie Mame [1958]

Remember darlings, "Life's a banquet, and most suckers are starving to death." That tag line sums up this exuberant and immensely amusing 1958 comedy that can be seen repeatedly, as it never grows stale. Rosalind Russell plays the flamboyant aunt who takes in poor, orphaned Patrick, played with sophisticated ease by Jan Handzlik. Mame, all glitter and martinis, raises her nephew in a world filled with acceptance and her oddball literati friends. Nothing is too bohemian. This unfolds in colorful episodic segments that allow us to watch Patrick grow as Mame oversees his unusual upbringing while she juggles a few spouses and an extended household. Russell, who created the title role for the stage, simply shines. She is bright and brassy, but never goes too far over the top. Peggy Cass is a comedic delight as her befuddled secretary, and Coral Browne brings class to the production as her best friend. This was based on the exuberant stage play, which in turn was based on Patrick Dennis's humorous, bittersweet novel. The screen version was written by the clever duo of Betty Comden and Adolph Green. Not to be confused with the pathetically lackluster musical version starring Lucille Ball (1974), simply entitled Mame. --Rochelle O'Gorman

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