Bells Are Ringing [1960]

Judy Holliday's final film, Bells Are Ringing, is, fittingly enough, a tailor-made vehicle for her brassy talent. She'd won a Tony for the Broadway version of the show, playing an overly sympathetic telephone receptionist who gets involved in her customers' lives. Betty Comden and Adolph Green adapted their stage musical, amusingly framing the film as a TV commercial for "Susanswerphone," the answering service Judy works for. Director Vincente Minnelli, in one of his less inspired outings, seems content to showcase Holliday's crack comic timing, which appears to have been transferred almost intact from the stage. Despite the somewhat muted tone, there are delightful bits: a typical Comden & Green showbiz party (with a number about name-dropping), Frank Gorshin's send-up of a Brando-inflected actor, and Dean Martin crooning while shouldering his way through a Manhattan crowd. "The Party's Over," that unforgettable end-of-the-evening lament, and "Just in Time" are the Jule Styne standards from the score. --Robert Horton

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