[Last Film I Saw] Hello, Dolly! (1969)

Hello, Dolly! poster

Title: Hello, Dolly!
Year: 1969
Country: USA
Language: English
Genre: Musical, Comedy, Romance
Director: Gene Kelly
Michael Stewart
Thornton Wilder
Ernest Lehman
Music: Jerry Herman
Cinematography: Harry Stradling Sr.
Barbra Streisand
Walter Matthau
Michael Crawford
Marianne McAndrew
Danny Lockin
E.I. Peaker
Tommy Tune
Joyce Ames
Judy Knaiz
Louis Armstrong
David Hurst
Fritz Feld
J. Pat O’Malley
Rating: 7.3/10

Hello, Dolly! 1

An expensive, large-scale and larger-than-life musical stars an odd pairing of Barbra Streisand and Walter Matthau, it is only Streisand’s second film after her surprising Oscar coup in big screen débutante FUNNY GIRL (1968), what’s more opportune than an out-and-out musical to exploit Streisand’s mellifluous voice and continue her winning streak as a new movie star was born! Also directed by the musical legendary Gene Kelly, it is one of the most lavish and enjoyable vaudeville ever! It is one of the top-grossing movie of 1969, but due to the decline of the cinema attendance, it was unsuccessful to earn back its pricy budget, hereinafter, the genre once was Hollywood’s predominant sustenance began to ebb until MOULIN ROUGE! (2001) and CHICAGO (2002) have bucked the trend in the noughties.

Hello, Dolly! 2

An opening tracking shot follows galloping hoofs, shining shoes from motley passengers, widow-cum-matchmaker Dolly Levi (Streisand) needs a splendid entrance to give away her name-card in the train station, she is on her way to conquest the half-a-millionaire bachelor Horace Vandergelder (Matthau) in Yonkers, so she assists the elopement of Horace’s niece Ermengarde (Ames) with the willowy artist Ambrose (Tune), sabotages Horace’s proposal intention with milliner Irene Molloy (McAndrew) by setting her up with Horace’s clerk Cornelius (Crawford) beforehand.

Hello, Dolly! 3

Dolly in her mauve dress

In the New York one-day excursion, it encompasses a park cruise, a grand parade and a sumptuous banquet with many delightful interludes, culminates in a boisterous roughhouse leaving Horace and Dolly negating their possibility of marriage and whatsoever.

The parade

The parade

Maybe it drags too long (a total running time of 2.5 hours) for all the fanfare of the stunningly orchestrated choreography and catchy music number renditions (Louis Armstrong has a charming cameo as the band leader in the hotel ), the banal and invariable happy-ending arrives hastily no matter how reluctant it seems to be.

the odd pairing

the odd pairing

Leaving aside the pompous man-seeking character settings of Dolly Levi (an overachieving rip-off of MARY POPPINS 1964), who is inexplicably a power house figure in the posh New York high society, and the sanctimonious quest of a sign from her late husband to let her go, Streisand is a composed singer radiant with her own flair, garrulously eloquent in her non-singing performances, but the lack of spark between her and Matthau is embarrassing. It is Crawford and McAndrew who vindicate the true romance in their subplot, which dissipates the stinking haughtiness all over the place.

Lockin, Peaker, McAndrew and Crawford, two lovey-dovey couples

Lockin, Peaker, McAndrew and Crawford, two lovey-dovey couples

In a word, HELLO, DOLLY! is a family-friendly, entertaining picture but curtailed by its own unwieldy flamboyance, but Gene Kelly and Jerry Herman should be hailed for their paramount knack in cooking such a superfluously dazzling banquet which would be much better with some sensible self-moderation.

Armstrong's cameo

Armstrong’s cameo


2 thoughts on “[Last Film I Saw] Hello, Dolly! (1969)

  1. Pingback: [Last Film I Saw] West Side Story (1961) [8/10] | Cinema Omnivore

  2. Pingback: [Last Film I Watched] My Fair Lady (1964) – Cinema Omnivore

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