Sunday, June 20, 2010

Bells are Ringing

I had the chance to watch Bells are Ringing last night.  An MGM musical from 1960 starring Judy Holliday and Dean Martin.  I first saw this film when it premiered at Radio City Music Hall in NY.  What a place!

A quick look at the cast listed on IMDb sends you to bit part Heaven!  So many actors and actresses were tapped for this film.  It was a little surprising to see so many familiar TV faces, especially in the street scene where Dean and Judy are saying "Hello" to everyone.  Many of theses actors and actresses were working in TV and also doing some movie parts.  I bet you will recognize most of the faces, but never knew their names.  I'd like to scan the faces later in that scene where Dean is singing while walking through the crowd.

Bells are Ringing includes the talents of Herb Vigran who has 324 roles listed to his credit from 1934 to 1987, Frank Richards (143 roles), Milton Parsons (155 roles), and Len Lesser (165 roles).  Of special note we heard Mae Questel as the voice of Olga on the phone.  Mae was also the voice of Olive Oyl and Betty Boop in cartoons.  In his first movie, Hal Linden was the nightclub singer who performed the classic tune, The Midas Touch.  Hal didn't even get screen credit.

One thing that looked like it really didn't belong in the film were the prat falls of Gil Lamb.  I can see one fall, tripping over Judy's removed skirt, but then he kept upstaging everyone to show how flexible he is.  It didn't work for me.

I hope you saw Leonard Bremen!  He was the man on the street who almost gets run over.  Of course, he is one of my choices for all time best bit actor.  His voice is very a character actor sort of way.

I must also mention the dentist/composer, Bernard West.  His was a small, but important part.  He didn't do much acting in his career, but he was a writer and producer of note.  In fact, he was the producer for "All in the Family" and of course, Jean Stapleton was in that and Bells are Ringing.  See how everything fits together?

If you've never seen Bells, please go rent or buy it.  Some reviews on IMDb have trashed it a bit, but this is a very entertaining film.  How can you beat the great musical numbers and orchestrations, the singing of Dean Martin, the comedy of Judy Holiday in her only color film, plus the wonderful character portrayals of Jean Stapleton and Eddie Foy, Jr.?

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