Comscore

Video analysis: Miscast Mame Angela Lansbury vs. Lucille Ball

Will42 Profile Photo
Will42
Broadway Star
joined:5/27/10
Loved it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tISsu3bsGnw

It also has some rare clips of Dame Angela's stage performance.
Gothampc
Broadway Legend
joined:5/20/03
While it's an interesting video analysis, and I'm the first to say how bad Maimed is, I don't necessarily think it's justified.

I don't think it's really fair to compare a stage performance with a movie performance. Angela was playing to the back of the house. Lucy had to pull it in for the big screen.

You have to see the movie as a vanity project. Lucy always wanted to be a musical comedy star and this was her last attempt to make that happen. Plus, prior to filming she had been in a ski accident and didn't have the flexibility she thought she had.

I also think that Lucy was drawn to the potential comedy of the piece, but didn't realize that some of what Roz Russell did was replaced by music.

Additionally, everyone always praises Angela's vocals. Of course her phrasing and characterization are always perfect, but her voice is more warble than singing. It's not as bad a sound as Lucy's, but Angela's sound isn't perfect.

Yes Angela pulled off a better Mame than Lucy did, but if you look at "Murder She Wrote" Angela can mug her way through a show with the best of them.
If anyone ever tells you that you put too much Parmesan cheese on your pasta, stop talking to them. You don't need that kind of negativity in your life.
Jay Lerner-Z Profile Photo
Jay Lerner-Z
Broadway Legend
joined:4/4/11
Theadjack (?), but why was the 1983 revival a flop?
Gothampc
Broadway Legend
joined:5/20/03
"but why was the 1983 revival a flop?"

The show had been touring the country. The producers wanted to bring it into New York, but they brought it in during the middle of the Summer with zero publicity. I think at one point it was said that Angela had wanted to wait until after Labor Day, but the producers didn't want to spend the money to put the show on ice. Also, it was playing the Gershwin which is a huge house and I think they were using tour sets so it didn't look all that great for a Broadway production.
If anyone ever tells you that you put too much Parmesan cheese on your pasta, stop talking to them. You don't need that kind of negativity in your life.
Jay Lerner-Z Profile Photo
Jay Lerner-Z
Broadway Legend
joined:4/4/11
Ah, interesting, thanks. I knew it couldn't've been down to Angela's performance.

Updated On: 8/28/14 at 09:31 PM
Mr. Nowack Profile Photo
Mr. Nowack
Broadway Legend
joined:2/2/14
^^^^^^
I always found the FORBIDDEN BROADWAY spoof of that revival hilarious for some reason.

LA CAGE stole all our fire, and their queen-y choir, upstaged Ann Francine!

Did we need a bigger star? Or a loud comedienne?
Should I have walked out on it all,
And Let Lucille Ball
Wreck the show again!




I was previously known as Mr. Nowak (Joined: 5/20/13).
Updated On: 8/28/14 at 09:37 PM
Gothampc
Broadway Legend
joined:5/20/03
Yes, the Forbidden Broadway spoof was one of their best.

If the show ran past Labor Day

No more revivals!
If anyone ever tells you that you put too much Parmesan cheese on your pasta, stop talking to them. You don't need that kind of negativity in your life.
Gothampc
Broadway Legend
joined:5/20/03
"I knew it couldn't've been down to Angela's performance."

It was just down to everyone was out of New York for the summer and nobody knew it was coming in. And this was back when Times Square was still grungy so the tourist crowd wasn't what it is today.
If anyone ever tells you that you put too much Parmesan cheese on your pasta, stop talking to them. You don't need that kind of negativity in your life.
lovebwy Profile Photo
lovebwy
Broadway Legend
joined:4/22/12
I know the title is "Miscast Mame". And Lansbury is brilliant on stage. But I hate to see Lucy raked over the coals and not respond.

Lucy's performance in some episodes of I Love Lucy was as brilliant television comedy as has ever been done. I'm thinking specifically of Vitametavegamin. If you watch the clip she sets it up beautifully, and attacks it with perfect, sublime comedy timing. No one on earth could have done it better.

That said, post I Love Lucy something seemed to happen to her. And I would agree that casting her in Mame was a terrible mistake.
Lucy
beaemma
Stand-by
joined:11/24/09
I saw the original MAME in 1966 and the 1983 revival. There weren't many differences. The revival set was designed to travel, but wasn't thrift shop at all. It did look a bit sparse on the huge stage of the Gershwin, which was too big a house for the show. There was an impressive lighted backdrop that doesn't really show up in most of the tapes floating around. Those tapes were shot from the balcony and mainly show the floor of the stage. The design had more to it than can be seen in the videos. The producers intended a brief tour, a Broadway run, and more touring. The first tour stop didn't sell well, and the producers panicked and brought the show to New York on very short notice. It had no advance publicity, wasn't even in the TIMES listings at first. It was the slow season, and many critics were out of town when it opened. When it did get reviewed, the reviews were reasonably good. The two times I saw it, the audience was crazy about the production. Some said the show was too old fashioned for the eighties; but I thought it was a combination of wrong time (summer), wrong place (the Gershwin), and no publicity until it was too late. The show played for several weeks, though, heavily discounted; and that was the end.
Wilmingtom
Broadway Legend
joined:7/18/11
Part of the hasty decision to bring the tour in was so that when the tour resumed they could position it as "Straight From Broadway!" But that production was just fine. And had Lucy done the picture right after the original production, she would have been wonderful. Unfortunately by the time she did it, her due date in the role had long expired.
darreyl102 Profile Photo
darreyl102
Broadway Legend
joined:8/23/08
I have the boot of the 1982 Revival- Angela is fabulous as always and the set does look Small on that huge stage.

Lucy herself has said that she wasn't the best singer, and by the time she made Mame, her voice had suffered from years of smoking and too old for the part.
Darreyl with an L!
Patash Profile Photo
Patash
Broadway Legend
joined:5/27/08
I'm a little puzzled by all the references to "by the time they made the movie" and "had Lucy done the picture right after the original production, she would have been wonderful. Unfortunately by the time she did it, her due date in the role had long expired."

The Broadway show closed in 1970 and the movie went into production in 1972. It's not like it was years and years later.
StageStruckLad Profile Photo
StageStruckLad
Featured Actor
joined:3/13/13
The movie of MAME is my favorite trainwreck movie musical. Lucy's performance (especially in the musical numbers) is just so wrong on pretty much every level. That said, Bea Arthur, Jane Connell, and Robert Preston are all wonderful. The title song is still a lot of fun onscreen. And although I think it was a huge mistake to change "If He Walked Into My Life" into an interior monologue, I still get a little choked up every time Mame turns around and sees a memory of little Patrick sneaking into the room.

I wonder if the rights to that videotaped version of the 1983 tour will ever be untangled so we can finally enjoy it.
henrikegerman Profile Photo
henrikegerman
Broadway Legend
joined:4/29/05
"Lucy's performance in some episodes of I Love Lucy was as brilliant television comedy as has ever been done. I'm thinking specifically of Vitametavegamin. If you watch the clip she sets it up beautifully, and attacks it with perfect, sublime comedy timing. No one on earth could have done it better. "

Lovebwy, he's not trashing Lucy as a talent. He's saying a great performance isn't about resting on one's laurels and he's also saying not everyone is right for every role.

"Performances aren't about who you are, they are about what you do." Well, acting is really about both and one other thing (not just who you are and what you do but what you want). The "who you are" first has to do with whether a role might potentially be right for you. Then it is about building the character you are in the role. Knowing who you are as that character informs "what you want." The "what you want" informs "what you do."

If you are well cast and you know who you are in the character and you know what you want and you make rich, specific choices, then you are ready to make the performance come alive with "what you do." (With a little magic and inspiration.... let's not leave out the mysteries in the process.) But it doesn't happen in a vacuum.

I thought this guy's analysis was thoughtful, and I'm especially glad he pointed out that hindsight is 20/20 and that even with Lansbury, the movie might not have worked and/or made money.


Updated On: 8/29/14 at 10:24 AM
Gothampc
Broadway Legend
joined:5/20/03
Lucy would have never, ever done it, but what she should have done was hired Julie Andrews to play Mame and Lucy should have played Vera. In the movie, it always bugged me that Mame and Vera were both played by bass-baritones.

If anyone ever tells you that you put too much Parmesan cheese on your pasta, stop talking to them. You don't need that kind of negativity in your life.
Updated On: 8/29/14 at 10:31 AM
beaemma
Stand-by
joined:11/24/09
I don't think early sixties is necessarily too old for MAME. After all, Patrick's father could have been an older man with a younger wife who made him a father in his forties or fifties. Mame might have been his older sister and was the type of woman who'd be vibrant at any age. The problem was that Lucy didn't have the voice for the songs and that her recent broken leg limited her abilities in the dance numbers. The oddly soft focus didn't make Lucy look younger, just like she existed in a different universe than all the other characters. I wonder whether the unsuccessful movie tarnished the reputation of the show and was partly responsible for the failure of the revival.

I think the comparison video makes some good points about the acting, especially in "If He Walked into My Life;" but his comments about Lansbury's movement in "It's Today" should give some credit to Onna White's choreography. It was recreated by Diana Baffa-Brill in the revival. Of course, Lansbury was capable of doing it with the necessary style, energy, and musicality.
darquegk Profile Photo
darquegk
Broadway Legend
joined:2/5/09
I think we tend to see Mame as very much an almost matronly part today. I have no huge attachment to the musical, although I admire it, but I happen to love the two Auntie Mame novels.

Mame, in the novel, begins in her mid-thirties and ages unusually gracefully into what we would call a cougar today, still looking youthful and even sexy by her early fifties (though still trying somewhat awkwardly to pass herself off as younger than she is). On stage and on film, Mames tend to START around 50, and "sexy" is never a word that one would use to describe Mame.
henrikegerman Profile Photo
henrikegerman
Broadway Legend
joined:4/29/05
Andrews just doesn't strike me as a Mame, and I'm not quite convinced with Lucy as Vera.

Shirley MacLaine as Mame and Lauren Bacall as Vera might have worked and had the name power they were looking for. Or, better yet, MacLaine as Mame and Anne Bancroft or Maggie Smith as Vera!







Updated On: 8/29/14 at 12:32 PM
Gothampc
Broadway Legend
joined:5/20/03
I think Mame needs a bit of "class" which Lansbury always had. I don't think MacLaine had that "class". She was always more kooky.

Lucille Ball always had a comedy problem. She was a physical comedienne. She wasn't good at punchline comedy. Any time you see here with a "joke" she's always trying to find a way to physicalize it. But I think she could have pulled off the withering insults of Vera.
If anyone ever tells you that you put too much Parmesan cheese on your pasta, stop talking to them. You don't need that kind of negativity in your life.
henrikegerman Profile Photo
henrikegerman
Broadway Legend
joined:4/29/05
Mame needs to be both classy and kooky. MacLaine can do both in her sleep. Classy: Terms of Endearment, Madame Sousatska, Mrs. Winterbourne, Coco Chanel, Steel Magnolias, Guarding Tess, In Her Shoes, Being There, The Turning Point

Updated On: 8/29/14 at 12:58 PM
Wilmingtom
Broadway Legend
joined:7/18/11
Patash, point taken (although the movie actially opened in 1974). Still, you're correct in pointing out that the movie wasn't as long after the original production as some of us seem to recall. As for an ideal movie cast, would there have been anything wrong with...oh, I don't know...Angela Lansbury and Bea Arthur?
Patash Profile Photo
Patash
Broadway Legend
joined:5/27/08
That would have been great, but the big issue was that movie audiences would have said "Angela who and Bea who? Now if it were after Murder She Wrote and Golden Girls, it would have been box office magic!
henrikegerman Profile Photo
henrikegerman
Broadway Legend
joined:4/29/05
Bea Arthur was already a tv star when the movie opened (not when it began filming) as Maude premiered in 1972. Of course nothing would have been wrong with Lansbury and Arthur in the movie of Mame. Lansbury though not as huge a name as they wanted had still been a movie star for 30 years. Anyway, it's fun to think who else might have been right for the movie. For instance, Maggie Smith as Mame (Travels with My Aunt btw had been released two years earlier) and Diana Rigg as Vera - or vice versa.


just imagine
Updated On: 8/29/14 at 03:07 PM
Playbilly Profile Photo
Playbilly
Broadway Legend
joined:3/30/12
Interesting comments, but to compare stage acting and film acting, as this guy does, with gestures is silly. If Lucy has been flapping her arms around in a film, it would have been too broad.

Lucy's biggest problem with the film isn't her poor singing (let's be real -- Angela isn't the best singer). It's that the whole film was directed SO BADLY, including her performance.
"Through The Sacrifice You Made, We Can't Believe The Price You Paid..For Love!"
henrikegerman Profile Photo
henrikegerman
Broadway Legend
joined:4/29/05
His point is that while Lansbury made strong, specific and effective choices, Ball did not. HIs point is not that Ball's choices should have been the same as Lansbury's.

Updated On: 8/29/14 at 04:32 PM

1
Page:

 
Advertisement Advertisement