Printer Friendly - Video analysis: Miscast Mame Angela Lansbury vs. Lucille Ball


Video analysis: Miscast Mame Angela Lansbury vs. Lucille Ball
Posted by Will42 2014-08-28 16:54:01


Loved it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tISsu3bsGnw

It also has some rare clips of Dame Angela's stage performance.

Video analysis: Miscast Mame Angela Lansbury vs. Lucille Ball
Posted by Gothampc 2014-08-28 17:30:51


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.

Video analysis: Miscast Mame Angela Lansbury vs. Lucille Ball
Posted by Jay Lerner-Z 2014-08-28 21:00:38


Theadjack (?), but why was the 1983 revival a flop?

Video analysis: Miscast Mame Angela Lansbury vs. Lucille Ball
Posted by Gothampc 2014-08-28 21:20:33


"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.

Video analysis: Miscast Mame Angela Lansbury vs. Lucille Ball
Posted by Jay Lerner-Z 2014-08-28 21:31:47


Ah, interesting, thanks. I knew it couldn't've been down to Angela's performance.

Video analysis: Miscast Mame Angela Lansbury vs. Lucille Ball
Posted by Mr. Nowack 2014-08-28 21:37:42


^^^^^^
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!




Video analysis: Miscast Mame Angela Lansbury vs. Lucille Ball
Posted by Gothampc 2014-08-28 21:45:15


Yes, the Forbidden Broadway spoof was one of their best.

If the show ran past Labor Day

No more revivals!

Video analysis: Miscast Mame Angela Lansbury vs. Lucille Ball
Posted by Gothampc 2014-08-28 21:49:08


"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.

Video analysis: Miscast Mame Angela Lansbury vs. Lucille Ball
Posted by lovebwy 2014-08-28 22:57:16


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.

Video analysis: Miscast Mame Angela Lansbury vs. Lucille Ball
Posted by beaemma 2014-08-28 23:21:27


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.

Video analysis: Miscast Mame Angela Lansbury vs. Lucille Ball
Posted by Wilmingtom 2014-08-29 01:16:20


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.

Video analysis: Miscast Mame Angela Lansbury vs. Lucille Ball
Posted by darreyl102 2014-08-29 02:57:26


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.

Video analysis: Miscast Mame Angela Lansbury vs. Lucille Ball
Posted by Patash 2014-08-29 08:45:22


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.

Video analysis: Miscast Mame Angela Lansbury vs. Lucille Ball
Posted by StageStruckLad 2014-08-29 09:06:58


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.

Video analysis: Miscast Mame Angela Lansbury vs. Lucille Ball
Posted by henrikegerman 2014-08-29 10:24:50


"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.


Video analysis: Miscast Mame Angela Lansbury vs. Lucille Ball
Posted by Gothampc 2014-08-29 10:31:56


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.

Video analysis: Miscast Mame Angela Lansbury vs. Lucille Ball
Posted by beaemma 2014-08-29 10:36:25


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.

Video analysis: Miscast Mame Angela Lansbury vs. Lucille Ball
Posted by darquegk 2014-08-29 12:28:56


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.

Video analysis: Miscast Mame Angela Lansbury vs. Lucille Ball
Posted by henrikegerman 2014-08-29 12:32:59


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!







Video analysis: Miscast Mame Angela Lansbury vs. Lucille Ball
Posted by Gothampc 2014-08-29 12:50:17


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.

Video analysis: Miscast Mame Angela Lansbury vs. Lucille Ball
Posted by henrikegerman 2014-08-29 12:58:49


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

Video analysis: Miscast Mame Angela Lansbury vs. Lucille Ball
Posted by Wilmingtom 2014-08-29 13:30:15


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?

Video analysis: Miscast Mame Angela Lansbury vs. Lucille Ball
Posted by Patash 2014-08-29 14:35:32


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!

Video analysis: Miscast Mame Angela Lansbury vs. Lucille Ball
Posted by henrikegerman 2014-08-29 15:07:57


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.

Video analysis: Miscast Mame Angela Lansbury vs. Lucille Ball
Posted by Playbilly 2014-08-29 16:21:29


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.

Video analysis: Miscast Mame Angela Lansbury vs. Lucille Ball
Posted by henrikegerman 2014-08-29 16:32:12


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.

Video analysis: Miscast Mame Angela Lansbury vs. Lucille Ball
Posted by emo_geek 2014-08-29 17:45:07


So, like, ummmm...how would someone get their hands on this revival tape?

Video analysis: Miscast Mame Angela Lansbury vs. Lucille Ball
Posted by Musical Master 2014-08-29 18:14:01


MAME is such a bad movie that it's become a cult film to some. Ball is indeed miscast but at least Lansbury would've brought a good performance out of a bad film (with a director who I don't believe did a movie before).

At least I think about the really good things Ball did in her career. I remember her as one of the three girls that the Stooges were after in THREE LITTLE PIGSKINS.

Video analysis: Miscast Mame Angela Lansbury vs. Lucille Ball
Posted by Auggie27 2014-08-30 11:14:30


This is enjoyable, but does anyone really think this guy's commentary reveals much? All of his strained discourse about specificity of movement and gesture ignores both choreography and direction, (size of ) stage vs. screen. And the real problem with the Ball "It's Today!" doesn't have bupkus to do with gesticulation. She can't sing it, period. What she does with body placement and focus becomes irrelevant. This is presented as some sort of musical theater/casting thesis, but these two woman have little in common, and the final revelation, that personality doesn't translate into character work is not exactly fresh. Still, nice to see the 83 Lansbury Mame (which I saw, lost in a cave called the Gershwin.)

Video analysis: Miscast Mame Angela Lansbury vs. Lucille Ball
Posted by Brick 2014-08-30 12:48:21


I agree it's great to watch the footage of Lansbury, and even the two side by side, but I found his criticisms to be juvenile and superficial. Lucy does 3 double takes instead of 2 - who cares! I think Lucy has some funny moments, but we all agree she was too old to play the part. (Some think she never could have and I disagree.) And specifically, her voice had gone from years of smoking and had to hide behind yards of camera filters.

Anyhow, picking apart choices is interesting, but if they are looking at interpretation, but merely looking at effect, then they're useless.

Video analysis: Miscast Mame Angela Lansbury vs. Lucille Ball
Posted by NewSynchopation 2014-08-30 13:17:51


I agree with him kind of on this one (though I can never forgive him for hating HELLO, DOLLY!) but I think that in order to find criticism he only watched 2 scenes from both the movie and the musical and found his meager criticisms in those, instead of properly watching both (but can you blame him? The Mame movie is terrible!) and making his criticisms from that.

Video analysis: Miscast Mame Angela Lansbury vs. Lucille Ball
Posted by madlibrarian 2014-08-30 14:33:07


Who is this guy anyway? He posts only as "Musical Theatre Mash". (Note: I've no wish to violate his anonymity if he chooses to maintain it, but remain curious.)

Video analysis: Miscast Mame Angela Lansbury vs. Lucille Ball
Posted by lovebwy 2014-08-30 15:46:12


Yeah, watching this kid's other videos I don't think he's nearly as insightful and clever as he thinks he is. He will look back on these videos one day and cringe.

I used to host a show tunes radio show in Boston when I was in college. I thought every opinion to come out of my mouth was a gem. When I hear the tapes now I'm rather mortified.

Video analysis: Miscast Mame Angela Lansbury vs. Lucille Ball
Posted by Brick 2014-08-30 15:53:53


^Bingo.

I feel like it's any theatre teen queen critiquing the girl who got the lead in the Spring Musical.

Video analysis: Miscast Mame Angela Lansbury vs. Lucille Ball
Posted by Broadway Bob* 2014-08-31 01:56:15


I agree. his ANNIE video is filled with ridiculous things all stemming from the fact that he hates ANNIE. Which he admits right up front. So then WHY make a video about it?!? And then he never really delves in deep to explain why. Just makes pithy little comments along the way that he thinks are funny. They're not. And his HELLO, DOLLY video proves he's kind of an idiot... His first two main points (that Dolly didn't have luggage so couldn't have changed clothes and that Horace didn't hear the singing on the train) are bull-crap as he obviously paid NO attention to the movie or he would have had his answers to these questions. (I left a comment on it to enlighten him.) He could be funny, if he didn't think he was so funny and was desperately trying to prove it like in his INTO THE WOODS Minute Musical. At that point I had to quit watching.

Video analysis: Miscast Mame Angela Lansbury vs. Lucille Ball
Posted by mjohnson2 2014-08-31 03:43:31


Yes, and the fact that he hates that HELLO, DOLLY! has too happy of an ending is utterly ridiculous. HELLO, DOLLY! is the one musical that can actively put me in a deliriously happy mood just from watching it, and it is precisely because everything works out so well.

Video analysis: Miscast Mame Angela Lansbury vs. Lucille Ball
Posted by MusicalMash 2014-08-31 09:00:01


I've never done a video on a musical I didn't like.

Don't worry, I don't think I'm "nearly as insightful and clever as I think I am" either. :)

Video analysis: Miscast Mame Angela Lansbury vs. Lucille Ball
Posted by Musical Master 2014-08-31 09:14:26


^Welcome to the boards.

Video analysis: Miscast Mame Angela Lansbury vs. Lucille Ball
Posted by broadwaybabywannabe2 2014-08-31 11:38:27


brilliantly done i thought...but we all knew that ANGELA was waaaaaay better than LUCY...

Video analysis: Miscast Mame Angela Lansbury vs. Lucille Ball
Posted by madlibrarian 2014-08-31 13:26:21


Well, whoever you are, MM, your video posts are entertaining, reasonably insightful, and funny. And you're cute. Looking forward to more posts.

Video analysis: Miscast Mame Angela Lansbury vs. Lucille Ball
Posted by lovebwy 2014-08-31 13:51:28


OH, *cough cough* well. I'm sorry Mash, I should have considered you might see that. It was impolite of me to put it that way.

I love that you have an appreciation of musicals. You definitely have some great insights that I never would have thought of. And you are funny. And cute in a Bam Margera sort of way. But I think some of your observations show a misunderstanding of the genre. The whole "why are they dancing?" thing is a bit strange to me.

That said, keep doin' 'em. I think you'll get better and better. And, as I said, when I was your age my opinions were broadcast to thousands of Bostonians on Saturday mornings and I'm pretty mortified looking back.

Again, I do apologize.



Video analysis: Miscast Mame Angela Lansbury vs. Lucille Ball
Posted by mjohnson2 2014-08-31 13:56:50


Oh, hello. I didn't mean to personally attack you, but I still think that you should talk a lot more about the musicals that you like instead of the musicals that you don't like. Even posters like After Eight (you might meet him later) talk more about shows like MARY, MARY or DEAR WORLD than Sondheim, so I would recommend that you talk more about shows that you love, while at the same time with your musicals of the week you should mix it up with shows that you don't like as much. I do think you have the technical capabilities and the charisma to work it, but these are just some suggestions.

Video analysis: Miscast Mame Angela Lansbury vs. Lucille Ball
Posted by MusicalMash 2014-09-01 13:32:47


No worries!

I really do mean it when I say I've never done a video on a musical I didn't like (yes, even Annie). I'm very excited to have spurred such lively discussion about a movie made forty years ago. It's always exciting to discover other people who care as much about these things as I do.

Also, I'm of the philosophy that "critique" and "dislike" are two very separate things. Often, the things we like the most, are the things we critique the harshest.

P.S. I am Bam Margera. For the record.

Video analysis: Miscast Mame Angela Lansbury vs. Lucille Ball
Posted by madlibrarian 2014-09-02 18:44:19


Annie was released in 1982, a mere 32 years ago.

Video analysis: Miscast Mame Angela Lansbury vs. Lucille Ball
Posted by Musical Master 2014-09-02 19:12:07


^And the musical version opened in 1977.

Video analysis: Miscast Mame Angela Lansbury vs. Lucille Ball
Posted by Mr. Nowack 2014-09-02 20:01:08


I think he was referring to MAME, the subject of this thread??

Video analysis: Miscast Mame Angela Lansbury vs. Lucille Ball
Posted by madlibrarian 2014-09-02 20:07:31


Aha. That was unclear.

Video analysis: Miscast Mame Angela Lansbury vs. Lucille Ball
Posted by Gothampc 2014-09-02 20:29:23


"Aha. That was unclear."

It was so clear even Helen Keller understood it.

Video analysis: Miscast Mame Angela Lansbury vs. Lucille Ball
Posted by Musical Master 2014-09-02 20:31:35


^LOL

Video analysis: Miscast Mame Angela Lansbury vs. Lucille Ball
Posted by madlibrarian 2014-09-02 22:22:17


Helen Keller never had to put up with the snark on this board!