Bells Are Ringing
Based on the successful 1956 Broadway production of the same name by Betty Comden, Adolph Green, and Jule Styne, the film focuses on Ella Peterson, who works in the basement office of Susanswerphone, a telephone answering service. Peterson, based on Mary Printz, who worked at Green's service, listens in on others' lives and adds some interest to her own humdrum existence by adopting different identities for her clients. They include an out-of-work Method actor, a dentist with musical yearnings, and in particular playwright Jeffrey Moss, who is suffering from writer's block and desperately needs a muse.
I love this zany, comely musical. Though I am rarely a big fan of Judy Holliday, here she shines as a telephone answering service employee who meddles in the lives of those she is charged with calling. It's all innocent fun with several blockbuster numbers (Just in Time, The Party's Over, and the title song). Plus some novelty pieces from Eddie Foy, Jr., Frank Gorshin, and Judy. Feel-good film set in NYC, made by MGM toward the end of it's reign as the most fabulous studio in history, and directed by Vincente Minnelli. I watch it once a year. First time I saw it was on a sneak preview ticket at the old Loew's State Theatre on main St. in downtown Memphis. So it's a memory-connected film as well.
Bells Are Ringing represents the end of an era. This was the last film for MGM's musical producer Arthur Freed (the guy behind Singin' in the Rain, The Band Wagon and The Wizard of Oz), director Vincente Minnelli (responsible for masterpieces like Meet Me in St Louis) and star Judy Holliday - the greatest female comic of the Golden Age by a country mile. An adaptation of a Broadway show that ran for three years, it was her only colour movie (save the last scene of The Solid Gold Cadillac, more of which below) and her only musical. In a role written especially for her by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, Holliday plays an operator at answering service Susanswerphone who…