We binge on holiday movies every December.
(As I type this Jamie is in the other room watching White Christmas for the umpteenth time)
I know that Auntie Mame may not be as Christmasy a movie as, say, Die Hard, or Trading Places or even Gremlins, but it’s one of my all time favorites for the holidays. The Christmas scenes are sure to one tug at anyone’s heart.
Rosalind Russell is absolutely radiant as Auntie Mame, Peggy Cass simply steals every scene as Agnes Gooch (even just waddling by in the background), and the apartment……THE APARTMENT!!!! It’s a set designer’s dream job.
Here’s a little trivia. (Because I love this kind of stuff and you should too.)
Based on the novel of the same name, by Patrick Dennis, Mame was first introduced to the big screen as written by Jerome Roberts and Robert Edmund Lee.
Patrick, his real name was Edward Everett Tanner III, based the book on his actual Aunt, his father’s sister, Marrion Tanner. Although she never raised Patrick like Mame does in his story, Marrion lived to be almost 100 years old.
Dennis’ work fell out of fashion in the 1970s, and all of his books went out of print. In his later years, he left writing to become a butler, and even worked for Ray Kroc, the CEO of McDonald’s. Although he was at long last using his real name, he was in essence working yet again under a pseudonym; his employers had no idea that their butler, Tanner, was a world-famous author.
Although it was nominated for Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Art Direction, Film Editing, and Cinematography…….it won none.
Rosalind Russell and Peggy Cass had both been nominated for Tony’s for the stage version and reprised their roles for the film. Although it was Cass who won a Tony – for Best Featured Actress in a Drama.
It was the highest grossing film of 1958. The film’s success gave Warner Bros. a healthy boost to its bottom line and helped put Rosalind Russell back on top at the box office.
Mega star Gloria Swanson tried to buy the film rights as a starring vehicle for herself, but Rosalind Russell had bought the film rights for herself….. before the play even opened on Broadway.
The movie’s line “Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death!” was voted as the #93 movie quote by the American Film Institute (out of 100), even though this line was censored for the film, changing “sons-of-bitches” to “suckers”.
Director Morton DaCosta maintained a theatrical feel to the film’s visual style throughout, including his choice to use the artistic touch of blacking out the set and fading out on Mame’s face, or ass, at the end of each scene.
Coral Browne had her dark brown hair bleached a platinum blond, as to contrast Russell’s brown locks, and it fell out overnight. Costume designer Orry-Kelly improvised a turban, and that’s how the audience gets their introduction to Mama’s dearest frenemy, Vera Charles…….in a Norma Desmond inspired turban.
The name of Mame’s husband, Beauregard Jackson Pickett Burnside, is made up of the names of three Confederate generals (Pierre Gustave Toutant-Beauregard, Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson and George Edward Pickett) and one Union general (Ambrose Everett Burnside).
Mame’s line in French at Macy’s is “Après moi, le déluge” (“After me, the flood”). This quote is attributed to King Louis XV of France and represents a philosophy of living for now when disaster looms in the future. In the movie, it relates to purchasing Christmas gifts on credit so that one doesn’t have to worry about paying for them right away, something that a rich New York socialite would be very comfortable with.
The film spawned a successful Broadway musical “Mame” in 1966, starring Angela Lansbury, with music by Jerry Herman. Russell had been asked to reprise her role, but she declined, saying, “It’s not for me anymore. I’ve done it, I have to move along.”
If you haven’t seen this gem of a movie yet….let this be my Christmas gift to you.
This is one of my all time favorite movies and I’ve made sure to introduce my kids to it. When I found out I was having a boy (my 2nd child), I wanted to name him Patrick so I could say “Patrick, my little love” to him. My oldest child and husband vetoed that and we named him Brandon. Thanks for writing this excellent review and interesting facts about this amazing movie and the author of this book. Merry Christmas James!
OH My God Stacey! That is so awesome!!! Patrick would have been a great name. How many kids do you have now???? And MErry Christmas back at ya!!!!
I remember watching this for the first time as a kid and thinking how awesome it would be to have an Auntie Mame. I need to get my young sons to watch this now.
I have always said that I would like to be your neighbor and this confirms it.
Awww thanks Kellie!!! And yes, please pass it on to another generation.
I adore this movie! Like Kellie said , I would love to be your neighbour , and we could all watch this together! Wishing you the merriest Christmas, and a wonderful new year! Take care! 😊💕🎄⛄️❄️🎅🏻🐾
Merry Christmas back at ya Kim!!!!
Annnnnd I first showed it to YOU. Ahhhh… my little Sean … I knew I.D open doors you never even knew existed ….
Yes, yes, yes…the doors you’ve opened for me. my, my my.
I remember the first time I met her. She was standing in front of a door, waiting for someone to open it for her … she was in no hurry .
And I would bring the popcorn, if we were all neighbors! Yes it is a great movie and it has been awhile since I watched it.
Come on over, We own the DVD!!!!
Thank you. I haven’t seen it in years. I will put it on my list. Such a grown up movie!
One of my ultimate faves….The Texas Theater (the one where the captured Oswald) shows it every year at this time. It sparkles even more on the big screen.
I appreciate the fascinating back stories on this movie. Have yet to have seen it (ever!) but it sounds like one that I should hunt down on TCM at the next showing! Will be watching for it!
OOOHHH Debbie, that’s why I wrote about it….so people like you can discover it for the first time. Watch it as soon as you can…..it won’t disappoint!!!
I watched the trailer that you posted and… yes! YES! I would love this movie! The first time that it shows up in the TCM schedule is on 28 Feb at 12:30 PM. I don’t think I can wait that long!
OOOh no, don’t wait that long…..you need to see it before Christmas!
My very favorite!!$
My favorite movie!!! Xxxxooo
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I knew that you would love it Mary Jo!!!! We have the same taste!!!
Just ordered a copy and had it shipped directly to my parents – so I can force the whole family to watch it on Christmas! Thanks. I know they will be amenable since they took me to a local production of Auntie Mame back in 1979 or so!
What a lovely reminder of such a great movie. That we could all have an Auntie Mame! This brought back a huge deja vu……the first Broadway show I saw was Mame, with Angela Landsbury. I wasn’t supposed to go but my father got stuck out of town so I went in his place with my mom. A really special first experience. Thank you for the memory.
How awesome is that???? I’m kinda jealous now. My first official production was “A Chorus Line”. I think my dad took me to get closer to his gay-ish son. I LOVED it!!! Still do. He fell asleep….
What a lovely memory, and a great connection to a wonderful musical, And about the falling asleep…being in the realm of having barely seen the end of a movie in several years I would suggest he wasn’t bored. Trust me.
I loved the book, and the other on I read as well “The Joyous Season”! I didn’t know it was a movie with Rosalind Russell,I have only seen the one with Lucille Ball. I’ll have to find this one now! Thanks!
Trust me, the Rosalind Russell version is way better….and have your read “Around the World with Auntie Mame”? https://www.amazon.com/Around-World-Auntie-Patrick-Dennis/dp/0767915852/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1531672324&sr=8-1&keywords=around+the+world+with+auntie+mame It’s pretty spectacular as well.