Saturday, February 21, 2009

Tonight's Movie: She Loves Me (1978)

SHE LOVES ME has long been one of my very favorite musicals, and the first time I ever saw it was a 1978 British TV production which aired in the U.S. on public television. The production starred Robin Ellis (then a major TV star playing the title role in POLDARK) and Gemma Craven (Cinderella in THE SLIPPER AND THE ROSE).

I've been fortunate to see the show on stage in the intervening years -- a marvelous production starring Joel Higgins (SILVER SPOONS) and Pam Dawber (MORK AND MINDY), who were both accomplished musical theater actors -- but I've been hoping for all these years to see the TV production again. Thanks to the kindness of a fellow SHE LOVES ME fan, I finally had the opportunity to watch it again, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

SHE LOVES ME is the classic SHOP AROUND THE CORNER/IN THE GOOD OLD SUMMERTIME/YOU'VE GOT MAIL plot about two squabbling coworkers who are unknowingly carrying on a romantic correspondence. It has a wonderful Bock-Harnick score which includes "Dear Friend," "Ice Cream," and the title song.

The videotaped British production is presented almost as though one were seeing a stage production from a close angle. The sets look very much like what one would see if watching it on the stage, and as in a real theatrical production, chorus members appear in different roles throughout the musical.

Ellis and Craven are excellent in the lead roles. I remember what a delight it was to discover that "Ross Poldark" could sing! The excellent supporting cast members include Diane Langton as Ilona, Peter Sallis (WALLIS AND GROMIT) as Sipos, and David Kernan as the oily Kodaly, a role originated on Broadway by Jack Cassidy. Kernan was nominated for a Tony Award for SIDE BY SIDE BY SONDHEIM the year prior to filming SHE LOVES ME.

My one criticism is the BBC's sound engineering, which tends to make the singers sound as though they're shouting at times; a bit more nuance and variation would have been nice. However, I suspect that technically this was probably as good as it gets for the BBC in the '70s.

The show runs 105 minutes and was directed by Michael Simpson.

For those who have missed becoming acquainted with this wonderful musical, I highly recommend the original Broadway cast CD starring Barbara Cook and Daniel Massey. CDs are also available of the 1993 and 1994 Broadway and London revivals.

SHE LOVES ME is not out on DVD, but hopefully it will be one day... In the meantime, if you're willing to watch a rather blurred print with good sound, it can be seen in 11 sections on YouTube, with Part 1 available here.

2 Comments:

Blogger NB said...

Nice review. I also look forward to the DVD release of this production. Gemma Craven was wonderful in the Bob Hoskins BBC production of "Pennies from Heaven." This series was produced in 1978 as well

5:37 PM  
Blogger New York Woman said...

I remember Rita Moreno as Ilona in this wonderful version of She Loves Me

11:27 AM  

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