Sunday, February 12, 2017

Tonight's Movie: Bells Are Ringing (1960) - A Warner Archive Blu-ray Review

Judy Holliday and Dean Martin star in Vincente Minnelli's BELLS ARE RINGING (1960), now available on Blu-ray from the Warner Archive.

I have very fond memories of seeing BELLS ARE RINGING on a big screen at L.A.'s Tiffany Theater, a favorite revival house of the late '70s and early '80s.

I've seen it a time or two in the years since, thanks to DVD or TCM, but it had been quite a long time since my last viewing, so it was a pleasure to return to it thanks to the Warner Archive's beautiful new Blu-ray.

BELLS ARE RINGING is most enjoyable, with Judy Holliday starring as Ella Peterson, a warm and caring telephone answering service employee who ends up involved in her customers' lives.

First and foremost among her "Susanswerphone" clients is Jeffrey Moss (Martin), a playwright Ella encourages over the phone -- though he thinks she's an older woman he calls "Mom." Is there hope for a real-life romantic relationship once he finds out who she really is? One guess.

BELLS ARE RINGING is a tuneful delight. Holliday and Martin are seen at their most appealing, while the score by Betty Comden, Adolph Green, and Jule Styne is filled with lovely music, including the title song plus "It's a Perfect Relationship," "Better Than a Dream," "The Party's Over," and my favorite, "Just in Time." I guarantee you'll find yourself humming the lines "Plaza O-Double 4-Double 3" for a while after seeing it.

The music and happy romance in the final scene combine to give me misty eyes. Lovely.

From the perspective of 2017, the movie is also wonderfully nostalgic -- all those colorful telephones in the opening sequence! And the entire concept of needing an answering service, something now gone with the wind, excepting perhaps for doctors' offices. Younger viewers watching it will receive a bit of a history lesson along with the fun.

My only complaint is that at 126 minutes it's a bit on the long side, and I think some of the sequences with other Susanswerphone clients could perhaps have been trimmed.

The movie costars Jean Stapleton, Eddie Foy Jr., Ruth Storey, Fred Clark, Frank Gorshin, and Gerry Mulligan, and more familiar faces popping up throughout the movie, like George E. Stone, Herb Vigran, and even Elizabeth Montgomery! Montgomery is briefly visible reading a book in a scene with Holliday and Gorshin.

BELLS ARE RINGING was filmed by Milton Krasner.

The Warner Archive Blu-ray includes extras which previously appeared on the DVD, including a featurette, two musical outtakes and an alternate take, plus the trailer. There's also a song selection menu which is a terrific feature; all musical releases should have this!


May 2017 Update: BELLS ARE RINGING has now also been reissued by the Warner Archive on DVD.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray. Warner Archive Blu-rays may be ordered from the WBShop.


Blogger mel said...

According to the website, Bells Are Ringing was due for a general release on January 31, 2017.

I don't know, however, whether it has happened yet.

10:47 PM  

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