The Warner Archive November 27, 2018 Blu-ray release of the 1974 musical-comedy "Mame" allows fans to judge this one for themselves. This film is based on the stage-version of the 1958 Rosalind Russell comedy "Auntie Mame," which based on a story by and about Patrick Dennis.
One sadly undisputed aspect of this film is that having Lucille Ball having a very raspy and deep voice at this point in her career should have precluded having her playing any role that requires singing. The same is true regarding Bea Arthur, who reprises her role as best frienemy stage actress Vera Charles from the 1966 Broadway production. (Yes, I know that God will get me for that.)
"Mame" begins at the end of the Jazz Age; the titular society girl is living it up and thinks that the party will never end until she receives an almost-literal wake-up call during The Crash of '29. This sets the stage (pun intended) for Vera to delver one of the best lines in the play by stating that she is glad that she never set aside any money.
The rest of the story is that The Crash also comes soon after prim-and-proper orphaned nephew Patrick and his frumpy nanny Agnes Gooch (Jane Connell) come to live with his auntie. The foresight of his late father allows Patrick to attend a respectable boarding school and largely avoid the bad influence of his only living relative.
Meanwhile, Lucy puts her brand of comedy to good use as Mame is required to cut back and to attempt several jobs to keep the roof of her luxurious townhouse over her head. This quest for full employment brings her in contact with future husband/savior Beauregard Jackson Pickett Burnside, "Music Man" Robert Preston, who is best-known to modern audiences for his role in "Victor/Victoria," excels in every aspect of his performance as Beauregard. He gets the bonus of performing "Loving You," which is written for the film.
Lucy again shines on her trip to the Burnside plantation to meet the mother (Lucille Benson) of Beauregard. Hilarity ensues when a woman scorned and general southern hostility toward damn Yankees combine to set up Mame for a fall. However, that New Yorker wins over the crowd by showing that she is more than a one-trick pony. This leads to the chorus singing the title song that lauds the titular free spirit.
A notable segment that follows is a montage that shows Patrick first growing from a cute and studious lad to a dreamy horndog high school boy and then a skirt-chasing college man. A very cute Bruce Davison of 258 IMDb credits plays that version of Patrick.
This maturity sets the stage for the final conflict. Patrick is engaged to textbook WASP woman Gloria Upson from Connecticut. This Junior League stereotype and her family are ultra-conservative to the extent of only barely concealing their prejudices. Of course, this does not sit well with bon vivant Mame,
Stereotype Lucy once again appears in a scheme near the end of the film. She hilariously exposes the nature of the Upsons both for personal satisfaction and to provide Patrick a wake-up call.
Of course, Mame and Patrick get a Broadway/Hollywood ending.
The special features include the theatrical trailer and an eight-minute promo. that celebrates Lucy starring in the film.
The epilogue is that a mediocre film starring Lucy and featuring Bea Arthur is better than the best film that is a showcase for virtually any current Hollywood royalty.
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