Merman, O'Connor, Ellen, and Sanders stun in... Call Me Madam (1953)

Call Me Madam is a film I can't believe isn't more well-known. Let me list some of its features: Ethel Merman, Donald O'Connor, Vera-Ellen, gorgeous costumes, beautiful dancing, Irving Berlin tunes, and oh yeah, George Sanders singing and making me fall madly in love with him. Aren't you mad this film didn't come into your life sooner? Having watched and enjoyed There's No Business Like Show Business, my curiosity was tweaked when I heard about Call Me Madam. Released the year before Show Business, it had two of the later film's stars, Merman and O'Connor, and it boasted an Irving Berlin score too. The day I found it at the library left me all sorts of giddy, but I was even more thrilled when I actually watched it. You guys, Call Me Madam is fantastic. Like, why-aren't-we-shouting-about-it-from-rooftops? fantastic. I'm sensing trepidation, but read on and you'll understand.

First of all, the film starts with a fun title sequence that has a bunch of adorable artwork to accompany the cast and crew's names:

We open on wealthy Washington, D.C. hostess Sally Adams (Merman) being sworn into office as the ambassador for the tiny country of Lichtenburg. Sally is thrilled to be given such a honor, however she does let it slip that she has no idea where this Lichtenburg place is. While talking to a group of reporters and photographers, Sally meets journalist Ken Gibson (O'Connor, looking adorable and stylish in red glasses). Ken asks her some complicated question about Lichtenburg that goes completely over Sally's head, but she can answer his question about how she got the ambassador position.

"The Hostess with the Mostest" is our real introduction to Sally, as she explains in song that her money came from her father finding oil on their Oklahoma farm and over time she became the grand dame of Washington, entertaining and charming politicians and the like, contributing money to campaigns, and so on. In other words, she can be a pretty powerful lady.

That night, she hosts one of her huge parties to celebrate her appointment. Ken is there and Sally invites him to dance, giving him the opportunity to basically hire himself as her press attaché, or press secretary -- after all, he knows a lot about European politics and could be a big help to her. Sally politely turns him down, but he quickly proves his worth when she is asked to film a newsreel detailing what she intends to do in Lichtenburg in addition to giving a few facts about the country. Not having a clue what to say, Sally plays along when Ken gives her a speech he had prepared on notecards and just like that, the kid is hired.

We move from Washington to Lichtenburg, a beautiful, old-fashioned country that a chorus tells us is "too small to be a city, too big to be a town." At the U.S. Embassy, Ken is generating as much good publicity as he can before Sally arrives, which we're informed by Pemberton Maxwell (Billy De Wolfe) was supposed to be seven hours ago. Maxwell is the embassy's chargé d'affaires and he is quite the stuffy snob, a man who dislikes Sally before he even meets her. He doesn't seem to appreciate that the new ambassador is a woman, telling Ken "I fully intend to go on running the embassy while she remains quietly in the background." "Like to make a little bet?" Ken quips.

At the palace, the Grand Duke is having a fit, but not because Sally is late. His niece, Princess Maria (Vera-Ellen), is betrothed to Mitteldorf's Prince Hugo, a man we can already tell we won't like. The marriage is supposed to help both countries, however the Mitteldorf officials are concerned that Lichtenburg does not have enough money for Maria's dowry. Prime Minister Sebastian (Stevan Geray) and the minister of finance, August Tantinnin (Walter Slezak), are confident that Sally's inexperience will let them get their hands on a large American loan. God, these people really don't understand that Ethel freaking Merman is
coming to town, not some meek little mouse. That should be made obvious when the meeting is interrupted by the sounds of band music and cheers. Sally Adams has arrived, and she's doing it in style!

Ken shows her to her office, where she gets to meet a very passive aggressive Maxwell. Within a minute, he insults her background and her intelligence, but she pushes back.
When Tantinnin and Sebastian come in and ask for their loan, Sally turns them down flat, having been advised by the U.S. government that this would happen. Once they leave, Maxwell still isn't done being a bully, leading Sally to order him to call her "madam," and when he does, he better smile. She's kind of the best.

They're still butting heads when the foreign minister, Gen. Cosmo Constantine (Sanders), arrives. Sally is instantly smitten and it's not hard to see why. I'm used to the villainous sleazeballs that Sanders excelled at, but here he is a complete doll -- charming, sweet, warm, like a big teddy bear personified. All it takes is one kiss on the hand for Sally to offer him any money he needs from the U.S. She's so enthusiastic, she bursts into "Can You Use Any Money Today?" Cosmo rejects the offer, though, believing that Lichtenburg doesn't need outside help to get back on its feet financially.

Sally is amazed, and then charmed when Cosmo indulges the location of a secret passageway in her office that leads to the palace's wine cellar (the embassy had originally been built ages ago for the then-Grand Duke's mistress). We get a lot of information in this scene: Cosmo isn't married; Sally and her staff are being presented to the court tonight; she and Cosmo have a dinner date in a few nights; and Cosmo is adamant that although it is customary in his family and in his country to marry for money, he would much rather marry for love, giving us "Marrying for Love."

George Sanders's voice is so splendid, it makes me smile just thinking about it. It certainly makes Sally dreamy-eyed. When Cosmo leaves, the only thing she can say is "Wow."

Ken will soon have his own "wow" moment. Shopping for a top hat for the introduction to the court, he wanders over to the store's music department when he hears the strains of "It's a Lovely Day Today." A gorgeous woman in peach approaches him, thinking he is a sales clerk, and asks if the song is American. Ken replies that it's "a hit from a show that ran a couple of years on Broadway," probably referring to Call Me Madam's origins as a Broadway musical. The woman he is speaking to, of course, is Princess Maria. She asks to hear the words to the song and Ken happily obliges. When a bodyguard interrupts them, Ken realizes who he is singing to and introduces himself. They flirt some more, which includes Maria singing the chorus back at him, but she remembers an appointment and has to go, leaving Ken in bright spirits. It's a lovely day, indeed!

That night, high society steps out to see Sally at the palace. Decked out in white and silver, Sally looks incredible, but she's not too crazy about the long train she has to wear as part of the formalities. She kicks it around and tries to remember the procedure she has to go through when she meets the Grand Duke. When Cosmo enters the room, though, she hilariously hikes the train up around her legs so she can walk without a problem and then throws it back behind her like she is hiking a football. Maxwell is at a total loss, naturellement. When it comes time for Sally to make her big entrance and introduce herself to the Grand Duke and Duchess,
everything goes swimmingly... until she falls right on her backside in front of the royalty. And she rips the train a little because stupid Maxwell stands on it. Sally takes it all in stride, however, and the ball is able to begin. Of course, it wouldn't be a ball without some Ethel Merman beltin'. Wanting to show Lichtenburg how Washington does it, Sally gets up on stage with the band and sings "International Rag," a 1913 tune that happens to be the most up-to-date song the band knows.

Now that he has been properly introduced to the princess, Ken asks Maria to dance and they wind up outside. Moonlight, castle ruins, and a wonderful fountain make for an appropriately romantic atmosphere, Ken enticing Maria to dance with him. What's delightful here is that while inside the ballroom everyone is dancing to "International Rag," outside the music for the princess and Ken segues into "It's a Lovely Day Today," signaling that the twosome are able to connect because they both hear it and they allow it to overwhelm what is happening in reality.

This kind of fascinating stuff is why I love musicals so much -- there can be layer upon layer of interpretation, it is not just people randomly bursting into song and dance. It all has some kind of meaning and some relationship to the characters. For Vera-Ellen and Donald O'Connor, it's about establishing the feelings between Maria and Ken, people who feel so deeply about those feelings that they have to express them musically.

This dance is sublime and sweet, with some impressive skirt work from Ellen. You can watch it here. The dance ends in a kiss, but Maria feels slightly ashamed and says they better get back to the party. It seems like trouble is brewing when Prince Hugo observes the couple returning; Ken, after all, is a threat to Hugo's country getting Maria's dowry.

Back on the dance floor, Cosmo excuses himself from Sally for a moment, allowing Maxwell to sidle up to her and praise Cosmo for doing such an excellent job at buttering up Sally. What? Could Cosmo really just be pretending to like Sally to get that loan? We know it's simply Maxwell being a weasel, but Sally begins to have her doubts. Feeling lousy about Maria's brush-off, Ken asks to leave and Sally goes with him, feeling pretty lousy herself.

At her apartment, Ken tries to write a cablegram for the president from Sally, but he can't get his mind off of Maria. Sally picks up on his misery and they sing "You're Just in Love," my absolute favorite number from this movie. It is so incredible -- Sally's part is all bright and upbeat, while Ken's is more poignant and forlorn, both of their parts overlapping into a kind of dueling duet. Merman had Irving Berlin write this song for the stage show, and it became the musical's showstopper. The camaraderie between Sally and Ken is one of the best parts of Call Me Madam. They become like family to one another and it is so heartwarming to watch. Also, I gotta admit that Donald O'Connor's look here is super adorable. I've always loved O'Connor, but this film makes him absolutely swoon-worthy.

A couple days pass and Lichtenburg is celebrating its annual fair. It's like a giant carnival, which opens with the princess doing a dance called "The Ocarina" with some of the townspeople in traditional garb.

Vera-Ellen often seems to be overlooked in favor of Cyd Charisse, but my God, the woman was magnificent. She could do acrobatics like nobody's business, making her a fantastic athlete, and she was the master at skirt choreography. I know, I sound obsessed with those skirts, but there's something so visually appealing about the movement of a skirt during a dance. To me, it looks like the
extension of the dancer and makes the dance more enjoyable. Or maybe I'm just a weirdo and a skirt is just a skirt.

Sebastian and Tantinnin hope to ambush Sally at the fair, but Tantinnin's creepy attempts at flirting get shut down right quick. She bumps into Cosmo, and although she's on high alert about his "scheming," she still can't help spending the day with him.

Elsewhere, Ken finds Maria and tries talking to her, but she believes it isn't right for them to continue whatever it is that they have. Plus, even if she wanted to break her engagement
with Hugo, it isn't up to her, but rather the Grand Duke.

Hugo chooses this moment to arrive, and he has to make it worse by threatening Ken and demanding he leave Lichtenburg. When Maria agrees that his attentions towards her are "far from discreet" and sides with Hugo, Ken is hurt.

What better way to commiserate than by getting ridiculously drunk at a beer garden, staying there past midnight much to the waiter's annoyance? Wondering "What Chance Have I with Love?" Ken wrecks the place, breaking a chair to play the xylophone and then falling on said xylophone, throwing glasses once he has emptied them, and crashing into a pyramid of dishes. He's a mess, but a very well-choreographed mess. O'Connor is brilliant here, adding sly touches to embellish the lyrics while also excelling at pretending to be smashed. "What Chance..." was added to the film to showcase O'Connor, and boy does it. Probably the most famous part of this routine is when he pulls down a bunch of balloons and then proceeds to pop them as he dances.

The next morning, Ken isn't feeling so great. Sally calls him into her office, having received a written report from Maxwell about his exploits last night. Hiccuping and wearing shades in his fashionable glasses, Ken is embarrassed and ready to go back to the States. Sally gives him a break, though, and throws the report away. Staying true to character, Maxwell isn't pleased and chides Sally. Her response? "Slither back to your desk and write 'I won't be a tattletale' 500 times." Once he leaves, Sally receives a call from the princess, asking her to do something we don't hear. After hanging up, Sally calls Ken in and asks him to go through the secret passageway to pick up a confidential message from
the palace.

In the cobweb-infested cellar, Ken discovers that Maria set up this meeting to warn him that Hugo has been making threats, but she admits that she also really wanted to see him. She doesn't plan on marrying Hugo anymore; since there is no money for the dowry and it doesn't look like there will be thanks to Sally, the likelihood of the marriage happening is slim. Excited that they can be together, Maria and Ken have "Something to Dance About." This number is a fun, quick-paced affair that never fails to make me happy. You can't go wrong with illicit wine cellar dancin'.

It's the night of Sally and Cosmo's dinner date. Looking dazzling in shimmering red, Sally asks Maxwell to stay in the room with them, no matter what she says -- if Cosmo wants to seduce her, he's going to have a difficult time doing it with Maxwell standing there. When Cosmo arrives, Maxwell gives them a minute to say hello alone, cuing Sally to give the foreign minister her practiced speech about being upfront with each other instead of playing games. "I know what's on your mind," she says. "Why not be straightforward and direct about it?" "Okay," Cosmo replies, planting a big kiss on her.

Sally melts and although she still isn't sure that Cosmo is being honest, she asks Maxwell to leave them alone. He thinks she is just sticking to the plan, forcing her to amusingly kick him out. As she and Cosmo talk about doing the best thing for their respective countries, they slip into the song "The Best Thing for You Would Be Me," a charming ballad that demonstrates the softer side of Merman's booming voice.
Another passionate kiss seals the deal for Sally. Later that night, she puts in a call to President Truman, a close friend and someone she calls periodically in the film, although we never see him/an actor playing him. Sally asks Harry, as she calls him, if the U.S. can spare $100 million -- she is recommending the loan, despite Cosmo saying Lichtenburg doesn't need it.

Soon, three senators come to Lichtenburg to investigate the loan and make sure Sally's judgment is sound. There's a funny moment when Maxwell welcomes the senators and makes a crack about Sally, leading the men to almost punch him out -- they adore Sally so it's best not to bash her in front of them. Seeing the senators arrive, Sebastian and Tantinnin come crawling in the room, all ready to schmooze them. Surprised to hear that Cosmo is the one the senators will be discussing the loan with, they scurry away to do some investigating of their own.

That evening, Sally hosts a big party. She has her fingers crossed that this loan will go through, however Ken is disappointed. Cosmo, meanwhile, is shocked to learn that he has just been made prime minister; Sebastian and Tantinnin told the rest of the cabinet members that the U.S. would solely deal with Cosmo, so they overthrew Sebastian and elected Cosmo his successor. Cosmo is further surprised when the senators try talking to him about the loan. He emphatically refuses the aid, which only impresses the investigatory committee more, leading them to offer him $200 million.

Cosmo rejects that too, and quickly resigns as prime minister. Sally tries to explain to him that she just wanted to help, but he can't understand it and accuses her of ruining everything he had been working towards in his career. Ouch.

Worried about the loan, Ken has Maria meet him in the wine cellar. He thinks it is still going through, but he argues that Maria doesn't have to stay true to her marriage contract -- it's 1953, after all!

Maria feels bound to her duty to inherit the throne, to which Ken responds insultingly "You're beautiful, you're charming, and I adore you, but do you honestly think you have any special talent for ruling a country?" I love you, Ken, but that was truly idiotic. Maria takes offense as well and thankfully Ken apologizes and admits he didn't mean it. They're both having a difficult time accepting that they can't be together. With tears falling down her face, Maria hugs Ken one more time and hurriedly walks away before she changes her mind.

In her chambers, Sally isn't feeling too hot, either. Ken joins her for a pity party, and they sing a reprise of "You're Just in Love," except this time the parts are reversed. It feels much more somber this time, however, since both of them have lost someone. To make matters worse, Sally gets a call from President Truman. Sebastian has found out about Sally helping Maria and Ken secretly meet and claims that because of that, she has been interfering in state affairs that don't concern her. She can't be the ambassador anymore and she must leave on the first boat. You can watch the reprise of "You're Just in Love" here, starting at 3:02.

Back in Washington, D.C., Sally is hosting another party when Ken arrives to tell her that he just heard from the State Department that Cosmo was appointed the Lichtenburg ambassador for the U.S. She is thrilled, but Ken says there's more... he was seen coming on the boat with a woman, who he is bringing with him to Sally's party. Just then, Cosmo arrives and it seems like he has forgiven Sally considering he is all smiles. Before they can say much, the butler announces the arrival of "the honorable Ms. Hammenschlaffen" -- it's Maria! That's the woman who was traveling with Cosmo! While Cosmo awards Sally with a medal from Lichtenburg (she is now Dame Sally Adams to you!), Maria goes on the terrace to find Ken. She has renounced the throne, hence her using her family name of Hammenschlaffen, and they can finally be married. For our grand finale, we get "You're Just in Love" courtesy of Cosmo and Sally, and then everybody joins in for a reprise of "Something to Dance About."

Call Me Madam was originally a hit on Broadway in 1950. The character of Sally Adams was based on Perle Mesta, a Washington hostess and Democratic Party fundraiser who was appointed as ambassador to Luxembourg in 1949. Howard Lindsay, a theater virtuoso and partner to Russell Crouse, saw his friend Ethel Merman reading a magazine one day that had an article about Mesta and he became inspired to bring the two women together in a musical. Funnily enough, Merman had to ask "Who's Perle Mesta?" (The two would later become good friends.) The actress was more interested in finding something dramatic, but when Irving Berlin signed on to write the score, she conceded to a few songs... and then she realized she was going to have to give in completely, especially since both she and Berlin were hoping to repeat the massive success of their collaboration on Annie Get Your Gun.

The pedigree of the musical is astounding, with George Abbott directing, Jerome Robbins choreographing, and Harold Prince finding the cast (he wasn't yet the legend that he is now). Paul Lukas played Cosmo and Elaine Stritch was Merman's understudy. At the Tony Awards, it won for Best Leading Actress in a Musical for Merman, Best Featured Actor in a Musical for Russel Nype, and Best Original Score. The role of Sally brought more accolades to Merman when she starred in the 1953 film, ultimately winning her a Golden Globe. Surprisingly, Berlin had to convince 20th Century Fox studio head Darryl Zanuck to hire Merman for the movie. Hollywood had never really suited the actress before, who found much more success on the stage. Zanuck had to agree, though, that no one else could play Sally Adams and the studio greeted her with open arms -- and Betty Grable's plush dressing room for the duration of the shoot!

Call Me Madam received well-deserved Academy Award nominations in two categories, Best Costume Design (Color) and Best Musical Score. Irene Sharaff's costumes are jaw-droppingly gorgeous, yet for some reason she lost to the giant Biblical epic The Robe with costumes by Charles LeMaire and Emile Santiago. Sharaff had some stiff competition, though: Charles LeMaire and William Travilla (How to Marry a Millionaire), Mary Ann Nyberg (The Band Wagon), and Walter Plunkett (Young Bess). Regarding Best Musical Score, Alfred Newman did win for Call Me Madam, besting Adolph Deutsch (The Band Wagon), Ray Heindorf (Calamity Jane), Frederick Hollander
and Morris Stoloff (The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T), and Andre Previn and Saul Chaplin (Kiss Me, Kate).

But let's get back to the costumes for a minute, because they are really spectacular here. Merman's wardrobe in particular is so lovely, with just the right amount of flash and elegance. Nothing is too over-the-top, which is good because Merman's own personality could sometimes be over-the-top, so well-balanced costumes keep her from not being too in-your-face.
Another thing I really enjoy about Irene's costuming is that she connects the characters of Sally and Cosmo through their clothes. For example, in their first meeting, they're both wearing navy blue. When they have their dinner date, Sally has a silver pin on the back of her dress, one that looks very similar to the silver medallion Cosmo often has pinned to his jacket. She is wearing another pin like his in that last scene when they are reunited.

Irene didn't slouch when it came to Vera-Ellen's costumes, either. I love the jeweled netting that is always in her hair, and as is often the case for Ellen, high necks are popular. Many sources like to claim that because of Ellen's anorexia, she was forced to wear clothing with high collars, but The Blonde at the Film's article on White Christmas suggests otherwise: "Rumors have flown about this for years, namely that after suffering from anorexia for most of her career, Ellen’s neck was scarily thin and prematurely aged, so Edith Head covered it up. The anorexia part is true, sadly, but the neck stuff seems to be false. Footage of Ellen from the September 1954 premiere of A Star is Born show her
in a spaghetti strap gown, and her neck looks fine. That was after this movie was filmed. It seems more likely that it was just a 'trademark' choice made by Head and Ellen for this film. Ellen does seem to have liked chokers and high-necked clothing, and she wore such styles frequently, though not exclusively. Or perhaps Ellen had an unsightly scratch or something on her neck during production, which made turtlenecked gowns, leotards, and blouses preferable." I agree with Cameron. There are moments in CMM where you can see Ellen's neck and it's not hideous like people would suggest.

As you may have noticed, one of the biggest surprises of CMM is Mr. George Sanders. I think I often associate Sanders with his characters in Rebecca, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, and of course Shere Khan in The Jungle Book. To see him be so kind and adorable is thrilling, and to learn that he had an excellent singing voice is like extra frosting on an already delicious cake. In her autobiography, Merman noted that Sanders certainly wasn't Cosmo, writing that "George was sweet and believable and warm as toast as Cosmo Constantine, but he was a strange man, very hard to get to. Between takes he locked himself in his dressing room and that was it. He didn't seem to want to bother with anybody."

In an interview from 1979, O'Connor had this to say about CMM: "We did some beautiful numbers. The one with the castle all broken down, and around the water, was beautiful music beautifully choreographed. Working with Vera-Ellen was such a joy. And there’s one they cut out [when the movie is shown] on television. It had everything: a very fast two-person number, tap dancing. If you see the picture in its entirety, you’ll see it. That was, for me, my best dancing. As far as the best picture is concerned: There’s No Business Like Show Business." It's surprising that he didn't consider Singin' in the Rain his best, but you have to wonder if he considered that more Gene Kelly's picture than his. Regardless, I would say he was right in ascertaining that CMM has his best dancing. While he did iconic work in Singin', CMM gives him a romanticism and sophistication that is more indicative of his leading man talents, instead of just being the funny sidekick who can keep up with Gene Kelly. But that's just my opinion. See CMM for yourself before you kick me in the teeth.

With love,


This is my entry to the Royalty on Film Blogathon. For the other marvelous contributions, click here.


  1. I'm with you - how is this movie not better known! It is one of my ultimate, favorite musicals. The dancing, the chemistry between the actors, the songs, the costumes...George Sanders in a romantic role. I wish he'd played more roles like it.

    1. It's one of my favorite musicals, too! I'm stumped as to why it's been ignored. It was a box-office success, it has a well-known cast and an Irving Berlin score... what's the deal? Oh, dear George. I have such affection for him, especially in this role. Thanks for reading, Christina!

  2. What a fun introduction to a hidden gem! I'm guilty of never even hearing of this movie before, but I love "There's No Business Like Show Business" so I'll be sure to check this one out. And a non-villainous George Sanders? Singing? Dancing? Romancing Ethel Merman? That alone is worth eyeballing!

    1. Oh, it's so worth it! There isn't a trademark Sanders smirk to be found in this film, and it's great to see the actor excel at such an adorable part. Since you love There's No Business Like Show Business, I have no doubt you'll love Call Me Madam. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Hello! Its Emily and I just want to say thank you so very much for participating in my blogathon- It really means a lot to me! This film looks amazing- and I'm always one for hidden gems! Up until you signed up to write about it I had never heard of Call Me Madam, but now that I know about it- I want to watch it- It looks wonderful. The Characters seem so relatable and each one having their own personality- and the costumes look so gorgeous! Again- wonderful job, and awesome choice in film, and awesome write up! This film is Going on the watch list (mine seriously never ends!!) X- Emily

    1. Thank you! I know what you mean by the neverending watch list. Once you see CMM, you'll wonder why you hadn't heard of it sooner. It's just too delightful.

  4. I agree that this film deserves to be better known. I watched it on TV and really enjoyed. Donald O'Connor is my favorite from the cast, but Sanders surprised me with his singing. I adore the "Lovely Day" song and Donald's dances with the balloons. I think I'll never forget either of these.
    Don't forget to read my contribution to the blogathon! :)

    1. Unforgettable is a good description for this film! Donald O'Connor is probably my favorite part too, although he has considerable competition from the rest of the main cast. Thanks for reading! I'm very slowly getting through the other entries!

  5. Hi, another participant in Emily's royalty on film blogathon here. Wado!/Thank You So Much! for reminding me of this film! My "hard-drive" aka my brain had deleted so much of it from my mind. Just about everything I remember from it, besides it being "an Ethel Merman vehicle" was the funny meshing together of Lichtenstein and Luxembourg. Thanks so much for the reboot! I really appreciate the recap of the film, followed by background information. What I remember of the film has a lot to do with the quick witted delivery of lines by Merman. Also love the screen still with your notation of Irvin Berlin, NICE!

    1. Thank you for the kind words! I'm glad you found my format helpful -- usually when I write about films, I want to tell everyone everything about them, so I go as in-depth as I can (also known as "I can't shut up"). While this movie is certainly an Ethel Merman show all the way, the other elements more than meet the high bar she sets, making it a true classic. Again, thanks for reading!

  6. Hi, I wanted to say that I've nominated you for a Liebster Award. The details can be found here:

    1. Well, thank you! I'm gonna have to mull over those questions for a bit, but I'll reply just as soon as I can!

  7. Super review about great film.
    Dancing in this musical is from absolutely best I´ve ever seen.
    Perfect solos from O´Connor and Vera Ellen, but total peak are both O´Connor - VE duets - romantic It´s a lovely day - best hands working in film dance I´ve ever found and beautifull, full of life Something to dance about - ballet, tap, rock´n´roll, ballroom in one with perfect synchronisation and chemistry equal to Astaire - Rogers couple.
    Bravo to Robert Alton and both VE, O´Connor executors.

    Dancingly for me this movie is from best three:
    Belle of New York, Call Me Madam and Swing Time.
    Must see.

    1. So true! This film has some of my favorite musical sequences, and the teaming of O'Connor and Ellen was magical. Swing Time certainly boasts a plethora of incredible dancing, which I think is why so many claim it's the best of the Astaire-Rogers pictures. I saw Belle of New York last year, but I really want to see it again before I give my opinion.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  8. Fantastic remark about Vera Ellen´s working with skirt when she´s dancing.
    She is really master in this discipline. In fact I´ve never seen any dancer in any dancing style do it better and more charming. Maybe even more I love VE´s hands working, it is simply Plisetskaya level in another dancing style. VE is perfectly detail oriented dancer. On my eyes she is not so beautiful woman and she needs beautiful outfits, perfect working with head, hands or with skirt when she´s dancing.
    Cyd Charisse on the other hand looks so beautiful, she does not need to dance in choreographic so difficult numbers and still looks like great dancer. And for sure she is great, I think.

    1. That's true about Vera-Ellen's attention to detail. I've often noticed that she seems to put little touches into the dances that really make them her own, such as her hand placement or her skirt work. Now I want to watch all of her performances and see what else I can find!

  9. A wonderful movie! Everyone should see it at least once, preferably more.

    1. I agree! It's one of the best musicals from old Hollywood, in my opinion.

      Thanks for reading!


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