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Bells are Ringing – 1960 Minnelli
- With the wide canvas and beautiful pink titles in the opening credits—this feels like Minnelli from the very opening frames.
- After the titles, the film starts as an infomercial for Susanswerphone- an upscale answering service based out of a dingy Brooklyn building- where Judy Holliday’s Ella works. Minnelli ends the film with the infomercial as well to tie things up formally. Ella cares about her clients and gets involved in the lives of many of them- including Jeffrey Moss (played by Dean Martin).
- This is Holliday’s last film sadly- she passed away at age 43. She was a talented comedian (not so much a musician with that singing voice here). Martin plays opposite her- he used to playing off of talented comedians (Martin and Lewis for years with Jerry Lewis). Martin was riding high in 1960 (coming off Some Came Running – also with Minnelli, in 1958— and then Rio Bravo in 1959). All seven of Martin’s archiveable films are between 1958-1965. Holliday is like an American version of Giulietta Masina—a great comedian, and even looked like her.
- A great wide depth of field frame for Minnelli at the 14-minute mark with Holliday front right. Ruth Storey (who could pass for Susan Hayward) was in the middle center. The man waiting for Storey’s character is back left.
- It is 18-minutes before Deano shows up.
- The Eddie Foy number “It’s a Simple Little System” displays Minnelli’s trademark penchant for working with bold colors—there are the red Titanic booklets, and the yellow pipes in the background.
- At the 58-minute mark Deano has the “I Met a Girl” song—and Minnelli captures him on foot fighting walking traffic in a synthesized New York City—he’s getting bumped by seemingly hundreds of extras—all captured in one shot.
- Holliday is allowed to display her vocal and comedic abilities when she puts on a hat (straight out of The Wild One – 1953) and does a Marlon Brando impression.
- The greatest number from the film is “Just in Time”—Holliday is in a beautiful red dress, and the handsome Martin in a tux. Minnelli has the faux-Brooklyn bridge backdrop. He knew what he had here and went back to this for the very last frame of the film.
- A little sloppy formal issue at the 97-minute mark when Minnelli uses the inner monologue of Holliday’s character- you really don’t need this cheat with her facial expressions and abilities as a mime.
- Another standout at the 102-minute mark as Minnelli’s sweeping camera floats across a crowded bar to Martin at the bar drowning his sorrows.
- Recommend but not terribly close to the top 10-20 of 1960