Thursday, December 09, 2004

As I mentioned it...

The movie Auntie Mame--and I'm speaking only of the Rosalind Russell one, the Lucille Ball version was too bad for words*--is one of those rare cases of the movie being better than the book. The novel, by Patrick Dennis is not bad, but it lacks Rosalind Russell. Not to mention Mame's philosophy of life ("Life is a banquet...") and the sentimentalizing of the movie. I don't usually like sentimentalizing, but here it works; it humanizes Mame to see that she loves Patrick and wants to do her best for him. Yeah, I know, you could say the sentimentalizing tames Mame and makes her more acceptable in the average living room. And you'd be right, but then a movie has to be able to go into a lot of living rooms to be successful. And besides, we can be more sympathetic to Mame in the movie, where we think Mame loses her money solely because of the Depression, than in the book, where it's all too obvious she loses everything through her own stupidity.

Had I read the book as a teenager, I may have enjoyed it more. That whole "weirding out the mundanes" schtick (not quite accurate for Mame, but it's related) is more of a teenager thing than an adult one. I'd still say read it, though. If for no other reason than as a glimpse into our political past: Mame is a Democrat who works herself ragged--well, as ragged as you can get and still be glamorously dressed and coiffed--in the war effort during WWII, and is opposed to anti-Semitism. Ah, the good old days.

*Okay, I'll admit it, there was one funny moment in Lucille Ball's Mame: when I realized the drag queen I thought was playing Mame's friend, Vera Charles, was not actually a drag queen, but Bea Arthur.

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