Saturday, March 26, 2011
MOVIE SHOWCASE: BELLS ARE RINGING
Ella Peterson works as a switchboard operator at the Susanswerphone answering service. She can't help breaking the rules by becoming overly involved in the lives of the subscribers. Some of the more peculiar ones include a dentist who composes songs on an air hose, an actor who emulates Marlon Brando, and a little boy for whom she pretends to be Santa Claus.
A humorous subplot involves the courtly Otto, who convinces Susanswerphone to take orders for his "mail-order classical record business". Unfortunately, Otto is actually a bookie whose orders are a system for betting on horses. Unwittingly, Ella changes some of the "orders" not realizing she is changing "bets".
Although the police begin to assume that Susanswerphone might be a front for an escort service, the plot ends happily, with Jeff proposing, and her wacky subscribers coming to thank her.
Judy and Dean Martin interacted very little off the set. There wasn't a great deal animosity between them, it was just that they didn't have much in common. Judy would retire to her trailer between takes, passing the down time by playing Scrabble. Martin preferred to pass the time at a nearby golf course. The only possible source of contention between the two was that Martin, as he freely admitted, regarded his role as a waste of his time and talent. Martin had not appeared in the stage version and thus did not share Judy's level of commitment to the project. For him, this was just another film. Jeffrey Moss was the type of character Martin had played numerous times before. The lack of a challenge lead him to sleepwalk his way through the role. For Judy, it was a character and a property that she had devoted 3 years of her life to. Since Martin was just going through the motions, Judy feared that their on-screen relationship would suffer and as a result, the romance would across as more polite than passionate.
BELLS ARE RINGING premiered on June 20, 1960 at Radio City Music Hall and preceeded to break all of that venue's existing records, grossing more than $1 million during its 7-week run. Unfortunately, the "Bells" box-office phenomena was confined to the New York area whose residents adored the play and were interested to see how well it translated to film. The movie did not fare anywhere near as well across the rest of the country. Dino got the best reviews of the movie, and of course he would go on to star in many more films. This movie was a devastating blow for Judy Holliday, and she would never make another movie. Five years later Judy passed away...