Movie Review: Hello, Dolly! (1969)


Title: Hello, Dolly!
Release Date: December 16, 1969
Director: Gene Kelly
Production Company: Chenault Productions
Summary/Review:

Hello, Dolly! is the type of exorbitant, technicolor song & dance musical that I think was already old fashioned at the time of its release in 1969.  It may be the last musical of the classic style because in the 1970s, adaptations of Broadway musicals like Cabaret and Grease had a very different feel to them.  Hello, Dolly! has a long pedigree, going back to 1938 when Thornton Wilder wrote The Merchant of Yonkers, itself based on a century-old story.  Wilder rewrote the play as The Matchmaker in 1955, and in 1963 it was adapted once again as a Broadway musical starring Carol Channing.

In the film, Barbra Streisand stars as Dolly Levi, a widow who works as a matchmaker in New York City and is, as the kids these days say, so very extra!  Dolly sets forth with an elaborate plan to convince the prosperous but cranky Yonkers’ merchant Horace Vandergelder (Walter Matthau) to marry her. She also convinces Horace’s hardworking store clerks, Cornelius (Michael Crawford) and Barnaby (Danny Lockin) to enjoy a day in New York with the milliners Irene (Marianne McAndrew) and Minnie (E. J. Peaker). Chaos ensues.  The movie also features a cameo by Louis Armstrong in his last movie role before his death. He sings the title song with Streisand, a song that he got to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1964, knocking The Beatles out of the top slot, because pop charts are weird and wonderful that way.

Hello, Dolly! is rather corny, and often very horny, and a lot of it doesn’t really make much sense. (What does Dolly see in Horace, anyway?)  But on pure spectacle, it’s a lot of fun with some great song and dance, so it’s worth a watch.

Rating: ***1/2

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