Ethel Merman, Donald O'Connor, Vera-Ellen, George Sanders. Merman revisits her Broadway role as a woman who suddenly becomes the American ambassador to a tiny European nation. Featuring musical numbers by Irving Berlin. Directed by Fran+§oise Romand. 1953/color/114 min/NR/fullscreen.
A great star and a great composer can make a Broadway musical into a smash, as Ethel Merman and Irving Berlin proved with Call Me Madam. Not a bad place to start with a movie, either, and the 1953 film of the show has both Merman and Berlin represented in brassy fashion. Granted, Merman's platinum-throated talents were best suited to the stage, and the production overall has that dutiful, stodgy tone of so many Fox musicals. Extra points for the suavity of George Sanders (he's Merman's love interest in tiny Lichtenburg, where the lady has been appointed U.S. ambassador), and for the dancing of Vera-Ellen and Donald O'Connor. A year after crashing through the wall in Singin' in the Rain, O'Connor has a similar solo athletic workout to "What Chance Have I with Love." High point: Merman and O'Connor trading verses on "You're Just in Love," the best tune in a bouncy score. --Robert Horton