Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Rosalind Russell in Auntie Mame

Rosalind Russell received her last Oscar nomination for playing the title role of Auntie Mame, a very eccentric, free-spirited woman who has to take care of her nephew after her brother dies. If Susan Hayward hadn't been nominated that year, I think Russell might have won. She was overdue and she had a successul movie and won a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Comedy/Musical. I feel, though, that her star faded a little bit at the time and she wasn't as popular as she was 15 years before. Still, I think she was at least the third. That being said, I think Russell's 'time' was in 1947 when she infamously lost to her friend Loretta Young.

Auntie Mame is movie that I really didn't like much. It's much better than Travels with My Aunt but I don't think that it deserved a Best Picture nomination. There are many "funny" situations but I never laughed out loud. The art direction and the costumes were, however, just excellent and I feel the movie deservedly received those nominations. I guess audiences at the time must have been crazy about this movie but right now it didn't really impress me. Peggy Cass is amusing in some moments but I didn't feel that she really rocked in that role or deserved a nomination.

Rosalind Russell is an actress I don't really know what to think about. I saw too few of her movies to judge her overall work. For example, I loved her in His Gorl Friday, but I thought she really overacted in Mourning Becomes Electra. She might have been one of those actresses who were nominated for the wrong roles or something. She's now mostly renowned for her comedy roles so I was actually quite looking forward to watching Auntie Mame, which is one of her most popular movies.

One expression sums up Rosalind Russell's performance the best: over-the-top. Her Mame is a very exaggerated character, who's quite loud and colorful. This is not exactly the type of performance that I go for and this one was not an exception, either. All in all, I wasn't impressed by Roz Russell. One would expect a very significant and grand entrée from such a character but somehow it wasn't that big. She's just there and that's it. She's saying things to her nephew in a very over-the-top manner, she has colorful costumes and that's it. That might be heavenly for some, but not me.

Roz Russell is really weird as Auntie Mame. You don't get a full picture of her and you don't know what to think about her. The character's development is not solved very well by Roz. Mame might be a fickle person but I don't think that she changes that fast. Her motherly instincts become strong from one moment to another without anything that could make it more believable.

Roz wass great at comedy in general and she solved the funny parts of the movie well without making Mame a total idiot. Although the horse riding scene if on the edge, Roz somehow survived that one, too. There are parts when Mame is more sarcastic and those scenes show something of the His Girl Friday Roz. Otherwise, this is not one of her best comedy performances on the screen.

This doesn't mean that she's not amusing in some of the scenes. She did not make me laugh out loud but she made me smile once in a while. Mame's extravagance is quite entertaining if you get used to it. Because you really have to empty your head to enjoy this performance. If you really think, you will be disappointed but you'll like her to a degree if you don't think that much. Because there are really stupid things about this performance. If you're willing not to care about them, you'll be quite pleased by Roz, ortherwise you'll have two and a half hours of suffering. I think you should let yourself get used to this character.

Still, somehow I feel that Roz Russell's performance as Auntie Mame is quite lacking and not a really great one. There's something really off-putting about it and I feel she could have tried harder to elevate the material. It might be that she didn't impress me because I don't go for this type of performance. I don't know why I didn't like her but the point is that I wasn't impressed at all.

What do you think?


Sage Slowdive said...

I can't stand this movie.

Louis Morgan said...

This movie really annoyed me because I liked it a little bit at the beginning when she was struggling with her nephew a bit, but the film just kept going. It slowly became extremely boring when she became rich, and it really outwore its welcome. I felt the same about Russell, as I did the film, I liked her a little at the beginning by by the end I really was quite bored by her as well.

dinasztie said...

Sage: Me, either.

Fritz said...

Again, I disagree with you - I like her much more.

Anonymous said...

with the exception of fritz, you are all idiots.

Anonymous said...

If you don't like "Auntie Mame, " you're not alive. Rosalind Russell was a consummate actress. Look at her in AM and then in "Picnic." Two opposite ends of the spectrum, both matchlessly done. And she was a lovely, gracious woman. Today, we have NO ONE like these Golden Age actors. Today, mediocrity pases for great. We took the greats for granted then, and now we miss them like crazy. Today's youth will never know what "great " really means. It's so very sad.