The play has evidently served in its original aspect as the basis of the scenic representation, around it are several degrees of realism and the complicated lighting system. The décors are richly expressive and co-equal with the lighting, which is a variant of Hollywood lighting for color cinematography to create a measured playing space in the house interior and set off the barnyard exterior night outside, a painstakingly accurate effect.
Crowther derided the production as in any event a thing of “rubes”, Gotham sophistication thus overlooked the Baudelairean theme, fine construction and supreme genius of the piece as much too good for it.
Anthony labored hard to make such a fascinating masterpiece, but the theme was worth it.
The story is told in the prologue, a “tornado rod” free to the girl, two bits to the first gent, fifty cents the next and so on.
The theme of perfect harmony is already expressed between the cinematography and the direction, the actors and the settings, before the script has a chance to work, that makes one of the marvels of the cinema from the start.
Mrs. Dolly Levi, “born Gallagher”, of New York, “arranging domestic affairs” in Yonkers, widow of Ephraim.
According to A.H. Weiler of the New York Times, “cute and irreverent... silly situations... never serious, a pleasurable experience” for all that.
Variety praised the “superb... bright... immense” cast “in this yarn of 1884.”
The Catholic News Service Media Review Office, “stagy... winning... sweetly good-humored.”
Malachi Stack, “an apprentice at your age?” Vandergelder surveys the scene, “the world is getting crazier every minute, Joe. Like my father used to say, horses will be taking over the world soon,” that is to say, The World Turned Upside Down. He is quite mad, the characters famously take the spectators into their confidence, so you know.
Welles is the preponderating influence, visibly, Miss Ernestina Simple the bride-to-be (“for the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them”), Lubitsch, too, has a share in the provenance, and no sooner does Ernst seem to figure than The Italian Straw Hat (dir. René Clair) appears.
“A double life, that’s all... the famous Cornelius Hackl.”
The Harmonia Gardens. “Don’t you boys forget, you made us lose our reputations and now the fashionable world is the only place we can eat.”
Kelly films all this in color for Hello, Dolly!.
“Mrs. Levi, I’m a neighborhood merchant, not a Roman emperor!”
Halliwell’s Film Guide, “cold and lifeless”, citing Peter John Dyer of Sight and Sound on “the general lack of pace, lightness and dimension”.
The liberator of Paris and defender of South Korea goes upon the Broadway stage at length, and there is a tale of hardship and bitterness to rival them all, nothing left of him but the actor, the shell all burned away.
Rouse’s The Oscar and Robert’s Salut l’artiste have different views of the action, Griffith’s Edgar Allan Poe is the short version.
“Lacks punch” (Time Out).
“Well played”, says Halliwell’s Film Guide, “but slow and indeterminate.”
All In A Night’s Work
A very complicated differential equation finally bringing together the New York magazine publisher and that girl way down below, victim or blackmailer on the bargaining committee.
Anthony permits his technique to be all but entirely obscured, in keeping with the title.
There was a man once in Appalachia, schoolchildren went to visit him and some other mountain folk for a class project around the time this film was made in Mississippi, he lived much as these folks do, and he kept three prized possessions, a Bible, a volume of Browning, and a banjo.
He would understand this film, because of “The Ring and the Book” and “Apparent Failure”, it would seem plain as day to him, if for no other reason.
Canby the Manhattanite thought it “patronizing”.