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  • Since the play, "Laurette," was never realized, the movie version of "Bells are Ringing" serves as Judy Holliday's "final" performance.

    It's to her credit that she comes off as well as she does. The film is extremely stagey, and looks contrived and bloated, despite a most competent cast and director.

    Yet Holliday is buoyant, full of fun, and energetic--all hallmarks of her theatrical persona.

    I've read Holliday's complete bio, and am amazed she was able to overcome the tremendous obstacles she endured, from her sad childhood and family relationship through the communist "witch hunt" period--which left her saddled with protest pickets that followed her around--to failed marriages, lack of employment, and care giving responsibilities for her child and parent. All the while working wherever she could and keep smiling.

    In many respects her career is quite similar to that of Montgomery Clift. Both apparently gave their best work on the stage, night after night before live audiences, rather than on film. Had both stayed in the theatre, their respective careers and lives might have remained more stable and healthy--and be alive today.

    "Bells are Ringing" is a final tribute to a great talent, an Oscar-winning actress and comedienne who graced the stage and screen with a radiant presence and winning demeanor. Fortunately, as long as her films are shown, Judy Holliday will live and be rediscovered by future generations.
  • "Bells are Ringing" is a must for Judy Holliday's fans. The bubbly star of some of the best comedies of the fifties, is the main reason for watching this musical, directed by Vincente Minnelli. Betty Comden and Adolph Green were the creators of the book and lyrics with music by Jule Styne.

    The film was an excuse for showcasing Ms. Holliday and Dean Martin, who took over Sydney Chaplin's role. The two stars show an easy chemistry in their scenes together, even though the transfer to the screen seems somehow clumsy coming from an experienced director of musicals like Mr. Minnelli.

    "Bells are Ringing" is a nostalgic look at the New York of the 1950s. It was quite a status symbol to have an answering service in those days before the automatic devices of today. There is a hilarious second plot involving illegal gambling by linking classical music works to the different races in several horse race tracks that are channeled through Susanswerphone service, which makes the police Ella is involved in the scheme.

    Judy Holliday gave a tremendous performance in the film as the kind, but somehow naive Ella. Dean Martin is fine also as the blocked writer. In supporting roles Eddie Foy Jr., Jean Stapleton, and Dean Clark, are seen among others.
  • Made late in the cycle of great MGM musicals, with the reliable producer-director combo of Arthur Freed and Vincente Minnelli, this is a fairly clunky adaptation of a Broadway hit. Despite some location filming, it looks stagebound, and the stylized playing and jerrybuilt musical-comedy plot look false as hell. Some excellent musical numbers from the original are badly truncated or left out entirely, and what's left is grotesquely over-orchestrated. One senses that Minnelli, in particular, didn't trust the material--look at how quickly he dispenses with the "Mu-Cha-Cha" number, seemingly embarrassed by its musical-comedy silliness--and the supporting cast seems to be playing to the second balcony.

    That's the bad news; now we get, thank heaven, to Judy Holliday. Having played this part on Broadway for two years and toured with it longer, she looks amazingly spontaneous. Given her health problems at the time, she looks happy and healthy. And while we can't expect to experience her legendary warmth and charisma as stage audiences did, it's an incomparable performance. Every reaction, every inflection, every seemingly improvised movement rings true and lends depth and poignancy to a paper-thin character traipsing around in a contrived plot. What a lesson for any young actor in transforming everyday material into something memorable. My favorite moment comes early, when she's reclining on a sofa and looks up dreamily and starts singing, a capella and with perfect naturalism, "I'm in love..." I'm in love, too, Judy. We miss you.
  • In contrast to the guy who wrote the comment on the main page in this board, I saw this movie and I really enjoyed it. I had never seen a Judy Holliday movie before and I was totally taken in by her charm and good acting. Dean Martin (a favorite of mine) showed his usual suave personality and I thought he was perfect for the role. The songs and the choreography are excellent. I just love the mood of this movie and its message of healthy humanism, whether or not it's something I really believe in. I like the scene where Judy and Dean say hello and introduce themselves to the man on the street. Also of note is Minnelli's smart direction. One of the best musicals of the 60s, sadly one of the last.
  • If I really loved musicals, I would have probably scored the movie a 9. In fact, that I scored it as high as an 8 is an indication that, for the genre, it was a heck of a film. That's because the story apart from the songs is very sweet and romantic. Plus, the actors are so appealing and good that this certainly improved the film a lot. Judy Holliday was at her best and Dean Martin certainly was able to keep up with her and I really liked him more in this musical than as a comedian. Despite films like MATT HELM, he was a good actor and singer. Now, concerning the songs, it's rare that I have seen a musical with so many songs I have never heard before! But, after hearing them, I liked them a lot more than many of the more famous Rogers and Hammerstein musical scores from other pictures. This is because in addition to having nice music, the words were so often funny and charming. I particularly liked the song all the bookies sang as well as the name-dropping song! They were terrific.

    The only thing is that watching the film I felt pretty depressed, as I knew that this was Ms. Holliday's last film--cancer limited her ability to act until she eventually succumbed six years later. It's a shame, as I loved her in so many wonderful films.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Vincente Minnelli's "Bells Are Ringing" (1960) generally gets a bad wrap from reviewers and critics alike. While it is true that the film came at the tail end of MGM's reign of supremacy in musical motion picture entertainment – and it is equally true that the film falls short by direct comparison to, say, Minnelli's "Meet Me In St. Louis (an unfair but often used example), all the pistons are firing on this occasion with this delightful story of a phone operator who falls in love with one of her clients.

    The story concerns lonely Ella Peterson (Judy Holliday in her final performance). Working out of a basement apartment for Susan's-a-phone (a personal message service), Ella longs for the good life and the right fella to fill her needs. However, that doesn't prevent her plucky personality from offering equal portions of good advice and smart talk to her roster of happy clients. Ella's fraternization doesn't particularly sit well with her employer, Sue (Jean Stapleton) who is all dollars and cents, or police detective, Barnes (Dort Clark) who advises Ella that it's illegal to provide unsolicited information in the capacity of a business acquaintance. But Ella is all set to throw caution to the wind when she falls in love with Plaza 0-double four, double nine. That extension belongs to Jeffrey Moss (Dean Martin), a once successful playwright who fears that his days of popularity are numbered and has since turned to shallow women and hollow relationships for solace.

    Screenwriters Betty Comden and Adolph Green transform their Broadway original into a sublime cinematic treat. Minnelli directs adroitly and – given the limited budget he had to work with – delivers a film that appears to be on a much grander scale than it actually is. Particularly in his execution of the "Drop that Name" sequence – in which Ella lampoons her association with the hoi polloi, Minnelli's brisk camera work and staging is flawless. The same is true during Eddy Foy Jr.'s charming romp in "Oh, What A System". Delivered with comedic panache and laconic savvy a la the darling Holliday and charming Martin, the rest of the score, including such standards as "Just in Time" and "Drop That Name" is brilliant and bouncy.

    Thanks to Warner's stunning new transfer, "Bells are Ringing" arrives 'just in time' on DVD. The anamorphically enhanced Cinemascope image is outstanding. Colors are nicely balanced. Image quality is a marked improvement over anything this film has looked like before on home video. Blacks are rich, deep and solid. Whites are crisp, but never blooming. There is a hint of film grain and the occasional shimmer of fine detail but nothing that will distract you from wallowing in the riotous splendor of this musical classic. The audio has been impeccably remastered in 5.1 and delivers an unexpectedly powerful kick during the songs. The one disappointment for admirers of this film is that the featurette on the film "Just in Time" is way too short to be considered a valid supplement. Others include two outtake musical sequences made available previously, and the film's theatrical trailer. Regardless of these shortcomings, "Bells Are Ringing" comes highly recommended as great good time fun.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Judy Holliday gained Broadway stardom and entry into Hollywood with her performance as Billie Dawn in BORN YESTERDAY. She also would score on Broadway for the last time in the musical THE BELLS ARE RINGING. I find it amazing, given the paucity of her film career, that these two stage performances were preserved, while so many great stage performances (of Ethel Merman, Mary Martin, Ethel Waters) failed to get preserved in the Hollywood system. Obviously the saleability of Holliday in 1960 was higher than that of Merman (even after ANNIE GET YOUR GUN), most likely due to her Oscar. One can only be grateful to providence or whatever for coming to Holliday's aid here - one wishes it could have stepped up for the others more often.

    THE BELLS ARE RINGING was directed by Vincent Minelli, and has some great musical numbers in it: Eddie Foy's "It's a Simple Little System" where his record sales mask a bookie operation, culminating in a mock song spiel of serious music lovers singing the names of race courses to the "Hallelujah" Chorus; the "Drop that Name" number at Fred Clark's party, wherein the only name of a celebrity Judy can recall is Rin Tin Tin; the "Just in Time" song and dance by Dean Martin and Judy Holliday in a mini-park, and it's follow-up of "The Party's Over", probably Judy's best sung tune in her career. Not all the show's tunes are in the movie. Eddie Foy sings a song to Jean Stapleton (Sue of Sue's Answer Phone) to romance her with his mock European elegance - the song is called "Salzberg by the Sea" which shows how phony he really is (Salzberg is in the center of landlocked Austria!).

    The film is well set in it's period, in two odd ways. One is a gag in the story: Frank Gorshin as method actor Blake Barton, who is an obvious spoof of Marlon Brando. The other is the appearance of Dean Martin as Jeffrey Moss, the troubled composer hero of the musical who romances Ella Peterson (Judy). In the Broadway production it was Hal Linden who played opposite Judy (he appears in this film, in his first film role, singing the song "The Midas Touch" at a nightclub). But Martin was a nationally known singer, and movie star. But he was, in real life, facing a situation exactly like Jeffrey Moss. Moss (before the story of the show begins) has been in a successful theater team, like Gilbert and Sullivan or Rodgers and Hammerstein...or like Martin and Lewis. In fact, Moss's partner just broke up the partnership (and is doing well on his own - like Lewis did at first). Moss's funk is what the public in 1960 thought Martin had faced a few years earlier when Lewis split with him.

    The movie showcases Judy's comic talents, as she stimulates Martin, Gorshin, Bernie West (the musically inclined Dr. Kitchell), confronts Dort Clarke (the ambitious Inspector Barnes), and aids a desperate Otto when threatened by hoods. She handles the situations well, reminding us of how talented a lady she was. It was a fitting conclusion to her career - but a sad reminder that that career deserved to be far longer than it was.
  • Arthur Freed's final musical production for MGM was this very bright musical comedy from Jule Styne-Betty Comden-Adolph Green, Bells Are Ringing. Sadly this was also the farewell film performance of Judy Holliday who was playing the role of Ella Peterson which she had created on Broadway.

    Bells Are Ringing ran for 924 performances on Broadway from 1956 to 1959 and won a few Tony Awards including one for Judy Holliday as Best Actress. I'm sure the Tony went well with the Oscar she won for Born Yesterday up on her mantel.

    According to a book about Arthur Freed and the films he produced at MGM, Bells Are Ringing was not an easy shoot. Judy Holliday was suffering a lot of health problems with bladder and kidney. In that sequence where she goes on a blind date and her dress catches on fire, Holliday was actually burned. And she had a constant battle with her weight.

    Her leading man on Broadway was Charlie Chaplin's son, Sydney who also won a Tony Award and with whom she was involved with. MGM wanted a name with a bit more box office to it, so Dean Martin was cast as playwright Jeffrey Moss. Holliday got along with Dean, but she felt him to lackadaisical in his attitude. That might have been a problem later on, but certainly not here. I'm sure she'd have preferred Sydney Chaplin to work with again.

    With the advances in telecommunications, Bells Are Ringing at this point has an almost quaint nostalgic look to it. I'm sure young viewers now who use cellphones and text messaging and have automatic answering systems built in to phones wouldn't even understand what an answering service was all about.

    They certainly all weren't like Susanswerphone which is run by Jean Stapleton and employs two other people including Judy Holliday. Despite warnings by Jean to just take messages and a visit by police inspector Dort Clark who misreads what's going on at the Susanswerphone switchboard, Judy is a compulsive do-gooder who insists on meddling in the lives of her customers.

    But she does it in such a sweet and winning way, Holliday creates one of the great screen characters and like Billie Dawn from Born Yesterday, one that originated on the stage. In one way Bells Are Ringing is a modern story, it's almost like an internet chatroom with Holliday running the board.

    Besides Judy, Jean Stapleton, Dort Clark, and Bernie West who plays the frustrated songwriting dentist all repeat their roles from the original Broadway cast. Freed and director Vincent Minnelli pulled off some real casting gems for some of the other parts. Fred Clark as the producer who's trying to get a play out of Dino, Eddie Foy, Jr. as the dapper conman/bookie who is romancing Stapleton and whose activities arouse the police suspicions in the first place, and Frank Gorshin who I love best playing a second rate Marlon Brando imitator of a method actor.

    Most of the musical score remained intact here. Arthur Freed would have been lynched had he attempted to bring Bells Are Ringing to the screen without Just In Time and The Party's Over. The last has become an automatic item the way Goodnight Sweetheart used to be signaling the end of an evening's festivities. And I do so like the Drop That Name number, try to see how many celebrities get their named dropped in that song.

    Despite the problems it had with shooting, Bells Are Ringing is certainly a fitting climax for Arthur Freed's career as a producer. Judy Holliday made no more films, but did have another Broadway show, Hot Spot which did not have a long run. What a terrible tragedy, one so talented left us at age 44.

    Still her fans can treasure her memory and her art in watching among other of her films, Bells Are Ringing.
  • Fans of Dean Martino and Judy Holliday (né Tuvim) will enjoy this musical. I am a fan of both of them so I could overlook the awkward staging of the Susanswerphone set, the believeability of Maritn as a writer and the dead weight of the subplot involving the racketeers. Still there are some well-sung songs and good, if not great chemistry, between the stars. For non-fans: 6/10. For fans: 7/10.
  • Judy Holliday originated the role of Ella Petersen, the Susanwersphone switchboard operator, in Vincente Minnelli's adaptation of the Broadway musical, with music by Jules Styne and book and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green. Although filmed in 1960, this musical belongs to the conventions of the 1950's with a brassy orchestration, superfluous supporting cast for comic relief, and a Brando impersonator. That Holliday remains as the best thing about it, in spite of Minnelli's less flattering treatment of her than George Cukor, is a tribute to her gifts as an actress, in particular a Broadway performer with the subtlety to adapt for film acting.

    Holliday's two solo numbers - It's a Perfect Relationship and I'm Going Back - are triumphs of personal charm, in spite of the director. Minnelli has trouble de-staging the switchboard environment and the film only comes to life after Holliday leaves it to meet Dean Martin, as her favourite client, in person. In the Better than a Dream number, where both Holliday and Martin sing oblivious to the other's reality, this is Minnelli finally presenting a musical sequence cinematically. This pattern continues with Martin's funny I Met a Girl, sung as he battles street crowds. Minnelli treats Holliday's plaintive ballad The Party's Over simply, if disappointedly in long and medium shot presumably since he thinks Holliday's voice doesn't deserve a closeup, in contrast to the botched Just in Time, the score's most lovely song, wretchedly staged. The Drop That Name number is probably more about Minnelli than Holliday, since he scores points off her, comparing her perceived frumpiness to the vacuous stereotypical 1950's society vamp.

    Holliday and Martin play off each other well, overcoming the oddness of their union. Martin actually looks not at his best, which undermines the romantic appeal, and his solo reveals he shouldn't be given one. It's hard not to consider his character's fear of success without his partner and not have thoughts of Jerry Lewis, though believing Martin as a playwright is trouble enough. Thankfully there's Holliday. Far more likeable and individual than say a Doris Day, Minnelli's having her lower her head for pathos is the lowest appreciation of her potential. This wasn't considered a great musical to begin with, and the film is pretty hard to take whenever the supporting players take over, with excruciating bits featuring Eddie Foy and The Titanic record company, vice squad surveillance, and the mafia, however the songwriting dentist gave me a few chuckles.
  • I found Bells Are Ringing accidentally when I was researching another film project and it has become a favorite. While Holliday is sparkling in her role, it is Martin's low-key reactions (which are, of course, what made him such a great straight man) that send me back to watch the film again and again. It's a "don't-miss" for fans of Holliday, Martin and the musical comedy - heavy on the comedy - genre.
  • In the cinema firmament, this film is perhaps not a classic. It wasn't on the AFI 100 list, it isn't well-remembered by film critics. This is unfortunate. I watch this movie at least once a month. It reaffirms my belief in the magical. Dean Martin and Judy Holliday are fabulous, especially Judy in her last role, but this film is made by the supporting characters such as Jean Stapleton and Frank Gorshin. The way that Minelli was able to take a wonderful play and make it even more wonderful in a film is a testament to his genius. You feel like you're part of the world of Susanswerphone and you wish to remain so at the end of the film.
  • i admit that this is the first judy holliday film i have ever saw and from her performance i'm sorry that entertainment lost her. i found that this movie had frank gorshin in it ke barton] so i had to see it! i loved how judy holliday portrayed ella, the way she sang and acted. my favorite song was the first one that she sang ["i'm in love with a man....."]. dean martin was his usual suave self and that gave the movie flare. it was wonderfully casted and the songs and story were so beautiful. if you're looking for a great movie beyond compare, this is it! definetly a classic that should not be forgotten!
  • I'm not a musical fan so I always give extra props to the ones I do love. Bells Are Ringing is a Broadway hit brought to the screen and Judy Holliday reprises her Tony Award-winning role in it.

    The story has a basic Cinderella plot but what's charming about it is Holliday's inimitable bubbly blonde style and the character she plays - an overly-helpful "Susanswerphone" answering service attendant (like a human voice mail service) who likes to give advice to her clients and ends up falling for a playboy playwright, Dean Martin. It also helps that the movie's directed by Vincente Minnelli, who excels at musicals, and written by Broadway luminaries - and close friends of Holliday - Betty Comden and Adolph Green (their most famous work being Singin' in the Rain).

    I have to say the movie's all the more powerful if you know that it was Judy Holliday's last movie and that she was already ill with the cancer that would eventually kill her five years later at the age of 44. I wish she had made more movies but at least she's been in gems like this one, along with Born Yesterday and Adam's Rib.
  • While not a wonderful adaptation of the play, Bells Are Ringing is still great fun. The always-wonderful Judy Holliday shows just how much of a great talent we lost with her early death. She steamrolls through this part but is also greatly touching. And (surprise! surprise!) Dean Martin is just perfect as the under-motivated writer. That was a part that was heavily overshadowed in the stage version, but Martin holds his own against Holliday's cannonball performance. The Styne-Comden-Green score is also terrific. Two songs were written especially for the screen version - both for Martin's role. Oddly, a main weakness of the film is Minnelli's direction. It's as if he didn't quite know what to do with Holliday, and it makes for a bumpy ride.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The writing team of Betty Comden and Adolph Green had successive hits with "Bells Are Ringing." The first was on Broadway where the musical play ran for 924 performances from 1956-1959. The second was this 1960 film starring Judy Holliday and Dean Martin. Holliday and Jean Stapleton reprised their roles from the play as Ella Peterson and Sue, respectively. The Broadway romp won Holliday a Tony award as best actress in a musical, and co-star Sydney Chaplin the Tony as best actor in a musical.

    While the film just received one Oscar nomination – Andre Previn for musical composition, it was a box office hit. Musicals were supposed to have been passé by 1960, but this film showed there was still interest in the genre. Indeed, every decade since has had at least one smash hit musical, and some have had a few to several. The ingredients for success in that genre today are either a knockout plot or dynamite music. Some have had both. This film has a dilly of a plot with a very clever story idea. And, of its songs, three became popular tunes in their day – "Just in Time," "The Party's Over," and "Long Before I Knew You."

    For history buffs, "Bells Are Ringing" also has a bit of nostalgia, showing the days when businesses and people used telephone answering services. "Susanswerphone" is a clever name the writers gave to the business in this film. Another very clever, and funny aspect is the bookie betting system based on music. Racetracks were represented by names of classic composers. The parody of Handel's Hallelujah chorus is excellent, and I don't think irreverent. Otto Prantz (played superbly by Eddie Foy Jr.), "What is Handel?" Chorus, "Hialeah, Hialeah!" Prantz, "What is Handle?" Chorus, "Hialeah, Hialeah." Prantz, "Oh, what a system."

    Holliday, Martin and the entire cast are very good. One of the numbers toward the end of the film, "Drop That Name" has Ella singing with an ensemble of a cast of people at the party. It may hold the record for most name-dropping ever in a movie. Holliday especially shows her talent with some skits in which she plays a number of different characters with voice changes and mannerisms to suit.

    Here are a couple funny lines from the film. For more funny dialog snippets, see the Quotes section on this IMDb Web page of the film.

    Blake Barton (played by Frank Gorshin), "So I get this image see, of a ostrich – a ostrich trying to bury his head in a cement pavement." Two guys listening to him, "Cuckoo. Cuckoo."

    Jeffrey Moss, "You know, if I hadn't found you crawling around on my floor, I wouldn't be invited anyplace. I'd just be resting comfortably, face down, in the gutter."
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Copyright 1960. A Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer picture. New York opening at the Radio City Music Hall: 23 June 1960 (ran 7 weeks). U.K. release: 9 October 1960. Australian release: 20 October 1960. 11,309 feet. 125 minutes.

    SYNOPSIS: The operator of a telephone answering service falls in love with one of her clients.

    NOTES: Judy Holliday's last film. She died 7 June 1965. Also Arthur Freed's last musical and his second last film (see "Light in the Piazza"). M-G-M production number: 1760. Shooting from 7 October 1959 through 24 December 1959. Negative cost: $2,203,123. Initial world- wide rentals gross: $3,985,950 (which means that after adding print, advertising and distribution expenses, the film did little more than break even). The Screen Writers Guild gave Comden and Green an award for the Best Written American Musical of 1960.

    COMMENT: A much under-rated movie. Admittedly, it was, according to all reports, difficult to make. Judy Holliday (repeating her stage success) was not in good health, but there is no sign of any strain or nervousness in her typically ebullient performance. Her timing is absolutely perfect and she realty enlivens every scene in which she appears. Dean Martin also shines. In fact, he often looks as delightfully bewildered as we are by the enjoyably screwy plot.

    As a musical, "Bells Are Ringing" is commendably innovative – an odd mixture of realism, fantasy and even surrealism. But alas, unlike me and other professional critics, neighborhood audiences were not entranced. Nevertheless, I feel sure that this is a movie that will always have a central core of fervent admirers – and you can count me as one of them. You'll notice than Comden and Green, who wrote the Broadway success, also penned the screen adaptation. That's why, for once, all the elements, including the songs, that thrilled Broadway audiences have not only been carried forward intact to the movie, but even enhanced!
  • Judy Holiday is enough to justify watching any film, and she is as splendid as ever here. Dean Martin is either wonderful or awful and manages the former quite comfortably. Sadly the plot and the score let these two stars down. The chemistry between Martin and Holiday is wonderful and gives the film a warmth and an innocence that is exceedingly appealing forty years on, the fact that this was Ms Holiday's last film adding to the pathos.

    You'll enjoy watching and it will raise several smiles so it has to be a good is just sad that the plot and score stop a good film becoming the classic which its cast deserved.
  • I just wish this swan song for Judy was closer to her best films. Unfortunately it's not. There are some good moments, such as her little cha-cha-cha number with Martin, which I think is the movie's best highlight. Then too a couple of the tunes ("The Party's Over" and "Just In Time ") really register among a generally undistinguished lot. Happily, Holliday also gets to show some of that inimitable Holliday spark near the end. Trouble is the rest of the film is routine at best. I'm not sure why premier musical director Minnelli seems so disinterested. But in my book, he appears to be— especially, photographing everything from an impersonal distance, thereby undercutting the star's usual sparkle. Moreover, as far as I can tell, there are no good directorial touches. At the same time, the screenplay doesn't help, making Judy's role dour and drab for the most part. Only later does she get to show some trademark glamor and bounce. (Given these uncharacteristic flaws, there may be a revealing backstory to the production.) Then too, I agree with the reviewer who thinks the run time too long for the pasted together plot. And, yes, that bookie subplot should have been dropped.

    Anyway, it's a good thing Judy's best films (Born Yesterday {1950}, It Should Happen To You {1954}, et al.) remain as a permanent record of one of the screen's most endearing comediennes. Too bad this one doesn't reach that level.
  • First, let me say that I am a fan of Judy Holliday. She displays her broad array of talents in this film, but that is about all this film has going for it. See "Born Yesterday" for a vehicle that better uses her abilities. In that movie, Judy's romantic interest was William Holden, and the chemistry was there. In "Bells are Ringing" her romantic interest is Dean Martin. I felt no magnetism between the two. And I felt that he was unsuited for this role. It was interesting that Dean's character, a writer named Jeffrey Moss, was afraid of failure in the wake of losing his former partner, with whom he had success. Dean himself was only 3 years beyond his split with Jerry Lewis, and must have wondered--at first--if he could duplicate the tremendous successes they had as a team.

    Jeffrey Moss, when we first meet him, is in his bachelor flat, surrounded by used glasses, presumably used for alcohol consumption. And he has three cigarettes smoking at the same time. He is obviously used to drinking around the clock and seems to have little if any genuine affection for the numerous women in his life. He is a writer frozen with fear of failure and looks to be on the road to achieving that end.

    The concept that Ella, played by Judy, interjects herself into his life and becomes his muse is a good one. But their relationship works only on that professional level. No sparks ensue. Martin's character did not even seem to know anything about Ella, let alone have any deep feelings for her as a woman.

    The story itself is very dated, but interesting because of that. The conventions of 1960 as sometimes funny, sometimes ridiculous. Note that the men from Vice equate modeling and a red dress with prostitution, though film standards prevent them from using that word. New York City is caricatured as an emotionally cold city, where buildings from the past are destroyed to make way for buildings of steel and neon lights. It was probably totally believable because it was partially true.

    I noted the movie sign for "Gigi", which--like this film--was an Arthur Freed production.

    Frank Gorshin got to use his Brando impersonation, delightfully, in his role as the aspiring actor Blake Barton.

    Some of the off-screen voices that Ella converses with sound like they could have been voiced by Judy herself.

    I thought I detected similarities to "Guys and Dolls" (1955) and "Li'l Abner" (1959)), which is no criticism, just an observation. And Judy's performance makes me wonder if Streisand ("Funny Girl" in 1965) might have seen her performance.

    I read elsewhere online that one viewer thought the dance in the park by Martin and Holliday was the best part of the film. For me, the number was painful to watch, in part due to their lack of emotional attachment, in part because it seemed so contrived.
  • Director Vincente Minnelli gets this stagy adaptation of the Broadway success off to a splashy start; however, like most musicals helmed by the erratic Minnelli, he never quite lives up to that colorful opening. Beginning with a succession of ringing rotary phones--all in kicky colors--the prelude acts as an advertisement for Susanswerphone, a telephone answering service. It looks as though this going be pure genius, until we find out that nervously-wired Judy Holliday is the only operator Susanswerphone seems to have (and she's the kooky type, getting involved in other people's lives because she has nothing going on in her own). Holliday is in love with one of the clients, a Broadway playwright who thinks he's washed up, and feels guilty about dating him under an alias, but her situation doesn't seem exceptionally dire. Dean Martin (miscast) sings a nice, funny version of "Just in Time" with Holliday, but otherwise hasn't much to offer. The stale plot, trite and cozy-contrived, gets a boost from the musical moments, but even those are not staged with much excitement. Too bad...Susanswerphone had great possibilities. **1/2 from ****
  • A long time ago, answering services were used before technology improved. Ella Peterson (Judy Holliday) runs such a service and takes care of many clients. She gets involved in their personal lives although she has never met them. Only 2 really notable songs in this movie musical: "Just in Time" and "The Party's Over". "It's a Perfect Relationship" and "I'm Going Back" are clever, but many songs are totally forgettable. Most notable as the "Tour De Force" of the persona and style of Judy Holliday, who tragically died of throat cancer just five years later, in 1965 at age 43. (She was a chain smoker.) A clever and unique "book" involving dumb cops, bookies, stereotypical gangsters, and many personalities. Jean Stapleton and Frank Gorshin in a rather large cast. Dean Martin plays the musical author with writer's block and Judy Holliday plays his "Muse". They work well together. I also love the tacky bar showgirls bumping and grinding to "The Midas Touch" song which is truly terrible. Based on the often-used concept that one single life can affect many people in a very positive way. The last Arthur Freed-Vincente Minnelli production.
  • Ella (Judy Holliday) is an answering service operator (this was way before answering machines existed). She unwisely gets involved in the personal lives of her clients. She gets most involved with playwright Jeffrey Moss (Dean Martin) and ends up meeting him. However she tells him her name is Millicent Scott and they fall in love with each other...but she feels guilty for lying to him. Will their love survive? Well--it's an MGM musical. What do you think?:)

    It's too long, there's some terrible overacting (especially by Frank Gorshin), it moves too slowly and the awareness that this was Holliday's last film (she died of cancer 5 years later) casts sort of a pall over this film but it's worth seeing. The songs are good, it's wonderfully directed by Vincente Minnelli and is in bright vivid color. However the main attraction here is Holliday. She played this role on stage and won a Tony for it and they (wisely) kept her in the film. She was sick when she did this but you would never know it. She was beautiful, bright and full of energy. In her music numbers she gives all she's got and comes roaring off the screen. Also it's her only color film. Worth seeing just for her.
  • drednm3 June 2020
    BELLS ARE RINGING probably seemed rather old fashioned even in 1960. The original Broadway production opened in 1957 and ran for two-and-a-half years (almost 1,000 performances). It produced hit songs like "Just in Time" and "The Party's Over," but its plot and structure come off like sketch comedy. The film stars Judy Holliday (her final film) who re-creates her Tony-winning Broadway success. Her character is based on a real-life woman named Mary Printz, who worked for a famous telephone answering service (pre-voicemail) in New York. The plot has Holliday getting involved in the lives of the customers, especially a song-writer (Dean Martin) who's having career problems after his musical partner leaves. A lame subplot has a bookie using "code" to have the phone-answering girls take and place bets on horse races. Co-stars include Jean Stapleton, Eddie Foy, Jr., Fred Clark, Ruth Storey, Frank Gorshin, Doria Avila, and hammy Dort Clark as a police detective.

    What I found interesting was that so many well-known people showed up in bit parts. Elizabeth Montgomery plays a beatnik reading a book, Hal Linden plays a singer, Donna Douglas is at the party, Madge Blake is in a street scene, Len Lesser (Uncle Leo on SEINFELD is waiting for a street light, Gerry Mulligan (jazz musician) plays the blind date, Tommy Farrell (son of Glenda) is a party guest, Sammy White plays a street vendor, etc.

    Ultimately, the film is too long. Subplots featuring Eddie Foy, Jr. and Frank Gorshin could easily have been trimmed.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I first saw this film when they made a new 35mm CinemaScope/Metrocolor print for the Joseph Papp theater back in the seventies. I thought it was mildly entertaining but very stagy and padded with too many unrelated subplots. At least the color and CinemaScope looked good although the production value made the movie seem as if it had been made a decade earlier. By 1960, many musicals, were being shot at least in part on location (i.e. "Oklahoma!", "South Pacific") rather than on artificial looking studio sets. In terms of the cast, Dean and Gorshon were amusing. Holiday is an acquired taste. I thought she was good in "Born Yesterday" but her dumb blond act seemed a bit stale ten years later and she was too old for this role. The musical numbers ranged from good ("Just in Time") to ridiculous (The betting song, "The Midas Touch"). I recently screened the picture again on TCM and I found it even more dated. It's worth seeing once but don't expect the quality level of the director's earlier pictures.
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