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Theatre / Mame

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"You coax the blues right out of the horn, Mame
You charm the husk right off of the corn, Mame..."

A 1966 musical with a book by Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee and music by Jerry Herman, Mame debuted on Broadway with Angela Lansbury starring in the title role.

Based on the Auntie Mame novels by Patrick Dennis, it tells of the adventures of a young boy, orphaned by the death of his father, being raised as the ward of his wealthy, eccentric, and free-spirited aunt during The Great Depression.

It was adapted into a 1974 film starring Lucille Ball (in her last big-screen performance), with Bea Arthur and Jane Connell both reprising their stage roles as Vera Charles and Agnes Gooch respectively. Gene Saks, who'd directed the Broadway production, also helmed the film version.

The musical and film contain examples of:

  • Beautiful All Along: The 1974 film has Mame and Vera give Agnes a makeover.
  • Character Title
  • Christmas Creep: In the song "We Need a Little Christmas", Mame deliberately applies this, since she's at a low point in her life (having gotten wiped out in the 1929 stock market crash) and needs Christmas to cheer her up. Her nephew Patrick protests, "But, Auntie Mame, it's one week past Thanksgiving Day now!", implying that it's far too early to be getting into holiday festivities. Since around the Turn of the Millennium that lyric sometimes gets changed to "one week from (or 'til) Thanksgiving Day", as even most critics of Christmas Creep would not consider any time post-Thanksgiving to be particularly early by modern-day standards.
  • Christmas Songs: "We Need a Little Christmas", now a holiday standard, was introduced here.
  • Cool Uncle: Auntie Mame is a female version.
  • Dreaming of a White Christmas: Immediately after the "We Need a Little Christmas" number in the film version, it starts snowing. (True, not entirely unheard-of for New York in November, but still...)
  • The Eleven O'Clock Number: "If He Walked into My Life"
  • Gaussian Girl: In the 1974 film, Lucille Ball is frequently shot in soft focus to cover for the fact that she was in her early 60s; this is especially jarring when the camera alternates between close-ups of her and much sharper close-ups of her co-stars.
  • Guess Who I'm Marrying?: Patrick is due to be married to Gloria Upson, whom Mame finds, along with her parents, to be boring and bigoted.
  • Hippie Teacher: In the movie version of the song, "Open a New Window", we see Mame taking her nephew to many different schools with different educational philosophies, but she promptly pulls him out of an all-nude, all-boys' school headed by a nude headmaster.
  • Movie Bonus Song: "Loving You", added to give third-billed Robert Preston's Beauregarde a solo and a little more screen time.
  • One-Word Title
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: After Mame ruins her Grand Finale, Vera gives one to her that's short and nuanced.
    Vera: I have a REAL astronomical discovery for you: The Man in the Moon is a BITCH!
  • Shout-Out / Take That!: To Coco Chanel. Vera talks up her brilliance in fashion design but also mutters that she would "sell her own mother if she could".
  • The Show Must Go Wrong: Vera Charles invites Mame to be in her "terribly modern operetta" about a lady astronomer as the singing moon-lady. Unfortunately, Mame comes in at the wrong time and then falls off the moon, ruining the whole show. The exact details vary between productions, but it's bad enough that Mame gets fired right after the curtain call.
  • Time-Shifted Actor: The musical follows Patrick Dennis, both as a 10 year-old boy and as a young adult. As such, there are two actors. And they sing a duet at the start of act 2.
  • Title Theme Tune: Sung to Mame after she (accidentally) wins the fox hunt toward the end of Act 1.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Mame and Vera not only embody this trope, but sing a song about it: "Bosom Buddies," where they claim they can get away with insulting each other because only a bosom buddy would be so truthful.