If you’re in the mood for an old-fashioned romantic comedy with music that will have you humming the tunes for days, check out the new Blu-ray release of “Bells are Ringing” from the Warner Archive Collection. This 1960 movie stars actress/comedian/singer Judy Holliday along with Dean Martin.
In 1960, we didn’t have answering machines so there were answering services. Susanswerphone is a service owned by, you guessed it, a woman named Sue (Jean Stapleton). Her cousin Ella (Holliday) is a switchboard operator who takes a personal interest in the clients. Let’s just say she meddles but in a well-meaning way.
Jeffrey Moss (Martin) is a writer who can’t get his mind on his work. He loves women and booze but if he doesn’t finish this latest project, his career will be over.
Sue’s boyfriend Otto (Eddie Foy Jr.) is an unscrupulous bookie that dupes Sue into letting him run his “music business” out of her office. She thinks they are taking orders for record albums but, in fact, they are taking bets on horses.
When Jeffrey won’t answer his phone and she knows he is on a deadline, Ella goes over to his apartment to nudge him back to work. He has no idea she is the sweet little old woman from his answering service whom he calls “Mom”. Ella proves to be his muse and he gets back to work. Meanwhile, the two fall in love.
Holliday and Martin sing a fun duet, “Just in Time,” that will have viewers singing and dancing to the tune for days. Holliday sings “The Party’s Over” and some other delightful tunes. This film is an adaptation of the Tony-winning Broadway play in which Holliday originated the role of Ella.
There is a bonus feature about the making of the film. This was Holliday’s final film before her death. Hal Linden costarred in the Broadway version of the film and has a small role in the movie. In a bonus feature, he discusses this role and the song he sings, “The Midas Touch.”
Is this story dated? Yes. Is it a bit corny? Yes. Is it fun and enjoyable? Absolutely. The new Blu-ray release can be ordered from the Warner website http://www.wbshop.com.