Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Morton DaCosta|
|Produced by||Morton DaCosta|
|Written by||Betty Comden
based on the play by Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee and the novel by Patrick Dennis
|Music by||Bronislau Kaper|
|Editing by||William H. Ziegler|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
|Running time||143 minutes|
|Box office||$9 million (est. US/ Canada rentals)|
Auntie Mame is a 1958 comedy film based on the novel by Patrick Dennis and its theatrical adaptation by Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee. This film version stars Rosalind Russell and was directed by Morton DaCosta. Mame, a musical version of the story, appeared on Broadway and was later made into a 1974 film starring Lucille Ball as the title character.
Patrick Dennis (Jan Handzlik and Roger Smith), orphaned in 1928 when his father unexpectedly dies, is placed in the care of Mame Dennis (Rosalind Russell), his father's sister, who lives on Beekman Place in Manhattan. Mame is a flamboyant, exuberant woman, who hosts frequent parties with eclectic, bohemian guests. Patrick is quickly introduced to his aunt's free-spirited and eccentric lifestyle, including Vera Charles (Coral Browne), a Broadway actress, who spends many of her nights passed out drunk in Mame's guest room. Mame's frequently repeated motto is "Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death!"
Since Patrick's father was a wealthy man at the time of his death, Patrick's inheritance comes with a trustee, Mr. Dwight Babcock (Fred Clark). Mr. Babcock disapproves of Mame's lifestyle (as did her brother Edwin) and wants to interject decorum and discipline in Patrick's life. Mame has Patrick enrolled at a progressive school run by a friend of hers, Acacius Page (Henry Brandon). Mr. Babcock insists that Patrick be enrolled at Bixby's, a nearby boy's prep school. When he finds out that Mame has not enrolled Patrick at Bixby's, he issues an order: Patrick is to go to St. Boniface boarding school and Mame will only see him at the holidays and during the summer.
When Mame's investments are lost in the stock market crash of 1929, she takes a series of jobs—stage acting, telephone operator, sales girl at Macy's—that all end disastrously. At her sales job at Macy's, she meets a man named Beauregard Burnside (Forrest Tucker), a rich oil man from the South. He's immediately smitten with her and she falls in love with him as well. Mame and Patrick visit Beau's family estate in Georgia. Sally Cato (Brook Byron), who's in love with Beau, tries to sabotage Mame's relationship with Beau. She organizes a fox hunt, suspecting Mame is lying about being a horsewoman (and rightly so) and gives Mame a wild horse. Mame manages to stay on the horse and catches the fox at the end. Beau proposes to her on the spot in front of his family.
For their honeymoon, Beau and Mame travel around the world. Mame is sad about leaving Patrick, but they keep in touch through letters and frequent visits during holidays. Through their correspondence, Mame gets a sense that Patrick is growing into a stuffy, conventional man, and she worries for him. When Beau dies while they are climbing the Matterhorn, Mame comes home. Patrick surprises her by installing a dictating machine and a secretary, Agnes Gooch (Peggy Cass), for her convenience. He and her friends persuade her to write her autobiography.
Patrick and Lindsay Woolsey (Patric Knowles), a friend of Mame's, arrange for a collaborator (and ghost writer) for Mame, Brian O'Bannion (Robin Hughes). He is initially charming and Mame is smitten, however it soon becomes clear that O'Bannion is a hack and using Mame as a meal ticket; Mame dictates her life to Agnes and both of them are hard at work on her autobiography, while O'Bannion does nothing but eat and take advantage of Mame's generosity. One day, as he attempts to become romantic with Mame (who wants nothing to do with him at this point), Patrick walks in on them and disapproves. He announces that he has a girlfriend, Gloria (Joanna Barnes), and wants to bring her over to meet Mame. He cautions Mame to act responsibly while Gloria is there. She calls him beastly and he almost leaves, but at the last minute Mame says she will do whatever he wants to make him and Gloria happy.
Patrick thanks her for agreeing to behave and leaves to bring Gloria. Meanwhile, O'Bannion insists Mame get dressed for a party to meet movie producers interested in Mame's autobiography. Mame instead dresses the dowdy Agnes up and tells O'Bannion that Agnes is an heiress merely doing secretarial work for "life experience." O'Bannion's greed kicks in and he escorts Agnes to the party in Mame's place. When Agnes returns the next day, she is disheveled and remembers very little of her night with O'Bannion—only that she drank heavily and thinks she saw a movie with a wedding scene in it.
Patrick brings Gloria over, but Mame is horrified to see she is nothing more than a spoiled rich girl, pretentious and completely lacking in substance. Against Patrick's wishes, she goes to visit Gloria's family in a Connecticut gated community, where they express anti-Semitic views. Her parents (Lee Patrick and Willard Waterman), although outwardly friendly, are just like Gloria, and Mame finds them repulsive.
Mame arranges a dinner party at her apartment and she invites Gloria, her parents, and Mr. Babcock...and a few of Mame's closest friends, including Vera, Lindsay, and Acacius (the man who runs the progressive school Patrick used to attend). On the night of the party, Patrick meets Pegeen (Pippa Scott), Mame's new secretary—Agnes is now several months pregnant due to her night with O'Bannion and staying with Mame in "her friendless condition." Everything about the evening is a carefully planned disaster: the food, the drink, the furniture, and the company. Lindsay surprises the attendees with the galleys from Mame's autobiography; the ribald content leads Gloria to insult the other attendees; Patrick defends them, attacking Gloria's friends instead. In a bizarre twist, the release of the book prompts a telegram from O'Bannion, demanding his efforts be rewarded, and announcing that Agnes is his wife and can substantiate his claims. The evening ends with Babcock insulting and demeaning Mame, but Mame is unfazed and responds in her typical witty manner.
Cut to several years later, where Mame and Lindsay, and Patrick and Pegeen, are now married couples. Patrick and Pegeen's son Michael wants to travel with Mame on her trip to India. The two of them wear down Patrick and Pegeen's objections, and the movie fades away as Mame tells Michael of all the wondrous sights they will see.
Awards and honors 
The film was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Actress in a Leading Role (Rosalind Russell); Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Peggy Cass); Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Black-and-White or Color (Malcolm Bert and George James Hopkins); Best Cinematography, Color; Best Film Editing; and Best Picture. It was also nominated for three Golden Globes of which it won two.
American Film Institute recognition
- 2000: AFI's 100 Years... 100 Laughs #94
- 2005: AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movie Quotes #93
- "Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death!"
- Rosalind Russell as Mame Dennis
- Forrest Tucker as Beauregard Jackson Pickett Burnside
- Coral Browne as Vera Charles
- Fred Clark as Dwight Babcock
- Roger Smith as Patrick Dennis – older
- Patric Knowles as Lindsay Woolsey
- Peggy Cass as Agnes Gooch
- Jan Handzlik as Patrick Dennis – younger
- Joanna Barnes as Gloria Upson
- Pippa Scott as Pegeen Ryan
- Lee Patrick as Doris Upson
- Willard Waterman as Claude Upson
- Robin Hughes as Brian O'Bannion
- Connie Gilchrist as Norah Muldoon
- Yuki Shimoda as Ito
- Brook Byron as Sally Cato MacDougall
- Carol Veazie as Mrs. Burnside
- Henry Brandon as Acacius Page
Production crew 
- Production Design – Malcolm C. Bert
- Art Direction – Malcolm C. Bert
- Set Decoration – George James Hopkins
- Costume Design – Orry-Kelly
- Makeup Supervisor – Gordon Bau
- Makeup – Gene Hibbs
- Hair stylist – Myrl Stoltz
- Makeup – Robert J. Schiffer
- Assistant Director – Joseph Don Page
- Art – interior – Robert Hanley
- Storyboard – Harold Michelson
- Sound Department – M.A. Merrick
- Stunts – Roydon Clark, Bob Herron, Dick Hudkins, Boyd 'Red' Morgan, Audrey Scott, Dean Smith
- Stage producers – Lawrence Carr & Robert Fryer
- Music supervisor – Ray Heindorf
Box office performance 
This film was the #1 moneymaker of 1959, earning a net profit of $8,800,000.
See also 
- "1959: Probable Domestic Take", Variety, 6 January 1960 p 34
- "NY Times: Auntie Mame". NY Times. Retrieved 2008-12-23.
- Steinberg, Cobbett (1980). Film Facts. New York: Facts on File, Inc. p. 23. ISBN 0-87196-313-2. When a film is released late in a calendar year (October to December), its income is reported in the following year's compendium, unless the film made a particularly fast impact (p. 17)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Auntie Mame (film)|
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Auntie Mame (film)|
- Auntie Mame at the American Film Institute Catalog
- Auntie Mame at the Internet Movie Database
- Auntie Mame at AllRovi
- Auntie Mame at the TCM Movie Database
- Auntie Mame at Rotten Tomatoes