From the page to the stage to film and back again, AUNTIE MAME (1958) began life as a bestselling novel by Patrick Dennis before treading the boards on Broadway for 639 hit performances. Extolling her mantra of “live, live, LIVE,” the irreverent escapades of everyone’s favorite madcap aunt from Beekman Place features a feast of comic vignettes that showcase the comedic talents of its legendary leading lady, Rosalind Russell.
AUNTIE MAME was the first play I ever saw as a freshman in high school. Sure, it had all the trappings of a high school production, but when Mame came stumbling out in her riding boots for the fox hunt, I was hooked.
When I was asked to write the liner notes for Film Score Monthly’s CD last year, it allowed me the chance to revisit one of my favorite films. While Roz has deservedly received the lion’s share of the praise for the film, Bronislau Kaper’s delightful score often gets overlooked.
Anchored by a lilting waltz theme for the title character that is as “swellegant” as Mame herself, the score contains sparkling orchestrations, vibrant conducting from musical director Ray Heindorf, and delightful comedic cues. Kaper’s score provides the film with an emotional depth that makes it a far richer experience than the stage version.
To quote one of Mame’s most famous lines: “Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death.” While AUNTIE MAME provides a buffet of memorable characters, Kaper’s score brings a musical feast of delicious melodies to the menu.