Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Movies--6--Bells are Ringing

I was reminded of this little gem of a movie musical by an article by Pat Buchanan entitled "The Party's Over" about the recent financial debacle. I will refer to the article later because it is so completely different than the party's being over in this movie.

The movie is about a girlnamed Ella Peterson, played by Judy Holliday, who works as a switchboard operator for an answering service. However, she goes beyond just answering the phone for the clients by giving them advice and in other ways getting involved with their concerns. For example, one of the clients uses her to tell her son what Santa Claus would like him to do. Her extra involvement with the clients is a concern of her boss, played by Jean Stapleton. As an aside, there must be at least twenty years separating this movie from "You've Got Mail" which also features Jean Stapleton, but she looks (and acts) the same in both. Our heroine is particularly concerned about a client who apparently is having trouble meeting a committment to write a play. He is continually getting calls demanding to know how the writing is coming--calls which he does not return. Finally, Ella decides to take matter into her own hands and, finding his address in company records, go and sits on him, initially literally and then figuratively, until he begins work on his play. For some reason, she decides that her own name is too prosaic, so she tells the playwright, played by Dean Martin, that her name is Mellissante Scott. They develop, first a working relationship and then a romantic attachment. He invites her to a party hosted by the producer of his play. The party is attended by people who clearly hope to get "in the big time" by dropping names of famous people with whom they supposedly associate. They sing a very clever song about the name-dropping bit. But while at the party, Ella realizes that these are not her kind of people. She is not, after all, "Mellissante Scott", she is plain old Ella Peterson. In this moment of self-recognition, she writes the playwright a "good-bye" note, leaves the party, and as she returns to her work, she sings the beautiful, plaintive ballad, "The Party's Over". Of course, it all works out in the end, because she is the kind of person for whom the party is never over, it is just a different kind of party--the party of always helping and serving people. As the movie ends we see Dean Martin and Judy Holliday walking hand in hand on their way to the real party--a party that will undoubtedly involve many of clean-up chores she mentions in her song, but they will, besides dirty dishes most likely also involve dirty diapers, but there will be much of happiness as well as some heart ache.

Which brings me back to Pat Buchanan. The "party" to which he refers is the collapse of many of the financial institutions of late. But unlike Ella, Pat has had no realization of who he really is. He is, after all, one of the big-names who enjoys dropping even bigger names. His article is not plaintive, it is bitter. He clearly does not want the party to end. He is doubtlessly convinced that with bigger tariffs and more restrictions and other government action, the party can continue. For him and his type, almost anyone who sees the solutions to life's problems in the granting of special benefits through law, the real party will never really begin.

1 comment:

Nathaniel Gee said...

This is my favorite movie review so far. It will have to see the movie. Thanks for all you write.