“Haul out the holly…”
You know how sometimes people get a Christmas gift that they don’t like but you think is perfect? That is the sentiment that some people have over 1974’s notorious dud Mame. Lucille Ball stars in the lavish big screen version of the smash Broadway musical — itself based on Patrick Dennis’ best seller Auntie Mame (which was previously adapted for the movies in 1958). The famed comedienne was not known for her vocal stylings, which is a huge reason why audiences stayed away. But honestly, even though she doesn’t possess the singing talent of Angela Lansbury, who debuted the role on Broadway, Ball’s warm, truthful performance and comedic background made her a perfect fit for the hurricane of a character that Auntie Mame is. This role was a nice change of pace for Ball, and it’s a shame that the film didn’t catch on because, your opinion on the dubious singing aside, it did allow her to show that just was more than just TV’s Lucy.
The musical highlight of the film is a rousing performance on the Yuletide staple “We Need a Little Christmas.” It is featured above to remind you that any visit from Mame is indeed a welcome one.
This article originally ran in 2019 and is being reprinted today as part of our ongoing holiday celebrations.