BELLS ARE RINGING [1960 / 2017] [Warner Archive Collection] [Blu-ray] [USA Release] The Screen is singing! M-G-M is bringing Broadway Bell-Ringing of a Musical to the World!

The get-up in New York’s get-up-and-go comes from the switchboard operators of SUSANSWERPHONE. Need a wakeup call? Your appointments? Encouragement from “Mom”? A racetrack bet? It all comes from that dutiful nerve – or noive – center that keeps enterprises enterprising and, maybe, wedding bells ringing.

Judy Holliday reprises her Tony® award winning Broadway role of irrepressible switchboard girl Ella Peterson in a jubilant adaptation that marked her final film and the final teaming of movie-musical titans Arthur Freed and Vincente Minnelli. Dean Martin as Jeffrey Moss co-stars as a struggling playwright in for a surprise when he learns “Mom’s” identity. The sparkling Jule Styne, Betty Comden and Adolph Green score includes Judy Holliday’s heartfelt “The Party’s Over” and the jolly Judy Holliday and Dean Martin duet “Just in Time.” You’ve dialled the right number, musical fans!

FILM FACT No.1: Awards and Nominations: 1961 Academy Awards®: Nominated: Best Music and Scoring of a Musical Picture for André Previn. 1961 Golden Globes: Nominated: Best Motion Picture Musical. Nominated: Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical for Judy Holliday. 1961 Directors Guild of America: Nominated: DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures for Vincente Minnelli. 1961 Grammy Awards: Nominated: Best Soundtrack Album or Recording of Original Cast from a Motion Picture or TV for Betty Comden, Adolph Green, Jule Styne and Jule Styne (film score). 1961 Writers Guild of America: Win: WGA Award (Screen) for Best Written American Musical for Betty Comden and Adolph Green.

FILM FACT No.2: ‘BELLS ARE RINGING’ was based on the Musical Play, by the book and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green and the music was composed by Jule Styne and was presented on stage by The Theatrical Guild on Broadway at the Shubert Theatre on 29th November, 1956. Judy Holliday and Jean Stapleton reprised their stage roles for the film ‘BELLS ARE RINGING.’ Dean Martin took over the male leading role, and the cast also included Eddie Foy Jr., Fred Clark, Frank Gorshin, Hal Linden and Bernie West. Jazz musician Gerry Mulligan, by this time Judy Holliday's lover, plays her disastrous blind date in a cameo role. ‘BELLS ARE RINGING’ was Judy Holliday's final film; because she was already ill when production began. ‘BELLS ARE RINGING’ was also the final musical produced by the M-G-M 'Freed Unit', headed by producer Arthur Freed, which had been responsible for many of the studio's greatest successes, including ‘Meet Me in St. Louis’ [1944], ‘Easter Parade’ [1948], ‘On the Town’ [1949], ‘An American in Paris’ [1951], ‘Singin' in the Rain’ [1952], and ‘Gigi’ [1958]. It was the thirteenth and final collaboration between producer Arthur Freed and director Vincente Minnelli. Several songs from the Broadway production were dropped or replaced. These include, "Salzburg," "Hello, Hello There," "On My Own" (replaced by "Do It Yourself"), "Long Before I Knew You" (replaced by "Better Than a Dream"), "Mu Cha Cha" (filmed but shortened) and "Is it A Crime?" (filmed, but cut before release). A new song for Dean Martin, "My Guiding Star" was also filmed but cut. The latter two songs have been released as extras on the Warner Home Video DVD. The soundtrack album was released by Capitol Records.

Cast: Judy Holliday, Dean Martin, Fred Clark, Eddie Foy Jr., Jean Stapleton, Ruth Storey, Dort Clark, Frank Gorshin, Ralph Roberts, Valerie Allen, Bernard West, Steve Peck, Gerry Mulligan, Martin Abrahams (uncredited), Jimmy Ames (uncredited), Suzanne Ames (uncredited), Nancy Anderson (uncredited), Phil Arnold (uncredited), Jan Arvan (uncredited), Susan Avery (uncredited), Doria Avila (uncredited), Micki Barlow (uncredited), Rayford Barnes (uncredited), Irene Barton (uncredited), Virginia Bates (uncredited), Rodney Bell (uncredited), Nicky Blair (uncredited), Madge Blake (uncredited), Oliver Blake (uncredited), Lela Bliss (uncredited), Gail Bonney (uncredited), Nesdon Booth (uncredited), Leonard Bremen (uncredited),  John Bryant (uncredited), Robert Cabal (uncredited), Aileen Carlyle (uncredited), Sue Casey (uncredited), Helen Chapman (uncredited), Marian Collier (uncredited), Richard Collier (uncredited), Jimmy Cross (uncredited), Lucille Curtis (uncredited), Donna Douglas (uncredited), Michael Dugan (uncredited), Joan Dupuis (uncredited), Tommy Farrell (uncredited), Paul Frees (Singing Voice of Tommy Farrell voice) (uncredited), Leona Gage (uncredited), Jeanne Gerson (uncredited), Bill Giorgio (uncredited), Joe Gray (uncredited), Jacqueline Green (uncredited), Christian Haren (uncredited), John Hart (uncredited), Barbara Hines (uncredited), John Holland (uncredited), Stuart Holmes (uncredited), Bob Hopkins (uncredited), Mark Houston (uncredited), William Hudson (uncredited), John Indrisano (uncredited), Roy Jenson (uncredited), Michael Johnson (uncredited), Morgan Jones (uncredited), Sally Ann Jones (uncredited), June Kirby (uncredited), William Kirschner (uncredited), Marina Koshetz (uncredited), Frank Kreig (uncredited), Gil Lamb (uncredited), Len Lesser Buddy Lewis (uncredited), Hal Linden (Singer of “The Midas Touch”) (uncredited), Margie Liszt (uncredited), Donna Lynne (uncredited), Evan MacNeil (uncredited), Gregg Martell (uncredited), Paul Maxwell (uncredited), Eugene McCarthy (uncredited), Owen McGiveney (uncredited), Joe McTurk (uncredited), John Melfi (uncredited), Shepard Menken (Narrator of Susanswerphone Ad voice) (uncredited), Frank Mitchell (uncredited), Titus Moede (uncredited), Elizabeth Montgomery (uncredited), Jean Moorhead (uncredited), Forbes Murray (uncredited), Milton Parsons (uncredited), Robert Patten (uncredited),   Carole Perkins (uncredited), Ruth Perrott (uncredited), Mae Questel (uncredited), Frank Richards (uncredited), Nina Roman (uncredited), Virginia Rose (uncredited), Don Ross (uncredited), Frank J. Scannell (uncredited), Karen Scott (uncredited), Pamela Searle (uncredited), Maida Severn (uncredited), Della Sharman (uncredited), Olan Soule (uncredited), Helen Spring (uncredited), Tony Springer (uncredited), Joan Staley (Blonde in Susanswerphone Ad) (uncredited), Steve Stevens (uncredited), George E. Stone (uncredited), Herb Vigran (uncredited), Joseph Vitale (uncredited), Nancy Walters (uncredited), Chris Warfield (uncredited), Sandra Warner (uncredited), Sammy White (uncredited), Wendy Wilde (uncredited), Doris Wiss (uncredited) and Wilson Wood (uncredited)

Director: Vincente Minnelli

Producer: Arthur Freed

Screenplay: Betty Comden (screenplay and lyrics) and Adolph Green (screenplay and lyrics)

Composers: Jule Styne (composed film music score) and André Previn (adapted music and conductor)

Orchestration: Alexander Courage and Peter King

Choreographer: Charles O’Curran

Cinematography: Milton R. Krasner, A.S.C. (Director of Photography) 

Image Resolution: 1080p (Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 (CinemaScope Anamorphic)

Audio: English: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
English: 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo Audio

Subtitles: English SDH

Running Time: 125 minutes

Region: All Regions

Number of discs: 1

Studio: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer / Warner Archive Collection

Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: ‘BELLS ARE RINGING’ [1960] was the last musical produced by Arthur Freed. With director Vincente Minnelli on board as director, he couldn’t have picked a more perfect project to say goodbye to the genre with. The story finds Ella Peterson [Judy Holliday] as a switchboard operator for SUSANSWERPHONE who cares so much for the people she helps get out of jams that she doesn’t care for herself. She’s in love with the man at “Plaza-O-Double-Four-Double-Three,” writer Jeffrey Moss [Dean Martin], who thinks she’s an old woman. When they finally meet in person, they do fall in love, but Ella Peterson can’t reveal the truth and gives him a third identity.

When you blend one masterful musical director, one wonderful and delightful actor Dean Martin, one very lovable lead actress Judy Holliday, and a song name-dropping a gaggle of classic Hollywood stars, you get this: ‘BELLS ARE RINGING,’ is a totally delightful and magical film from 1960. Judy Holliday, our most lovable and adorable lead actress, stars as a switchboard operator who takes messages for people when they’re not home. The woman, named Ella Peterson, goes a step beyond with the job; forming over-the-phone friendships with her clients and helping them keep their schedules in check.

One of those clients is Dean Martin who stars as a playwright Jeffrey Moss who desperately needs Ella Peterson [Judy Holliday] for help. Jeffrey Moss sleeps through most of his appointments and would be nowhere without Ella Peterson’s schedule-making, mess-fixing, and appointment-rescheduling. Ella Peterson has kind of fallen for the Jeffrey Moss, but there’s just one problem: playwright Jeffrey Moss thinks Ella Peterson is a 60-year-old woman — because she told him so!

Hijinks ensue as Ella Peterson tries to keep her identity a secret, and tries to evade the suspicions of an investigator who is about two seconds away from figuring out what Ella Peterson really does for all of her clients. ‘BELLS ARE RINGING’ is a delightfully funny film, as bright in its cinematography’s colour palette as it is in mood.

‘BELLS ARE RINGING’ opens with some spectacular aerial shots of Manhattan under its main title credits. It is therefore more than a little disheartening to realize all that remains of the Big Apple in ‘BELLS ARE RINGING,’ a film set on the lower east side of New York. Director Vincente Minnelli skilfully avoiding any direct references thereafter, and centralizing his action mostly within interior settings to create – with varying degrees of success – the uber chic look of this East Coast Mecca; the one unforgivable sin, the staging of the film’s romantic pas deux, “Just in Time” against an obvious papier-mâché backdrop of the George Washington Bridge.

Here is the real home office of the fabled SUSANSWERPHONE messaging service; its reported army of call-screeners, exhibiting “chic good taste,” distilled to three sweaty toilers - Ella Peterson, Sue Summers [Jean Stapleton] and Gwynne [Ruth Storey] in an un-air-conditioned basement flat with unattractive headsets glued to their ears. In tandem, the girls field inquiries for their roster of clientele. It becomes rather obvious Ella Peterson is the favourite and uses the service as a means to disseminate pertinent information on everything from child-rearing to cold remedies to her grateful clients.

Sue Summers encourages prudence. After all, police have been readily cracking down on answering services all over the city after it was discovered a few were being used as fronts for prostitution. Not long thereafter, SUSANSWERPHONE is raided by Inspector Barnes [Dort Clark] and Detective Francis [Ralph Roberts]. Inspector Barnes is gunning for a promotion. When he can find no proof of their complicity in any illegal enterprise, he vows instead to remain vigilant, presumably to catch this trio up to no good.

Although Judy Holliday might best be remembered for her Oscar-winning performance in ‘Born Yesterday,’ it would be great if the film ‘BELLS ARE RINGING’ was considered her signature performance. Considering Judy Holliday played the role on the stage, it’s hard to imagine anyone else playing it. Since the Betty Comden and Adolph Green show relied on some outdated technology, the stage version has fallen into the forgotten corners of Broadway history. It was a smash hit at the time, but aside from a failed 2001 revival, it’s never been successfully staged again. It’s a shame, because the film makes clear that the outdated phone technology isn’t enough to get in the way of what is a very funny Broadway show packed to the brim with standards.

As for the film itself, ‘BELLS ARE RINGING’ feels like the last of the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer musical belonging to the era of fun packed two-hour romps with the classic stars we loved so much. From now on, musicals would become three-hour, bloated affairs exclusively based on Broadway shows and reeking with pretence. The humour of Betty Comden and Adolph Green no longer had a place in the movie musical, which was a shame. ‘BELLS ARE RINGING’ is full of the same wide-eyed magic and humour that the best Arthur Freed musicals have. The party might be over, but there’s always time to discover this gem of a film.


BELLS ARE RINGING (1956) (uncredited) (Music by Jule Styne) (Lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green) [Performed by M-G-M Studio Orchestra and Chorus during the opening credits]

IT’S A PERFECT RELATIONSHIP (1956) (uncredited) (Music by Jule Styne) (Lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green) [Performed by Judy Holliday]

DO IT YOURSELF (1956) (uncredited) (Music by Jule Styne) (Lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green) [Performed by Dean Martin]

IT’S A SIMPLE LITTLE SYSTEM (1956) (uncredited) (Music by Jule Styne) (Lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green) [Performed by Eddie Foy Jr. and Chorus]

BETTER THAN A DREAM (1956) (uncredited) (Music by Jule Styne) (Lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green) [Performed by Judy Holliday and Dean Martin]

I MET A GIRL (1956) (uncredited) (Music by Jule Styne) (Lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green) [Performed by Dean Martin and Chorus]

MU CHA CHA (1956) (uncredited) (Music by Jule Styne) (Lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green) [Performed by Judy Holliday, Doria Avila and Ruth Storey]

JUST IN TIME (1956) (uncredited) (Music by Jule Styne) (Lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green) [Played also as dance music] [Performed by Dean Martin, Judy Holliday and Chorus]

DROP THAT NAME (1956) (uncredited) (Music by Jule Styne) (Lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green) [Performed by Judy Holliday and Chorus]

THE PARTY’S OVER (1956) (uncredited) (Music by Jule Styne) (Lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green) [Performed by Judy Holliday and Chorus]

THE MIDAS TOUCH (1956) (uncredited) (Music by Jule Styne) (Lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green) [Performed by Hal Linden and Chorus]

I’M GOING BACK (1956) (uncredited) (Music by Jule Styne) (Lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green) [Performed by Judy Holliday]

BELLS ARE RINGING (Reprise) (1956) (uncredited) (Music by Jule Styne) (Lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green) [Performed by Judy Holliday and Dean Martin and the M-G-M Studio Orchestra and Chorus during the end of the film]

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Blu-ray Image Quality – Warner Archive Collection presents us the film ‘BELLS ARE RINGING’ with a brand new 1080p remastered vivid Metrocolor (aka Eastmancolor) image and shot on 4-perf 35mm film with CinemaScope anamorphic lenses, and this Blu-ray disc is up to Warner Archive Collection’s usual high standards; colours are vibrant, contrast bang on, a light smattering of grain and oodles of fine detail throughout. The main titles, shot under less than studio-controlled lighting conditions have a slightly softer quality; the plum-coloured titles razor-sharp and glowing.  While not as rich as traditional Technicolor, whereas Metrocolor is nevertheless is quite eye-popping. Dissolves between scenes exhibit transitional amplification of grain in tandem with loss of colour density, but this is to be expected. Contrast is on point: blacks are rich, deep and solid; whites, clean and bright, though never blooming. Ella Peterson’s red Traviata ball gown is a total wow of saturation maxed out with some startling detail to boot.

Blu-ray Audio Quality – Warner Archive Collection brings us the film ‘BELLS ARE RINGING’ in a newly remastered 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio experience, and was presented in cinemas with a 4-track magnetic surround sound track and outperforms anything we have heard in the past and the best reason to enjoy ‘BELLS ARE RINGING’ that is most welcomed. André Previn’s lush orchestral scoring sounds great and vocals are particularly clean and bright. The 5.1 mix was sourced from original recording session masters, plus the dialogue and effects track. The expanded listening space gives ample breathing room to André Previn's Oscar-nominated scoring, so that the instrumentation effectively surrounds and supports the singers' performances. The dialogue is clearly and crisply rendered, as are critical effects such as ringing telephones. The dynamic range is impressive for a film that's almost 60 years old.

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Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:

Special Feature: Bells Are Ringing: Just in Time [2005] [1080p] [1.37:1] [11:15] This short film was made by Turner Entertainment, about the making of the 1960 musical comedy romance, ‘BELLS ARE RINGING.’ Hal Linden is the MC [master of ceremonies] and narrates. It has some film clips and interviews, especially with the great writing team from the Broadway musical and the film. Betty Comden and Adolph Green tell us how some of their creative work came about. Hal Linden also highlighted Judy Holliday's wonderful stage and film career and appeared on the Broadway show “Bells Are Ringing” as the telephone operator and that may have been the genesis of putting Judy Holliday in the film playing that character. Judy Holliday might have given us many more wonderful films but for her death at 43 from cancer. Judy Holliday was extremely ill with cancer when the film was being made. Jean Stapleton and Frank Gorshin comment on the film and working with Judy Holliday. Judy Holliday was known, respected and loved for her incredible generosity. Hal Linden notes that this was the last M-G-M musical for Vincent Minelli and Arthur Freed. Serious movie fans, especially the wonderful Judy Holliday, will enjoy this short for its history and information. We get to see lots of rare black-and-white promotional photos from the film ‘BELLS ARE RINGING.’ We also get a plethora of clips from the ‘BELLS ARE RINGING.’ We also get a short rare clip from the American Cancer Society promotional film with Judy Holliday making the public awareness of cancer and is so ironic that of course later on Judy Holiday passes away from cancer, five years after the film was released. Contributors include: Hal Linden [Jeffrey Moss on Broadway], Betty Comden [screenplay/lyrist] (archive footage), Adolph Green [screenplay/lyrist] (archive footage) and Frank Gorshin [Blake Barton].

Special Feature: Outtakes: Here we get to view three songs that were cut from the final film ‘BELLS ARE RINGING’ and they are as follows:

“Is It a Crime?” [Judy Holliday and Dort Clark] [1960] [1080p] [2.35:1] [5:44]

“The Midas Touch” Alternate Take [Hal Linden and cast] [1960] [1080p] [2.35:1] [4:14]
“My Guiding Star” [Dean martin] [1960] [1080p] [2.35:1] [1:56]

Theatrical Trailer [1960] [10809] [2.35:1] [3:01] This is the Original Theatrical trailer for the film ‘BELLS ARE RINGING,’ where they say “Now what in the world could be romantic about an answering service?”

Finally, in hindsight, the best to be said for the film ‘BELLS ARE RINGING,’ is that it remains the least pretentious, and arguably, the most fun-loving film of M-G-M’s latter spate of Cinemascope spectacles, that gives you real glossy grandiose impressive and imposing “glorious Metrocolor” colour and wonderful “Stereophonic sound.” ‘BELLS ARE RINGING’ gave audiences a final glimpse into what the studio was capable of when the right creative personnel could still be assembled at a moment’s notice – all of them under contract. Most of the action in ‘BELLS ARE RINGING,’ is set around the backdrop of SUSANSWERPHONE’s dowdy, cluttered and dusty basement apartment office. Yet the ‘BELLS ARE RINGING’ is something of a sad epitaph to a particular way of making films and movie musicals in particular at M-G-M and no one could have foreseen this would be the last collaboration between Vincente Minnelli and Arthur Freed. With the film ‘BELLS ARE RINGING,’ you wouldn't know it from her sterling performance in the film, but when Judy Holliday made ‘BELLS ARE RINGING,’ Judy Holliday was already  suffering from cancer that would end her life five years after the film’s release at the age of 43. The world lost a truly wonderful peerless comedienne far too early, but at least Judy Holliday was able to complete one film that captured the full range of her unique comedic abilities. Warner Archive Collection has brought Judy Holliday's last and, arguably, the best work to the Blu-ray format in all its glorious Metrocolor and is a definite must own Blu-ray disc to have in your collection. Very Highly Recommended!

Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Aficionado 
Le Cinema Paradiso 
United Kingdom

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