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HELLO, DOLLY! (1969)

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Discussion before

An old-fashioned, lavish Hollywood musical wasn’t a draw with the younger audiences of 1969, but over the past 50 years, through a successful home video release and Bette Midler’s Broadway revival, this lovingly made film has found its audience. Cast after positive word-of-mouth from the set of Funny Girl (1968), Barbra Streisand delivers an energetic star turn as Dolly, the conniving widow who sets out to turn a matchmaking gig for wealthy merchant Horace Vandergelder (Walter Matthau) into a life of wedded bliss. Whether delivering a big production number like “Before the Parade Passes By,” vamping Matthau with “So Long, Dearie” or pouring her heart into a romantic ballad like “Love Is Only Love,” Streisand is in top form here. And when she and Louis Armstrong (in his last film appearance) team for the title song, it’s sheer magic. Gene Kelly, no stranger to the Golden Age musical, directed on the grand scale, with Michael Kidd choreographing on sets that recreated turn-of-the-century New York. The film won Oscars for art direction, sound and scoring, but was so expensive that even though it was one of the year’s top five box-office attractions, it lost money. (d. Gene Kelly, 146m, DCP)

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