Directed by Mervyn LeRoy
Written by Leonard Spigelglass based on the stage play book by Arthur Laurents, lyrics by Steven Sondheim and the memoirs of Gypsy Rose Lee
Mervyn LeRoy Productions Inc.
Repeat viewing/Netflix rental
I enjoyed watching this long-time favorite so much that I watched the video of a West End production immediately thereafter.
This was based on Gypsy Rose Lee’s fictionalized version of her own life. Mama Rose (Rosalind Russell) is the stage mother supreme. She has all her considerable hopes pinned on her youngest girl, billed as Baby June. She keeps hoping that the elder daughter Louise will reveal a well-hidden talent. Early on, Rose acquires management and a boyfriend in the form of Herbie (Karl Malden), who sincerely loves Rose and her family. At first things go well.
But as the little girls age vaudeville is also breathing its last gasps. When the act is mistakenly booked at a burlesque house, Rose may finally be ready to give up. It is then Louise (Natalie Wood) reveals her special talent.
I love everything about this. Rosalind Russell is the perfect actress for her part – pushy yet lovable. The only flaw in the production is that her singing voice could be better. The Imelda Staunton version I watched next showed what a powerhouse singer could do with the part. I just discovered that my all-time favorite version – Bette Midler’s – is available on YouTube. I just might watch that today instead of Dog Star Man.