Hello Dolly! (1969) Gene Kelly

Production Budget: $25 million


Hello Dolly! was a part of Fox’s attempt to cash in on The Sound of Music’s success. Three large scale movies were made: Doctor Dolittle, Star, and Hello Dolly. Even though I don’t have the numbers for Dolly, all three movies were a financial failure and it took Fox several years to get over the loss. One of the more amusing stories I read was about the animosity between Barbara Streisand and Walter Matthau. They apparently despised one another and would only be on set when they had to. Matthau hated her so much there is another story about how he and co-star Michael Crawford going to a horse race. Matthau wouldn’t bet on a horse called Hello Dolly because it reminded him of Streisand and when Crawford won a bet on that horse, Matthau refused to acknowledge him publicly after it (IMDb).


The story is about matchmaker for hire Dolly Levi (Barbara Streisand). She was hired by the rich Horace Vandergelder (Walter Matthau) to get him married to another woman, but Dolly wants to marry Vandergelder for herself. Meanwhile, Dolly helps two of Vandergelder’s shop clerks have a fun night on the town and Vandergelder’s niece get married.


I would always read about filmmaking in the 70’s and the various New Waves and about how they were rebelling against the old Hollywood. I would read that, but I don’t think I fully understood until I finally saw Hello Dolly! This is the most phoney movie I have seen in a long long time. Everything about this movie is fake and false. There are no genuine emotions, only people badly acting emotions. Like a defective stepford wife, they portray creepy toothy grins that show more an alien understanding of happiness than anything real. The characters talk and talk and talk and talk and talk over the most useless crap. Much like Ichi the Killer, I felt like sticking pins in my ears to make the pain go away. This is like four hours of Three’s Company crammed into a two and a half hour movie; its too much crap crammed in too long a run time for a movie. Why should I care about any of these people? Dolly is an annoying gold digger. She only wants Vandergelder for his money. Vandergelder is uncharismatic cock who deserves major league comeuppance. We are supposed to root for two shallow unappealing douchebags to get together. Oh rejoice!


I don’t know if I’m crazy here. Apparently this movie is well liked on IMDb (almost a 7/10 user rating) as well as being prominently featured on the Pixar movie Wall E. But nothing in this movie worked for me: there is no story, there are no likable characters, and the cast is inconsistent to say the least. Walter Matthau is only beat out by Lee Marvin in Paint Your Wagon as an actor I would least like to see in a musical. Yeah, some of the songs are enjoyable, but after two and a half hours of nothing happening, I just wanted the pain to go away. I understand that stage productions need to be long. After all, the customers are buying more expensive tickets and want to feel like they are getting their moneys worth. However I would love to see a movie musical that doesn’t overstay its welcome and moves at a quick pace.


I don’t think I’m a grinch. I have liked many a movie musical (although I admit its my least favorite genre) even bombs I previously reviewed. Hello Dolly just got under my skin and makes me hate the Hollywood of the time. It has sparked rebellious tendencies. It makes me want to get a tattoo, shave my head into a mohawk, read about Che Guevara, and watch some Lars von Trier. Chaos reigns!



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