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Paramount Studios presents
The Matchmaker (1958)

"Life is never quite interesting enough. You people who come to the movies know that. So I manage things a little. Nature isn't satisfactory, quite, and so it has to be corrected. So I put my hand in here and my hand in there."
- Dolly "Gallagher" Levi (Shirley Booth)

Review By: Mark Zimmer  
Published: January 17, 2005

Stars: Shirley Booth, Anthony Perkins, Shirley Maclaine, Paul Ford
Other Stars: Robert Morse, Perry Wilson, Wallace Ford
Director: Joseph Anthony

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 01h:40m:46s
Release Date: January 18, 2005
UPC: 097360573640
Genre: romantic comedy

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A- B+B+B+ D-

DVD Review

Thornton Wilder is renowned for changing the character of the stage with Our Town and its innovative narrative techniques. In his play of The Matchmaker, Wilder gave the lead characters a number of Shakespearean direct asides, which was hardly typical in theater. That doesn't always translate well to the screen, but the film is gently entertaining nonetheless.

Dolly Levi (Shirley Booth) is a busybody matchmaker, among other dubious professions, in 1884 Yonkers. Her current project is uniting sixtyish but wealthy Horace Vandergelder(Paul Ford) with New York City milliner Irene Molloy (Shirley Maclaine). Leaving his clerks, Cornelius Hackl (Anthony Perkins) and Barnaby Tucker (Robert Morse), in charge of the general store as he goes off to marry Irene. But the clerks have plans of their own, closing up shop and heading to the city themselves to find romance. As luck would have it, they find themselves in Irene's millinery shop, where she and Cornelius immediately find an attraction to each other. It doesn't help matters any when Cornelius and Barnaby pretend to also be rich men in order to impress Irene and her friend Minnie (Perry Wilson).

The asides don't really work, especially since the players are called upon to completely break character and address modern-day audiences as such, despite their 19th-century milieu. The result heightens the artificiality to the point of being distracting, although one does get used to the effect after a bit. It helps that most of the asides are rather clever, so at least the tempered impact is worth the exercise for the most part.

Booth is delightful as the scheming Dolly; she's much more enjoyable than the abrasive portrayal by Barbra Streisand in the musical made a few years later. Perkins plays pretty well as the innocent in way over his head, to the point that it's actually possible to forget him appearing as Norman Bates a few years later. He occasionally gets a little broad with the comedy, but on the whole it works pretty well. Maclaine is far less annoying than usual, turning in a decent performance that lacks much of the whininess that she relies upon when playing across from Jack Lemmon. A young Robert Morse is memorable as the sidekick Barnaby. Veteran actor Wallace Ford also provides a nifty bit as Vandergelder's new apprentice; though he's only got about three scenes the old ham steals them all.

Most romantic comedies have something of the sitcom air to them as unlikely coincidences and unwise deceptions combine to create humor. But this has a sweet air from its period setting that helps make it a bit more than just the pat situations that have been seen hundreds of times before.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.78:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The VistaVision picture is presented in mildly-cropped 1.78:1 ratio. The source print is quite lovely, with excellent greyscale and plenty of detail and texture. On the down side, there's minor dot crawl and aliasing as well as some modest compression ringing visible at times. But on the whole it looks quite fine.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: The 2.0 mono track is fairly clean, with mild hiss and noise that's not in the least distracting. Adolph Deutsch's score is mostly put together from 19th-century pieces such as Strauss waltzes, and they sound relatively good for the period as well, without shrillness but not much in the way of deep bass.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Packaging: generic plastic keepcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: There are no extras whatsoever. Chaptering is a little on the thin side.

Extras Grade: D-


Final Comments

A fun little romance with some decent wit. The source print is lovely but there are some minor compression issues. No extras at all.


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