AMAD: THE MATCHMAKER (1958)
Life is never quite interesting enough. You people who come to the movies know that.
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with today’s installment of A Movie A Day. [For those now joining us, A Movie A Day is my attempt at filling in gaps in my film knowledge. My DVD collection is thousands strong, many of them films I haven’t seen yet, but picked up as I scoured used DVD stores. Each day I’ll pull a previously unseen film from my collection and discuss it here. Each movie will have some sort of connection to the one before it, be it cast or crew member.] Today we find ourselves watching 1958’s absurd comedy THE MATCHMAKER, jumping from yesterday’s suspense-thriller SHADOW OF A DOUBT via famous playwrite Thornton Wilder, who scriped Hitchcock’s film and originated the play THE MATCHMAKER is based on. Beyond any shadow of a doubt (cute, huh?) this film is one of the most pleasant surprises of the list so far. I can’t believe it’s not as well known as some of the films on this list. I picked it up on a lark, pretty much only for the curiocity factor of seeing a pre-PSYCHO Anthony Perkins in what looked to be a saccharine headach of a film. I mean look at the DVD cover up above. THE MATCHMAKER is one of the smartest and funniest romantic comedies I’ve ever seen. And I’m a man who loves me a good romantic comedy. Directed by Joseph Anthony and starring Perkins, Shirley MacLaine, Paul Ford, Robert Morse and, finally, Shirley Booth as the title character, this film has style, charm, wit, slapstick comedy, character comedy, hilarious dialogue, wonderful lines and is genuinely decades ahead of its time. The characters all break the fourth wall, you see. I thought it was a trick at first, a clever way to introduce us to the characters when we get one long, complicated crane shot going through the busy 1800s Yonkers square stopping at each of our group as they introduce themselves and their part in the story, stopping in their daily life like they are bumping into an old friend. And to further awesome up the movie, they even acknowledge that they’re in a movie. That’s where the quote in the subhead comes from. This movie is just so damned enjoyable. Basically you have an older (poor) matchmaker (Booth) who has plans on hooking herself the richest man in Yonkers, Mr. Horace Vandergelder (Paul Ford). Mr. Vandergelder is the stingiest penny pincher this side of Ebenezer Scrooge. He runs a general store managed by Cornelius Hackl (Perkins) and his best friend Barnaby Tucker (Robert Morse). They hate the old coot, giving them no time off, no raises, barely enough to live on. So they decide to say fuck it and take a day off (gee, I wonder if Mr. Hughes watched this movie? Breaking the fourth wall and playing hookey?) and run to the big apple and spend all their dough ($10 of 1890s dough), kiss a couple girls and have an adventure. What they don’t know is that their boss is also heading to New York to meet a girl who is on the verge of agreeing to marry the 60 something year old out of boredom and a desire to get out of her life (Irene Molloy, played by Shirley MacLaine). Booth tags along doing everything she can to keep Irene and Vendergelder apart, keeping him available for herself. Of course, through extreme coincidence Perkins ends up falling in love with MacLaine and thus begins the true comedy of him avoiding his boss while trying to steal his lady. Perkins’ talent for comedy is at top form here. The way he sells a laugh with a simple piece of body movement, a twitch of the neck or a well placed clumsy leg. There’s a particular scene where he’s hiding out in MacLaine’s store as Vandergelder is there and he’s discovered by Booth, halfway to the safety of his closet and he just kind of slows to a crawl, knowing he’s found out, and that crawl just stops as he lays half on the ground and half in the cupboard, essentially reduced to playing dead. Final thoughts: Absolutely get your eyes on this film. It’s one of the most effortlessly fun comedies I’ve seen in a long time with a particularly outstanding turn by Anthony Perkins. And you can see the very beginnings of everybody’s favorite Mama’s Boy, Norman, in his sheepishly boyish performance. Fun facts: This movie is the basis for Hello, Dolly, so I bet that’d be either a really fun or really repetitive double feature. I haven’t seen Hello, Dolly since I was a very young kid (if you don’t count watching Wall-E three times as an almost whole viewing of that musical). Also, the great Ruth Gordon originated the role of the matchmaker on Broadway in 1955. I bet that was incredible… NOTE: THIS IS NOT A MUSICAL! It spawned the musical. Here the focus is firmly on the comedy and the sweetness of the romance between MacLaine and Perkins. The schedule for the next 7 days is: Saturday, July 12th: THE BLACK HOLE (1979) Sunday, July 13th: VENGEANCE IS MINE (1974) Monday, July 14th: STRANGE INVADERS (1983) Tuesday, July 15th: SLEUTH (1972) Wednesday, July 16th: FRENZY (1972) Thursday, July 17th: KINGDOM OF HEAVEN: THE DIRECTOR’S CUT (2005) Friday, July 18th: CADILLAC MAN (1990) Tomorrow we follow Anthony Perkins over to the late 70s Disney Sci-Fi Adventure: THE BLACK HOLE. See you folks then. -Quint email@example.com
June 2nd: Harper
June 3rd: The Drowning Pool
June 4th: Papillon
June 5th: Gun Crazy
June 6th: Never So Few
June 7th: A Hole In The Head
June 8th: Some Came Running
June 9th: Rio Bravo
June 10th: Point Blank
June 11th: Pocket Money
June 12th: Cool Hand Luke
June 13th: The Asphalt Jungle
June 14th: Clash By Night
June 15th: Scarlet Street
June 16th: Killer Bait (aka Too Late For Tears)
June 17th: Robinson Crusoe On Mars
June 18th: City For Conquest
June 19th: San Quentin
June 20th: 42nd Street
June 21st: Dames
June 22nd: Gold Diggers of 1935
June 23rd: Murder, My Sweet
June 24th: Born To Kill
June 25th: The Sound of Music
June 26th: Torn Curtain
June 27th: The Left Handed Gun
June 28th: Caligula
June 29th: The Elephant Man
June 30th: The Good Father
July 1st: Shock Treatment
July 2nd: Flashback
July 3rd: Klute
July 4th: On Golden Pond
July 5th: The Cowboys
July 6th: The Alamo
July 7th: Sands of Iwo Jima
July 8th: Wake of the Red Witch
July 9th: D.O.A.
July 10th: Shadow of A Doubt
Readers Talkbackcomments powered by Disqus
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July 12, 2008, 12:57 a.m. CST
I watched an old movie last night, myself. Never seen it before. I wouldn't say I enjoyed it, but I finished it and liked it for what it was... an old movie starring Elizabeth Taylor.
July 12, 2008, 12:58 a.m. CST
Thanks for doing these Quint. I've followed you with so many of these and it's given me a reason to appreciate movies again. <p> BTW, did you hear about the Great Whites swimming around in Martha's Vineyard? Hopefully they'll realize early that they need a bigger boat...
July 12, 2008, 1:01 a.m. CST
Kingdom of Heaven Director's Cut!!!! a perfect 10 movie in my opinion. Far superior to the original version.
July 12, 2008, 1:10 a.m. CST
July 12, 2008, 1:24 a.m. CST
by Pops Freshemeyer
And the director's cut completely transformed it into a pretty damn great film. Definitely worth checking out...
July 12, 2008, 1:30 a.m. CST
but only hung in for about 10 minutes before writing it off as fluff. Shoulda known better. I'll definitely hunt it down and give it a chance.
July 12, 2008, 1:47 a.m. CST
Definitely give it another shot. Once they set up the characters it totally had me. Everything in New York was gold to me.
July 12, 2008, 2:54 a.m. CST
by The Guy Who Slept Through Everything.
skip that, watch DOGFIGHT again.
July 12, 2008, 3:01 a.m. CST
a young barbara streisand wanting to marry walther mathauw never worked for me...first saw the matchmaker about 20 years ago on tv and was shocked that i had never known that hello dolly was based on the play and movie...it really is very good...and i thought quint had chosen it because of wall-e...i can tell you right now, quint will be very dissapointed in the black hole, and should love sleuth and frenzy...but why would he want to waste time watching strange invaders? do yourself a favor quint...get the directors cuts of heavens gate and once upon a time in america...had the directors cut of once upon a time in america been released, and not that suit hackjob, it woulda swept the academy awards
July 12, 2008, 3:45 a.m. CST
by greigy just wanted to say
Come on.... by the waythe Black Hole is a fantastice head fuck of a movie... gorgeous score by john barry, one bad ass robot and they actually go to hell quite literally t the end... what were they smoking at Disney in '79... VASTLY UNDERRATED..!!!
July 12, 2008, 6:26 a.m. CST
Majorly "Meh." Gotta see Black Hole if you've never seen it. Cadillac Man, not so much.
July 12, 2008, 7:47 a.m. CST
by Grammaton Cleric Binks
stuck in the closet Perkins.
July 12, 2008, 7:51 a.m. CST
by Grammaton Cleric Binks
"And I’m a man who loves me a good romantic comedy." Return to Me. A must see. Caroll O'Connor's last performance, or one of them.
July 12, 2008, 2:21 p.m. CST
by Wed Vid Guy
I'll be praying for your safe journey through THAT film.
July 12, 2008, 2:59 p.m. CST
the cast is perfection. it's the only movie that capitalized on Booth's Oscar win. after that she became TV's HAZEL. Perkins, MacLaine, Ford and a very young Robert Morse are all terrific. the problem with this film is that it's hard to find. went to amazon and it's unavailable. i agree that it is better than Streisand's DOLLY, which was not entirely without it's charms. the stage show is deservedly legendary. also, you forgot to point out that Thorton Wilder's most famous bit of writing wasn't this nor SHADOW/DOUBT, but a little show called OUR TOWN.
July 12, 2008, 4:50 p.m. CST
by Napoleon Park
rarely much to say. But learning a lot about some classic and some obscure films that I'd certainly like to see. Glad you're keeping at it. Don't know if posting "nothing to say" helps or if AICN can log clicks to track readers.<p>but today I can say this: Anthony Perkins is in my personal favorite movie. A very dark comedy, Ken Russell's "Crimes of Passion". Perkins plays a psycho street preacher obsessed with Kathleen Turner's hooker China Blue. (The unrated Euro version ads one S&M sex scene and some erotic art close-ups deleted from the American cut.) Great supporting cast (Annie Potts, Bruce Davison). I even named my computer after a gag from that flick. (It's a Hewlett Packard so I filled in the name line as "the old HP". See the movie to get the crude joke there.)
July 12, 2008, 9:12 p.m. CST
by Wed Vid Guy
July 13, 2008, 12:30 a.m. CST
by Wed Vid Guy
I think "The Black Hole" was a bit too much for Quint to handle.
July 13, 2008, 12:59 a.m. CST
And Patch Adams better not show up.
July 13, 2008, 8:18 a.m. CST
Calling The Boondock Saints a masterpiece means that I will never take anything you say seriously ever again.
Oct. 11, 2009, 10:01 p.m. CST
I love Paul ford...but man i was not in the mood for it
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