Bells Are Ringing (1960)

126-127 mins | Musical comedy | July 1960

Director:

Vincente Minnelli

Producer:

Arthur Freed

Cinematographer:

Milton Krasner

Editor:

Adrienne Fazan

Production Designers:

George W. Davis, Preston Ames

Production Companies:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp., Arthur Freed Productions, Inc.
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HISTORY

The film opens with the following onscreen credit: "Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer presents Judy Holliday, Dean Martin in An Arthur Freed Production, Bells Are Ringing ." The film opens with a voice-over narration presented like an advertisement, glorifying the "Susanswerphone" business. In addition to attributing Susanswerphone with successfully life-altering results for subscribers by catching all missed calls, the location of the business is said to be an elegant and upscale office.
       When the dramatic action of the film begins immediately thereafter, Susanswerphone is shown to be located in a basement apartment in a run-down brownstone. At the close of the film, after Susanswerphone operator "Ella" Peterson finally resolves her own love dilemma, voice-over narration claims that using Susanswerphone can solve all subscribers' problems.
       According to a 7 Aug 1957 HR news item, M-G-M purchased the rights to the 1956 musical Bells Are Ringing that year and planned to have Judy Holliday reprise her stage role in the film. Sidney Chaplin, who co-starred with Holliday on Broadway, was tested for the picture; however, Dean Martin was later chosen as Holliday's co-star. Although an 11 Nov 1959 HR news item notes that Hal Linden, who played the role of "Master of ceremonies" in Bells Are Ringing , co-starred with Holliday in the Broadway production, he was actually Chaplin's understudy. HR news item add Carmen Phillips, Woody Herman, Milton Parsons and Mitzi Chapman to the cast, but their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed.
       According to a 10 Aug 1959 HR news item, Comden and Green created two new songs for the motion picture version of the musical. Memos in ... More Less

The film opens with the following onscreen credit: "Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer presents Judy Holliday, Dean Martin in An Arthur Freed Production, Bells Are Ringing ." The film opens with a voice-over narration presented like an advertisement, glorifying the "Susanswerphone" business. In addition to attributing Susanswerphone with successfully life-altering results for subscribers by catching all missed calls, the location of the business is said to be an elegant and upscale office.
       When the dramatic action of the film begins immediately thereafter, Susanswerphone is shown to be located in a basement apartment in a run-down brownstone. At the close of the film, after Susanswerphone operator "Ella" Peterson finally resolves her own love dilemma, voice-over narration claims that using Susanswerphone can solve all subscribers' problems.
       According to a 7 Aug 1957 HR news item, M-G-M purchased the rights to the 1956 musical Bells Are Ringing that year and planned to have Judy Holliday reprise her stage role in the film. Sidney Chaplin, who co-starred with Holliday on Broadway, was tested for the picture; however, Dean Martin was later chosen as Holliday's co-star. Although an 11 Nov 1959 HR news item notes that Hal Linden, who played the role of "Master of ceremonies" in Bells Are Ringing , co-starred with Holliday in the Broadway production, he was actually Chaplin's understudy. HR news item add Carmen Phillips, Woody Herman, Milton Parsons and Mitzi Chapman to the cast, but their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed.
       According to a 10 Aug 1959 HR news item, Comden and Green created two new songs for the motion picture version of the musical. Memos in the Arthur Freed Collection at the USC Cinema-Television Library indicate that Comden had been working on a new song entitled "My Guiding Star," but that song was not in the released print, nor were any songs not in the Broadway musical. Portions of the film were shot on location in New York City, including the areas of Times Square and Bay Ridge and in Los Angeles.
       Bells Are Ringing received an Academy Award nomination for Best Music (Scoring of a Musical Picture), but lost to Song Without End . In addition to the 1956 Broadway musical, another stage version of the musical opened in London (14 Nov 1957) starring Janet Blair. According to modern sources, Holliday broke into acting after serving as a switchboard operator for Orson Welles's Mercury Theatre, where she made her debut in a cabaret group known as the Revuers, which also included Comden and Green. Holliday, whose final role was Bells Are Ringing , died of cancer in 1965. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
13 Jun 1960.
---
Box Office
20 Jun 1960.
---
Daily Variety
7 Aug 1957.
---
Daily Variety
8 Jun 1960
p. 3.
Film Daily
8 Jun 1960
p. 6.
Filmfacts
22 Jul 1960
p. 147.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Aug 1957.
---
Hollywood Reporter
10 Aug 1959
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Aug 1959
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Sep 1959
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Oct 1959
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Oct 1959
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Oct 1959
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Oct 1959
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Nov 1959
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Nov 1959
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Dec 1959
p. 14, 16.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Jun 1960
p. 3.
Life
25 Jul 1960.
---
Los Angeles Times
29 Jun 1960.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
11 Jun 1960
p. 732.
New York Daily News
24 Jun 1960.
---
New York Times
20 Aug 1959.
---
New York Times
24 Jun 1960
p. 31.
New Yorker
9 Jul 1960.
---
Time
20 Jun 1960.
---
Variety
8 Jun 1960
p. 6.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Jeff's party guests:
George E. Stone
Actors:
Steve Stevens
Actesses:
Party Guests:
Bill Hudson
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
An Arthur Freed Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam asst
Still man
Gaffer
Best boy
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
Prop man
Prop man
COSTUMES
Cost des
Men's ward
Women's ward
MUSIC
Mus adapted and cond
Orch
Rehearsal pianist
SOUND
Rec supv
Sd mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
DANCE
MAKEUP
Hair styles
Makeup created
Hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Asst to prod
Unit mgr
Scr supv
Publicity
Casting
Casting
Voice coach
STAND INS
Stand-in for Dean Martin
Dance-in
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col consultant
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the musical Bells Are Ringing , book and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, music by Jule Styne, as presented on the stage by The Theatre Guild (New York, 29 Nov 1956).
MUSIC
"Bells Are Ringing," "It's Better Than a Dream," "Do It Yourself," "Drop That Name," "Hello, Hello There," "I Met a Girl," "I'm Going Back," "It's a Perfect Relationship," "It's a Simple Little System," "Just in Time," "The Midas Touch," "Mu-Cha-Cha" and "The Party's Over," words by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, music by Jule Styne.
DETAILS
Release Date:
July 1960
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 29 June 1960
Production Date:
Late August--early September 1959 in New York City
early-October-- 24 December 1959 in Los Angeles
Copyright Claimant:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc. & Arthur Freed Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
23 May 1960
Copyright Number:
LP16441
Physical Properties:
Sound
Westrex Recording System
Color
Metrocolor
Widescreen/ratio
CinemaScope
Lenses/Prints
Photographic lenses by Panavision
Duration(in mins):
126-127
Length(in feet):
11,303
Length(in reels):
7
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
19463
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Switchboard operator Ella Peterson works for telephone answering service Susanswerphone in owner Sue's Brooklyn Heights basement apartment. Despite Sue's orders strictly to "take and give" messages, Ella uses a variety of character voices to generously assist subscribers in their professional and personal life, including even posing as Santa Claus to help a mother convince her child to behave. Ella is especially concerned about playwright Jeffrey Moss, with whom she calls herself "Mom" because, she insists, the sensitive man has recently lost his writing partner and needs motherly reassurance. Ella's shy and clumsy behavior and her secret crush on Jeffrey prevent her from any real romance. One day, when Jeffrey confides in "Mom" that his producer Larry Hastings has given him one day to finish the outline for his new play, "Midas Touch," "Mom" tries to boost his ego, but Jeffrey soon loses his self-confidence and drinks himself to sleep. Meanwhile, Inspector Barnes and his assistant Francis, who suspect that Susanswerphone is actually a prostitution ring, pose as magazine reporters and interview Ella while surreptitiously wire-taping the switchboard in hopes that an arrest will lead to Barnes’ immediate promotion. When opera singer “Mme.” Grimaldi calls, Barnes believes she is the “madame” of the prostitution ring and warns Sue and Ella he is putting them under surveillance. Soon after, Sue's boyfriend, a debonair European named J. Otto Prantz, moves into the apartment to run his music distribution business, Titanic Records, which is actually a front for a bookkeeping operation. During a secret meeting with his bookies, Otto explains the new system: When customers place their bets, the specifics will be translated into a classical music record album code in which, for ... +


Switchboard operator Ella Peterson works for telephone answering service Susanswerphone in owner Sue's Brooklyn Heights basement apartment. Despite Sue's orders strictly to "take and give" messages, Ella uses a variety of character voices to generously assist subscribers in their professional and personal life, including even posing as Santa Claus to help a mother convince her child to behave. Ella is especially concerned about playwright Jeffrey Moss, with whom she calls herself "Mom" because, she insists, the sensitive man has recently lost his writing partner and needs motherly reassurance. Ella's shy and clumsy behavior and her secret crush on Jeffrey prevent her from any real romance. One day, when Jeffrey confides in "Mom" that his producer Larry Hastings has given him one day to finish the outline for his new play, "Midas Touch," "Mom" tries to boost his ego, but Jeffrey soon loses his self-confidence and drinks himself to sleep. Meanwhile, Inspector Barnes and his assistant Francis, who suspect that Susanswerphone is actually a prostitution ring, pose as magazine reporters and interview Ella while surreptitiously wire-taping the switchboard in hopes that an arrest will lead to Barnes’ immediate promotion. When opera singer “Mme.” Grimaldi calls, Barnes believes she is the “madame” of the prostitution ring and warns Sue and Ella he is putting them under surveillance. Soon after, Sue's boyfriend, a debonair European named J. Otto Prantz, moves into the apartment to run his music distribution business, Titanic Records, which is actually a front for a bookkeeping operation. During a secret meeting with his bookies, Otto explains the new system: When customers place their bets, the specifics will be translated into a classical music record album code in which, for instance, “Beethoven” is actually Belmont Park and “five hundred orders” is a $500 bet. The next morning, when Jeffrey does not answer Ella's wakeup call, she goes to his apartment and awakens him, excited finally to know what he looks like. Claiming to have the wrong address, Ella introduces herself as "Melisande Scott." When Jeffrey flirts with her, Ella insists that he is just trying to avoid writing and then reminds him that he has written without a partner before. Jeffrey thinks that her intuition about his past behavior is "uncanny" and begins to work, inspired by her confidence in his ability. After Larry approves the outline, Jeffrey asks Ella for her number, but she refuses and instead sets a date to meet at his apartment the following week. Days later, Ella discovers the Pyramid Club is holding auditions for song writers and, despite Sue's orders otherwise, makes an appointment with subscriber Joe Kitchell, a dentist who longs to become a professional song writer. When Kitchell asks her to give him a subject to test his lyrical ability, Ella blurts out "midas touch." After Kitchell sings a ditty using his air hose as a microphone, Ella gives him the Pyramid Club advertisement, then disappears. Meanwhile, Francis, secretly photographs the transaction. Days later, when Ella learns from Larry's messages that subscriber Blake Barton's casual manner and sloppy appearance have lost him the audition for a part in Jeffrey's play, Ella , dressed as a beatnik, visits Barton at his café hangout and suggests that he wear a suit and repeat the audition. Once again, Francis is lurking in the shadows and takes a picture. Later at the office, Ella is taking Titanic Record orders, when neighbor Carl, an avid classical music fan, notes that an order for Beethoven's tenth symphony must be wrong, since the composer only wrote nine, prompting Ella to change several large "shipping" orders. In a moment alone with fellow operator Gwynne, Ella despairs that she has lied to Jeffrey about her real identity. When he calls moments later to ask "Mom" if there are any messages from "Melisande," Ella hears actress Olga in the background trying to seduce Jeffrey. Jealousy finally prompts Ella to race to Jeffrey's apartment, where she announces she is Jeffrey's secretary and pushes Olga out the door. However, she is too shy to admit her crush or her real identity and attempts to leave, but when Jeffrey professes his love, Ella collapses into his arms and kisses him. Once again, Francis, hiding on the balcony, takes a photograph. One evening, after Jeffrey sings to Ella about the timeliness of her arrival in his life, a nervous Ella reluctantly agrees to go to a star-studded party. Noticing that the crowd's conversations are filled with name-dropping, Ella attempts her own version but only comes up with dog stars "Rin Tin Tin" and "Lassie." Just as Ella decides she must tell Jeffrey the truth, a butler delivers a note from Jeffrey asking her to marry him. Ella replies with "Goodbye" and leaves the party. While walking home, she laments that Jeffrey is in love with "Melisande," not her. Meanwhile, when two gangster mugs threaten to kill Otto for lost "Beethoven" bets, he deludes Sue into investing her capital into his "business" and uses the money for the payoff. Unable to find "Melisande," Jeffrey spends that night drinking at the Pyramid Club, where Barton introduces himself as the new actor in Jeffrey's play and tells him the story of the "miracle" girl who gave him audition advice. Suddenly, the stage show begins as a chorus line of dancers sing "The Midas Touch." Struck by the coincidence, Jeffrey approaches Kitchell, who tells the story of his "miracle" girl who gave him the idea for the song. Later, when Jeffrey discovers the men are also Susanwerphone subscribers, he realizes "Mom" is the miracle girl. At Susanswerphone, Ella is tired of living through others' lives and vows to return to her old job at a brassiere company switchboard. As she packs to leave, the mugs arrive for their money. When Ella explains to Otto that she "corrected" his orders, Otto, in frustration, blurts out that she put the wrong bookings on the wrong horse. Desperate to help Sue retrieve her life-savings, Ella warns the mugs that they have been taperecorded by the police. When Barnes arrives a few minutes later to arrest Ella and Sue, Ella loudly announces that Otto is running a large-scale booking operation under the Titanic Record front. Mindful of his promotion, Barnes arrests Otto and the mugs and admits he misjudged Ella. When Jeffrey arrives soon after, Ella tries to disguise herself as "Mom" using an afghan, eye glasses and a mop head, but Jeffrey sees through her disguise and asks Ella that she give her love solely to him, instead of "scattering it" to all the subscribers. After Larry, Kitchell, Francis, Gwynne, Barton, Sue and others congratulate the couple, Ella and Jeffrey dance out into the night while Susanwerphone's bells keep ringing. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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