The Matchmaker

Overview

Thornton Wilder's 1938 stage play The Merchant of Yonkers was based on an old British stage farce by John Oxenford which in turn served as the basis of an Austrian farce by Johann Nestroy. Merchant of Yonkers was a bomb, but Wilder was quite fond of the piece, so he revised it as the considerably more successful The Matchmaker in 1955. The 1958 film version stars Shirley Booth as 19th-century matchmaker Dolly Gallagher Levi a character not found in the Oxenford or Nestroy versions; Wilder "borrowed" Dolly from ...
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Overview

Thornton Wilder's 1938 stage play The Merchant of Yonkers was based on an old British stage farce by John Oxenford which in turn served as the basis of an Austrian farce by Johann Nestroy. Merchant of Yonkers was a bomb, but Wilder was quite fond of the piece, so he revised it as the considerably more successful The Matchmaker in 1955. The 1958 film version stars Shirley Booth as 19th-century matchmaker Dolly Gallagher Levi a character not found in the Oxenford or Nestroy versions; Wilder "borrowed" Dolly from Moliere's The Miser. Dolly is currently trying to arrange a marriage between Yonkers dry-goods merchant Horace Vandergelder Paul Ford and hatmaker Irene Molloy Shirley MacLaine-though she secretly harbors a desire to march Horace to the altar herself. Meanwhile, Vandergelder's chief clerk Cornelius Anthony Perkins, celebrating a recent promotion, decides to head to New York for a "good time." Though he's supposed to be minding the store, Cornelius abandons the shop, with fellow-clerk Barnaby Robert Morse, repeating his stage role in tow. Inevitably, Cornelius and Barnaby wind up escorting Irene Molloy and her co-worker Minnie Fay Perry Wilson to a fancy restaurant, where Horace and Dolly are also dining. As the many plot twists wend their way through the proceedings, the camera occasionally pauses to allow the character to speak directly to the audience, expressing their innermost desires and philosophies; this purely theatrical device works quite well on screen, especially the monologue about honesty delivered by handyman Malachi Stack played with alcoholic whimsy by Wallace Ford. While the name "Malachi Stack"may not be familiar to you, the other characters-and the basic plot-will be instantly recognizable to fans of Hello Dolly, the 1964 musical comedy version of The Matchmaker.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
Thornton Wilder's The Matchmaker is a rarity, a farce with heart. Because of their reliance on fast pacing, complicated plotting and characters that are usually types rather than fully formed people, even the best farces tend to skimp on warmth. But there's a sentimental, sometimes melancholy little melody that keeps sounding underneath the cacophony that accompanies Wilder's boisterous goings-on, and it's a welcome addition. Matchmaker is made even warmer by the presence of the charming Shirley Booth in the title role; she mixes a good dose of motherliness into her interpretation of the meddlesome, troublemaking Dolly. The character loses a bit in power as a result, but that loss is made up for by what it gains in appeal. Booth's interpretation seems right in line with director Joseph Anthony's take on the piece, which has a surprising gentleness and sense of nostalgia while still maintaining its comedic edge. The piece's staginess, especially in its use of characters addressing the camera directly, will turn some off, but it's handled effectively. Beyond Booth, the cast is also expert, with Paul Ford appropriately blustering and Anthony Perkins and Shirley MacLaine sweetly appealing. Though not a great film, Matchmaker is pleasant whimsy -- and superior to the film of its musical version, Hello, Dolly.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 10/22/2013
  • UPC: 883316885666
  • Original Release: 1958
  • Rating:

  • Source: Paramount (Pmt)
  • Presentation: Pan & Scan
  • Language: English
  • Time: 1:40:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 11,826

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Shirley Booth Dolly "Gallagher" Levi
Anthony Perkins Cornelius Hackl
Shirley MacLaine Irene Molloy
Paul Ford Horace Vandergelder
Robert Morse Barnaby Tucker
Wallace Ford Malachi Stack
Perry Wilson Minnie Fay
Russell Collins Joe Scanlon
Rex Evans August
Gavin Gordon Rudolph
Torben Meyer Maitre D'
Lorraine Crawford
Joe Forte
Sandra Giles
Jon Lormer
Arthur Lovejoy
Fred Somers
Technical Credits
Joseph Anthony Director
Roland Anderson Art Director
Robert R. Benton Set Decoration/Design
Charles C. Coleman Jr. Asst. Director
Sam Comer Set Decoration/Design
Adolph Deutsch Score Composer
Don Hartman Producer
John Michael Hayes Screenwriter
Edith Head Costumes/Costume Designer
Charles B. Lang Cinematographer
Hal Pereira Art Director
Howard A. Smith Editor
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