Yesterday, TCM ran the movie of Hello, Dolly! I put it on for one reason -- the sole reason to me I'm glad the movie was made. To be clear, I think the film is okay. There's some since material in it, but overall it's just all mucked up with miscasting. For all the Barbra Streisand lovers in the world, I'm sorry, but she's 15-20 years too young for the role. She's fine in her scenes, but they're all off-kilter, and ultimately so is the point of the film.
But the one reason I'm glad they made is is the title song. Not because I like the number (which I do), but because they had the presence of mind and great taste to find a way to put Louis Armstrong in it. And not just in it, but in a way that fits smoothy and believably, as the orchestra leader at the Harmonia Gardens.
I saw Louis Armstrong perform the number at a concert at the Ravinia Festival outside Chicago, the summer that his renowned recording of The Song was released. Just to give you some idea of the phenomenon that utterly joyously infectious recording was, the audience reaction was so great that he had to sing six encores of it. Honest.
Jerry Herman has always given credit to that recording for making the show a hit and changing his life. That's not necessarily showbiz hyperbole. Satchmo's recording was made before the show opened -- and it caused them to change the name of the musical. Originally, it was to be titled, A Damned Exasperating Woman. After the Louis Armstrong recording of "Hello, Dolly!" took the country by storm, one title was out, and another was in.
Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find a clip of him in the movie. But this will have to do. Live in concert from 1965 in Berllin. With proof that I wasn't lying about the encores.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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