A  hit musical on Broadway, Call Me Madam scored a run of close to two years in Gotham with Ethel Merman, as Ambassador Sally Adams, the fabulous Femme diplomat, representing the US in the mythical Grand Duchy of Lichtenburg. Merman still reigns in the cinematic version.
In key spots, George Sanders is the tiny country’s foreign department chief, and Donald O’Connor is the US press attache, Billy De Wolfe is the American charge d’affaires, Vera-Ellen plays the princess and Helmut Dantine is on hand as the prince who’s spurned by the princess in favor of the American press rep.
Madam offers an ingratiating book loosely fashioned after the career of Perle Mesta, former US Minister to Luxembourg. Added plusses are via the widened scope and richness of the production, lush mountains and extra trimmings for the delightful Irving Berlin score. Also, there’s the fresh, inventive choreography staged by Robert Alton, with O’Connor and Vera-Ellen as a terping combo of top calibre.
The screenplay, from the Howard Lindsay-Russel Crouse book, is imaginative and whimsical. Merman is at her robust best with a tune. At the opening, she gives ‘Hostess with the Mostest on the Ball’ a powerhouse delivery and it’s a cinch to provoke heavy mitting. Her ‘You’re Just in Love’ duet with O’Connor also is standout.
1953: Best Scoring of a Musical Picture.
Nomination: Best Color Costume Design