Cast & Crew
In 1890, Dolly Levi, a widowed New York City Jewish matchmaker, journeys to Yonkers, home of Horace Vandergelder, a wealthy grain merchant whom she would like to marry. Horace wants Dolly to take his niece, Ermengarde, to New York, where the girl will be protected from the attentions of Ambrose Kemper, an impoverished young artist. In addition, he reveals his intention to marry Irene Molloy, a pretty New York milliner, an announcement that inspires Dolly to devise a plan to keep Horace for herself. First, she instructs Ermengarde and Ambrose to escape to New York, hoping they will win first prize in the dance contest given at the elegant Harmonia Gardens restaurant. Upon overhearing that Cornelius and Barnaby, the destitute clerks from Horace's store, are planning to take a day off in the owner's absence, Dolly advises them to visit Irene's shop but not to reveal who has sent them. The girl-shy clerks follow her suggestion and introduce themselves as wealthy sophisticates to Irene and her assistant, Minnie Fay, but their visit is aborted when they spot Horace and Dolly about to enter. The boys hide and conceal their identity, but all marriage potential between Horace and Irene is dissolved when he discovers the two men. Pleased with the outcome of her plan, Dolly persuades Cornelius and Barnaby to take the girls to Harmonia Gardens for dinner and also arranges for Horace to be met there by a new marriage prospect, the heiress Ernestina Simple, who is, in fact, Dolly's actress friend Gussie Granger. Exquisitely coiffed and gowned, Dolly makes a dazzling entrance at the restaurant, where she charms Horace until he is about to propose to her; but he spots Ermengarde and Ambrose on the dance floor. In his hectic pursuit of the couple, Horace incites a ruckus that climaxes when he discovers his two clerks using the melee as an opportunity to sneak away from an unpaid check. He fires them, but Dolly, disgusted by Horace's lack of charity, leaves him in anger. The next morning, however, the merchant repents and gives Ermengarde and Ambrose permission to marry, promotes Cornelius and Barnaby, and finally asks Dolly to marry him, thereby making the matchmaker's scheme a total success.
E. J. Peaker
J. Pat O'malley
L. B. Abbott
John De Cuir
Emil Kosa Jr.
Philip J. Lang
Walter M. Scott
Jack Martin Smith
Best Art Direction
Best Costume Design
At 25, Barbra Streisand might have been an odd choice to play the middle-aged widow Dolly Levi in the film version since the musical had won a Tony Award for Carol Channing. Channing had wanted the role, doing the film Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967) as an unofficial "screen test." Having seen the result, screenwriter Ernest Lehman felt her outsized personality would be too much for an entire film. Ethel Merman (for whom the musical had been written but who would not perform it until 1970) turned down the role outright and Elizabeth Taylor had briefly been considered, then rejected because she couldn't sing. At the time, Streisand was shooting the film that would earn her the Best Actress Oscar®, Funny Girl (1968). Although the movie was still in production at Columbia, word of mouth indicated that it would be a huge hit. Unfortunately for Streisand she was seen as an "up-start" by those in Hollywood who felt she had stolen the part from Channing when Richard Zanuck announced her casting on May 8, 1967. Richard Coe summed up the feeling in the May 11, 1967 edition of The Washington Post writing, "Would you believe Barbra Streisand for the screen's Hello, Dolly!? Well, that's the knuckle headed fact...With all due respect to young Miss Streisand, the mournful Nefertiti is clearly not the outgoing, zestful Irishwoman whose vitality brightens Thornton Wilder's mature, life-loving Dolly Gallagher-Levi. The perversity of not choosing to get Carol Channing's musical-comedy classic on film is hard to fathom."
Channing later remembered, "I was doing Hello, Dolly! at Expo '67 at the time, and when they announced the star for the movie on that great day I had the feeling I was Mark Twain and had just died and become an observer at my funeral." The announcement was not the end of the drama. Reports were coming from Columbia Studios over Streisand's repeated demand for retakes on Funny Girl which supposedly cost the studio an extra $200,000. In addition, Streisand's own public remarks cast doubt on whether or not she would accept the role so Lehman and Zanuck considered other options as a back-up, including testing Yvette Mimieux, Phyllis Newman and Ann-Margret between December 12, 1967 and January 3, 1968. Streisand did finally accept the role and went to the studio for wardrobe fitting on February 13, 1968.
The budget for Hello, Dolly! had begun at $10 million and by 1968 had swollen to $25 million, $2 million alone was spent on the recreation of Fifth Avenue on the Fox lot. Streisand's gold beaded gown, which weighed 40 pounds, cost $8,000 and the Harmonia Gardens set cost $375,000 to build. It was the most expensive movie musical to that time. Pre-production began in September 1967 with filming beginning April 15, 1968 on Stage 16 on the Fox lot and ran through August with location shooting including the Knotts' Berry Farm (now a major amusement park) in Buena Park, California; Waterfront Park and The Golden Eagle Inn in Garrison, New York; Cold Spring and Poughkeepsie, New York, and Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. During filming in Garrison on June 5th, news reached the set that Robert Kennedy had been assassinated, which created a further distraction for the company along with the temperatures that hovered near 100 degrees.
One of the biggest problems during production seems to have been the hostility that developed between Walter Matthau and Barbra Streisand. Matthau is said to have been frustrated with Streisand's demand for retakes and what he saw as an inflated ego. He refused to be in the same room as Streisand unless they were filming and was quoted as saying, "I have more talent in my smallest fart than she does in her entire body." The dislike was mutual, with Streisand presenting Matthau with a bar of soap for his "sewer-mouth". Matthau's dislike spread to co-star Michael Crawford with whom he would attend horse races on his days off. During one race Crawford bet on a horse called "Hello Dolly". Compulsive gambler Matthau refused to bet on the horse because he hated Streisand so much. When the horse won, Matthau wouldn't speak to Crawford for the remainder of filming. Likewise, director Gene Kelly and Streisand did not see eye to eye on most things, or were not, in the words of Ernest Lehman, "meant to communicate on this Earth." Streisand herself was unhappy in the role, which she really didn't want and which Carol Channing desperately did. She often phoned Kelly and Lehman in the middle of the night with her insecurities. All in all, it was not a happy shoot. Lehman later told writer Clive Hirschhorn, "the intrigues, the bitterness, the backbiting, the deceits, the misery, the gloom. Most unpleasant. It's quite amazing what people go through to make something entertaining for others."
Hello, Dolly! was released on December 16, 1968 with a premiere at the Rivoli Theater on Broadway with at least one thousand fans jamming the streets screaming for Streisand. The film was released in both 35mm and 70mm wide screen and earned Oscar® nominations for Best Picture, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design and Best Film Editing. It won for Best Art Direction and Best Sound. Yet, despite being the fifth top grossing film of the year, was an indisputable flop, losing an estimated $10 million. This film, along with two other musical failures Doctor Dolittle (1967) and Star! (1968) wiped out all the profits Fox had earned from The Sound of Music (1965). With the Vietnam War raging and the hippie counter-culture influencing entertainment, Hello, Dolly! could not hope to make a profit despite being a well-produced and prestigious musical entertainment. Susan Sackett attributed the film's failure to the fact that "the movie-going audience was comprised of mostly under-30s, and young people just weren't impressed with lavish musical. Also many felt that Barbra Streisand at age 27 [sic], was miscast as the matronly Dolly. Costs seemed to escalate out of control. Fox took a gamble, and lost."
Producer: Ernest Lehman
Director: Gene Kelly
Screenplay: Ernest Lehman, Johann Nestroy (play "Einen Jux will er sich machen" uncredited), Michael Stewart (stage musical), and Thornton Wilder (play "The Matchmaker")
Cinematography: Harry Stradling, Sr.
Art Direction: Herman A. Blumenthal and Jack Martin Smith
Music: Jerry Herman
Film Editing: William Reynolds
Cast: Dolly Levi (Barbra Streisand), Horace Vandergelder (Walter Matthau), Cornelius Hackl (Michael Crawford), Irene Molloy (Marianne McAndrew), Barnaby Tucker (Danny Lockin).
C-149m. Letterboxed. Closed Captioning.
by Lorraine LoBianco
Box Office Hits by Susan Sackett
Gene Kelly by Alvin Yudkoff
Her Name is Barbra: An Intimate Portrait of the Real Barbra Streisand by Randall Riese
The Internet Movie Database
Ernest Lehman (1915-2005)
Born on December 8, 1915 in New York City, Lehman graduated from New York's City College with a degree in English. After graduation he found work as a writer for many mediums: radio, theater, and popular magazines of the day like Collier's before landing his first story in Hollywood for the comedy, The Inside Story (1948). The success of that film didn't lead immediately to screenwriting some of Hollywood's biggest hits, but his persistancy to break into the silver screen paid off by the mid-'50s: the delicious Audrey Hepburn comedy Sabrina (1954, his first Oscar® nomination and first Golden Globe award); Paul Newman's first hit based on the life of Rocky Graziano Somebody Up There Likes Me; and his razor sharp expose of the publicity world based on his own experiences as an assistant for a theatre publicist The Sweet Smell of Success (1957).
Lehman's verasitily and gift for playful dialogue came to the fore for Alfred Hitchcock's memorable North by Northwes (1959, his second Oscar® nomination); and he showed a knack for moving potentially stiff Broadway fodder into swift cinematic fare with West Side Story (1961, a third Oscar® nomination); The Sound of Music (1965); Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966); and Hello, Dolly! (1969, the last two being his final Oscar® nominations for screenwriting).
Lehman took his turn as a director when he adapted Philip Roth's comic novel Portnoy's Complaint (1972) for film, and despite some good reviews, it wasn't a commercial hit. He wrote just two more screenplays before retiring: an underrated comic mystery gem for Hitchcock Family Plot (1976); and the big budget Robert Shaw espionage drama Black Sunday (1977). Lehman served as president of the Writers Guild of America from 1983-85. After going zero for five with his Oscar® nominations, the Academy made it up to him in 2001, by presenting him with an honorary Academy Award for his "body of varied and enduring work." Lehman is survived by his wife Laurie and three children.
by Michael T. Toole
Ernest Lehman (1915-2005)
Advice is cheap Ms. Molloy. It's the things that come gift wrapped that count!- Horace
It takes a woman all powdered and pink to joyously clean out the drain in the sink!- Horace
Here, let me cut your wings!- Dolly Levi
I don't want my wings cut!- Horace
No man does, Horace, no man does.- Dolly Levi
Money, pardon the expression, is like manure. It's not worth a thing unless it's spread around, encouraging young things to grow.- Dolly Levi
Holy cabooses!- Barnaby Tucker
Streisand's gold-beaded gown shown in the Harmonia Gardens set weighed 40 pounds and cost $8000. Twice during rehearsal, Barbara tripped over its 2.5 foot train. Others dancers tripped during rehearsal also. So, the train was taken off the dress. The train is shown intact when Barbra starts down the stairs, but later disappears.
Michael Kidd (choreographer) broke his leg during rehearsal while showing a routine to dancers.
Louis Armstrong was only on set for 1/2 day and did his shots in one take.
The Harmonia Gardens sequence (where the song "Hello Dolly" is performed) took an entire month to shoot.
The set for the Harmonia Gardens filled an entire sound stage at Fox Studios and occupied three levels: a dance floor, a main section that surrounded the dance floor and an upper mezzanine.
The film was released in both 35mm and 70mm versions. According to modern sources, Thornton Wilder's play, on which the musical Hello Dolly! was based, was itself based on a 1938 Wilder play The Merchant of Yonkers. The Merchant of Yonkers was in turn based on a Viennese farce. The Matchmaker was also the basis of a 1958 film, also titled The Matchmaker, starring Anthony Perkins, Shirley MacLaine and Shirley Booth, directed by Joseph Anthony.
Hello, Dolly! received Oscars for Best Art Direction and Best Sound, and received Academy Award nominations for Best Picture, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design and Best Film Editing.
Released in United States Winter December 1969
Released in United States Winter December 1969