Musical comedy of romantic errors set in 1920s New York. Dolly Gallagher Levi (Barbra Streisand), recently widowed and living in Yonkers, New York, is something of a society matchmaker. Hired to find the perfect beau for the also just widowed millionaire Horace Vandergelder (Walther Matthau), Dolly can't help but conclude that it is she whom he should be marrying. Horace has his eye on Irene Molloy, a pretty young thing that Dolly simply must get out of the way if her plan is to succeed. Meanwhile two of Horace's young employees Cornelius (Michael Crawford) and Barnaby decide to take advantage of the boss's romantic mission to the city and follow him for a glimpse of the urban high-life. Through a series of coincidences the pair have to escape being discovered by Horace, only to take refuge in Irene Molloy's hat emporium, with Cornelius immediately falling in love with the owner, and Barnaby with her assistant Minnie. The young lovers end up at a very expensive restaurant with Dolly desperately trying to make sure that everyone ends up with the right partner, and to claim Horace for her own.
They just don't make musicals like this any more. There are some who would be grateful for that--the plot is but a flimsy excuse to string together song and dance numbers. Some of us, however, love big, splashy, overdone musical scenes, of which there are many. Glittering stage numbers showcase a commanding Barbra Streisand as Dolly Levy, a New York matchmaker who can find a mate for anyone. Anyone but herself, that is. Determined to marry wealthy Walter Matthau, she lures him out of Yonkers and sets about wooing him. Don't worry about the lack of a solid story or Gene Kelly's pedestrian direction. Watch instead for the musical numbers and the lavish costumes. Listen to Jerry Herman's score, and dance around the living room when a sequined Streisand arrives in a club as Louis Armstrong strikes up the title tune for her benefit. (Just pull the shades first.) Based on Thornton Wilder's play The Matchmaker
, Hello, Dolly!
won Academy Awards for best sound, art direction, and musical score. --Rochelle O'Gorman