Lucille Ball stars as Mame, an eccentric, avant-garde New Yorker who suddenly becomes the guardian of her orphaned nephew. She opens new vistas for the boy but when the Depression hits, she finds herself a shop clerk. Luckily, one of her first customers is a handsome, wealthy, and single Southern gentleman (Robert Preston).
First of all, this is the Worst Movie Ever; not funny bad, but miserably awful in every way. When the story opens, Mame is about 42, but Lucy's 62, looks 72, and sounds 82. Her voice is so low and gravelly, she sounds like Foghorn Leghorn and is about as subtle. When she smiles, she has a frozen leer on her face that makes her look like a mummy, even with the ridiculous soft-focus lens that fools no one. From her first scene, she has no warmth or heart, nothing about her that would make a little boy love her, let alone her hoards of minions.
Bea Arthur plays Mame's best friend, but she's made up to look like an ugly man. She and Lucy have no chemistry at all and their witty repartee falls flat.
The story moves way too quickly in order to fit in all the songs which are slow and dreary; they could have been saved if Lucy would sing, but she can't. Mame's wardrobe is stylish and striking, but Lucy seems to be posing like a wax figure in them, rather than actually being a fabulously charismatic woman. Watching this movie just makes one remember how much better Rosalind Russell was in the original, non-musical version.