Viewing: Unknown. Maybe 4th
Director: Gene Kelly
But, yeah, it's a movie of set-pieces, culminating a bit early in the "Hello, Dolly" sequence that comes part way into the third act, but nowhere near the end. But there's a parade scene that looks like a logistical nightmare for filming, a lovely scene of dancing in a park on real grass (how? why?), and backdrops and sets that I still don't understand how they got built. And so, so many extras all through the film.
Is it any good? Yes. It's not my favorite musical, and it shifts into a completely different gear when either Streisand or Matthau aren't in a scene, then lights up again when they reappear. The supporting characters are straight out of the mid-century period musical playbook, where everyone has an 8 year old's idea of adult relationships and if you're living in a rural area, every situation is met with "gosh!" and "shucks!" and I'm used to it from seeing my fair share of plays and movies, but that's kind of the characters in total, leaving you to wonder what the hell the two women from the hatshop see in the young men from the feed store. Those guys come off like morons.
Like... look. I *like* On the Town, and not just because Ann Miller can work a green dress. Despite some very over the top, kooky characters and cartoonish naivete meant to play to *ahem* Broadway sophisticates, that whole world and package feel cohesive when translated to film. With Hello, Dolly!, there are just times when it feels like there's three movies happening at once.
Some of this is highlighted by the goofy storyline for the various supporting characters versus the surprisingly touching and grounded story Dolly is experiencing entirely on her own through the film as she struggles with the memory of her deceased husband and what she needs to do now. And Streisand, who should have been about 15 years too young to get it - nails it. That's some adult-type stuff, and feels kind of crazy next to "I'm almost 30! I should kiss a girl!".
Still, if you want to see Streisand sing her head off, quip like a mad woman and bat her big eyelashes, this is the movie for you. But it's not going to be my intro to musicals for any of my pals who are skeptical on the topic.
*And this is THAT Michael Crawford, who played The Phantom and is kinda a household name.