Bells Are Ringing - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Bells Are Ringing Reviews

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½ April 23, 2015
Super cute movie. The storyline seemed fine w/o the musical numbers but it was still watchable.
½ August 3, 2014
The songs and plot are fairly cliche, but Bells Are Ringing succeeds as an entertaining movie musical thanks in large part to Judy Holiday's performance
½ August 26, 2013
Filmed at an awkward time where musicals weren't so cool anymore and the rock 'n' roll age was up-and-coming, "Bells Are Ringing" is an example of a late comedy musical. It isn't as good as one would expect, considering it's helmed by none other than Vincente Minnelli, but there are a few delights that one can wring out from the film. One of them, maybe even the only one, is Judy Holliday, a few years before her untimely death in 1965 at the age of 43. She shines brightly, even if everything around her isn't too special.
Holliday portrays Ella, a down-on-her luck, near-spinsterhood woman who's looking for love but is having a hard time finding it. Day and night, Ella works tirelessly for Susanswerphone, a revolutionary independent phone company that serves as a sort-of personalized answering machine. Ella, who takes the messages and gives them out, can't help but get emotionally involved with her customers.
One man that especially sticks out to her is handsome playwright Jeffrey Moss (Dean Martin), who has lost his writing partner and is close to becoming an alcoholic. It doesn't take long for Ella to fall for him, and before long, they meet face to face. The trouble is, is that Ella gets butterflies when she first sees him, and assumes a fake name to cover her true identity.
Though Holliday is magnificent as always, "Bells Are Ringing" doesn't leave you with that sticky, sugar-sweet feeling you get when you watch musical comedies. It's either because a) there is no beautiful Technicolor, which always gives musicals the essence of "why can't the real world be like a musical?", or b) there aren't enough show-stopping numbers to pull us into a fit of awe.
There is a plethora of pretty (but instantly forgettable) songs, all performed flawlessly by Holliday, Martin, or both, and there are plenty of charming jokes to give us an easy laugh, but there isn't that satisfying "oomph" you might feel as you're watching "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" or "The Band Wagon." Half the fun of a musical is achieving the feeling of escapism and happiness, but "Bells Are Ringing" spends more time with plot than true fun.
But none of the issues seem to fall onto the two leads, both of whom leave the project unscathed. Holliday, as usual, is wonderful, going far past her usual "dumb-blonde" routine and making us truly care about her character. She is certainly fresh in this kind of genre, as she isn't jaw-droppingly gorgeous (cough cough, Marilyn Monroe, Betty Grable, Cyd Charisse, etc.) and doesn't have a singing-voice a la Judy Garland. She has a special kind of quality in which we love her almost instantaneously. Holliday truly gives "Bells Are Ringing" the boost it needs.
The same goes for Martin, whose voice and charm makes him perfect for the role. Though he often times was more famous for his many film collaborations with Rat-Pack buddy Frank Sinatra, this film shows him at his finest. He sings a couple of tunes that most likely made the female crowd swoon in 1960, and whenever he's down on his luck in the film, it isn't hard to feel sorry for him. Martin and Holliday don't always make sense as a couple, but they're both individually excellent.
"Bells Are Ringing" is far from being the best example of a musical comedy, but there are a few enjoyable moments that make it worth a look.
½ December 25, 2012
Minnelli's last collaboration with Arthur Freed is an old-fashioned, moderately entertaining musical that suffers from lack of chemistry between Judy Holliday and Dean Martin.
October 1, 2012
Judy Holliday's performance was great and I enjoyed her job. How fun would that be to work at Susanswerphone! I did, however, find the songs lacking and Dean Martin boring.
July 20, 2012
I love this movie if only for its ability to help me imagine what seeing Judy Holliday perform on Broadway must've been like. Oh, for a time machine.
June 21, 2012
Yep, I got a new favorite film.
½ November 22, 2011
After doing this Musical I just had to see it. They changed too much of the music without really having a reason to and it's such an absurd idea that it really just doesn't translate over very well.
June 11, 2011
A sweet harmless rom com musical about an answering service employee who falls in love with one of her clients' voices and begins to meddle in all her clients' lives. The film would have been lame without the incomparable Judy Holliday (if you haven't seen her in 'Born Yesterday' watch it now!), the music is pretty bad and Dean Martin plays himself, but she saves it.
jjnxn
Super Reviewer
June 7, 2011
Sweet, good natured comedy. Wonderful supporting cast but the shining light of the whole thing is Judy Holliday a truly unique talent. She glows when ever she's on screen. Sadly this was her last film. A real loss.
½ April 19, 2011
A very entertaining musical about answering service operator played by Judy Holliday.
December 18, 2010
In yet another role written for her, Judy makes everyone fall in love with her.
Super Reviewer
November 22, 2010
I really liked Holliday in this movie, her last, it's fun and has good songs. The story is funny and romantic, and I recommend this movie.
½ August 27, 2010
Judy Holliday is the prototype for AmeliƩ in this movie, and irresistibly lovable.
½ March 15, 2010
Classic musical fluff that is brainless but thoroughly entertaining. While there are a couple good numbers, the music (by Jule Styne) is, on the whole, unmemorable, as is the choreography. Fortunately the entire movie is lifted immeasurably by Judy Holliday's charming and hilarious turn as an infatuated telephone operator. Holliday is easily one of the most engaging performers on stage and screen, and her talent shines in this, her last film.
½ October 4, 2009
Dean Martin is just the dreamiest....
September 15, 2009
There's nobody more genuine on screen than Judy Holliday and this is my personal favorite of all her movies. I think it's just perfect from start to finish.
August 5, 2009
I don't know, when Minnelli's "on" he's generally very "on", and 'Bells Are Ringing' definitely finds him in a satisfying mode. The film's a little scatterbrained, for sure: Holliday's uncertainty about her relationship with Martin is really stretched to the breaking point, and the vice-squad subplot provides cheaper laughs than usual for Minnelli. Nevertheless, the movie has quite a bit going for it. Comden and Green seem to have taken some cues from the great film-satirist Frank Tashlin; the movie can hardly take itself seriously, and the effect is very positive. Holliday is best when she's channelling the compassionate persuasiveness of her character (not when she's foundering in doubt), and Martin is entirely less macho and domineering than in the Martin & Lewis comedies he'd recently stopped making (a positive shift I think, though I love Martin & Lewis). In fact the movie interestingly regenders typical Hollywood relationship-making, putting Holliday in the driver's seat (if only temporarily). Some of the numbers here are really fantastic, from the basement bookie meeting to the name-dropping game to the reprisal of the romantic dance from 'The Band Wagon'. And what the synopsis author describes as a "muted" tone I think is more a bittersweet tone. This was after all the last Freed, Comden, Green, AND Holliday movie ever made and all rolled into one. That particular fact seems to resonate in the film, as if all of the above were taking their sweet time in saying goodbye. Looking at the movie with semi-severe critical rigor, it might seem that the creators stretched this one a little TOO much, but then I think it's pretty clear here that Minnelli wants us to relax a bit and get some kicks (the frequent Brando lampooning is totally unnecessary but totally hilarious, for example). It's no 'Band Wagon', but it's no dud either. Recommended.
½ July 27, 2009
I agree with the other reviewers that Judy Holliday is the best thing this funny film has going for it. She is delightful to watch. Goofy, loving, and always charming. Frank Gorshin's hilarious Brando impression is also worthy of praise. I found some of the musical numbers to be boring, but the film is otherwise entertaining.
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