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Call Me Madam

Call Me Madam(1953)

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The opening title cards of this film read: "Twentieth Century-Fox presents Irving Berlin's Call Me Madam." After the opening credits, a written prologue states: "This story of the past, 1951, takes place in two mythical countries...One is called Lichtenburg, the other the United States of America." In addition to the songs listed above, brief snippets of "Lichtenburg Song" and "Washington Square Dance," written by Berlin, are heard. As noted by contemporary sources, "They Like Ike" was the only song written by Berlin for the long-running Broadway musical Call Me Madam that did not appear in the film version. Instead, Berlin's 1913 hit "That International Rag" was used, because the filmmakers felt "They Like Ike," which eventually became Dwight D. Eisenhower's popular campaign song "I Like Ike," was too political.
       According to a modern source, Ethel Merman, for whom Call Me Madam was written, received ten percent of the profits from the Broadway show and the sale of the film rights. Lilia Skala, who played "Grand Duchess Sophie," was the only other cast member of the Broadway show to reprise her role for the film. As noted by numerous contemporary sources, the musical was inspired by the life and career of Perle Mesta (1889-1975), a wealthy American socialite and renowned party-giver who, in 1949, was appointed by President Harry S. Truman to be the first United States ambassador to Luxembourg.
       Hollywood Reporter news items include William Lester and Adele Taylor in the cast, but their appearance in the completed picture has not been confirmed. A August 1, 1952 Hollywood Reporter news item noted that a second unit photographed special background material in Washington, D.C. for the production. Call Me Madam, which marked George Sanders' onscreen singing debut, received an Academy Award nomination for Best Costume Design (Color) and an Academy Award for Best Music (Scoring of a Musical Picture). The picture also marked Merman's first film appearance since the 1943 United Artists release Stage Door Canteen. According to a modern source, Carol Richards dubbed Vera-Ellen's vocals.