Gypsy


2h 29m 1962
Gypsy

Brief Synopsis

A domineering mother pushes her two daughters to burlesque stardom.

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Musical
Biography
Adaptation
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Jan 1962
Premiere Information
New York opening: 1 Nov 1962
Production Company
Warner Bros. Pictures
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the musical Gypsy , book by Arthur Laurents, music by Jule Styne, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim (New York, 21 May 1959), which was based on the book Gypsy, a Memoir by Gypsy Rose Lee (New York, 1957).

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 29m
Sound
4-Track Stereo (RCA Sound System)
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Synopsis

During the 1920's in the heyday of vaudeville, Rose, an aggressive and domineering woman, vows to make stars of her two young daughters, June and Louise. Aided by Herbie Sommers, an agent who has fallen in love with her, she secures for June some bigtime circuit bookings, while the seemingly less talented Louise remains in the background. As the years pass, however, June becomes too old for her mother's childish act, and she decides to go it alone. Rose shakes off the initial hurt and concentrates on making a star performer out of Louise. But talking pictures have led to the decline of vaudeville, and bookings are scarce. Consequently, the troupe ends up at a third-rate burlesque house in Wichita. Rose is at first violently opposed to her daughter's working in such a place, but she finally acquiesces. One of the strippers is arrested for shoplifting, and the once demure, shy Louise becomes her replacement. Fame is quick to follow, and as Gypsy Rose Lee she becomes the highest paid star in burlesque. Rose still tries to run her daughter's life, but Gypsy is determined to do things her own way, and mother and daughter have a falling out. Following a violent quarrel, Rose walks onto an empty stage and cries out her frustrations to a deserted theater. After listening from the wings, Gypsy embraces her mother, and the two are reconciled. Songs : "Let Me Entertain You" ("Baby" June, "Dainty" June, Louise), "Some People," "Small World," "Everything's Coming Up Roses," "Rose's Turn" (Rose), "You'll Never Get Away From Me" (Rose & Herbie), "Mr. Goldstone" (Rose & chorus), "Baby June and the Newsboys" ("Baby" June), "Little Lamb" (Louise), "Dainty June and Her Farmboys" ("Dainty" June), "If Mama Was Married" (Louise & "Dainty" June), "All I Need Is the Girl" (Tulsa & Louise), "Together Wherever We Go" (Rose, Louise & Herbie), "You Gotta Have a Gimmick" (Tessie, Mazeppa & Electra).

Photo Collections

Gypsy - Movie Poster
Here is the American one-sheet movie poster for Gypsy (1962), starring Natalie Wood and Rosalind Russell. One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Musical
Biography
Adaptation
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Jan 1962
Premiere Information
New York opening: 1 Nov 1962
Production Company
Warner Bros. Pictures
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the musical Gypsy , book by Arthur Laurents, music by Jule Styne, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim (New York, 21 May 1959), which was based on the book Gypsy, a Memoir by Gypsy Rose Lee (New York, 1957).

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 29m
Sound
4-Track Stereo (RCA Sound System)
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Award Nominations

Best Cinematography

1962

Best Costume Design

1962

Best Score

1962

Articles

Gypsy


When Warner Bros. released its lavish screen adaptation of the hit stage musical Gypsy in 1962, everything was coming up roses for all involved - unless, of course, you were Ethel Merman, who had starred in the play on Broadway. As had already happened several times in her career, she was once again passed over for a more bankable name.

Gypsy was based on the early career of Gypsy Rose Lee, the most famous stripper in burlesque history. Lee had become a superstar of the '30s and '40s thanks to columnists like Walter Winchell, who raved about her wit and intellectual aspirations. She won approval from critics when she published a mystery novel, The G-String Murders (filmed as Lady of Burlesque, with Barbara Stanwyck, in 1943) and hobnobbed with literary greats like Carson McCullers and W.H. Auden. She even managed to bring stripping to Broadway, despite an edict by Mayor Fiorello La Guardia banning burlesque in New York City. In 1957, Lee published her memoirs, a book focusing on her early years in vaudeville - she was on-stage from infancy - and Mama Rose, the stage mother who pushed her to the top.

Broadway producer David Merrick had optioned the stage rights to Gypsy after reading just one chapter, and turned to Jerome Robbins, who had just scored with West Side Story (1961), to direct, choreograph and supervise the adaptation. Betty Comden and Adolph Green signed to do the script, but couldn't figure out how to adapt Lee's memoir. So they went back to Hollywood, and Robbins brought in Arthur Laurents, who had written West Side Story. They had even more trouble finding a composer. Both Cole Porter and Irving Berlin turned them down, also stating they didn't think the book could be adapted. Then they turned to Stephen Sondheim, who had written the lyrics for West Side Story and was burning to write stage music as well. He gladly accepted, only to be vetoed by the star they'd signed to play Mama Rose, Ethel Merman. Merman insisted on a more experienced composer, suggesting Jule Styne, who had been her vocal coach during her early movie days in the '30s. By that point, Styne had a string of hit shows to his name, so Merrick and Robbins welcomed him to the project, with Sondheim providing lyrics. Although he resented the demotion, he had to be happy with the number of hit tunes that came out of the collaboration - "Small World," "Everything's Coming Up Roses," "Together, Wherever We Go" and "All I Need Is the Girl." The show was a big hit, running almost two years on Broadway, which made a film version almost inevitable.

A hit show with a juicy role for an older actress was not about to escape the notice of producer Frederick Brisson, who was married to Rosalind Russell. He had previously cast his wife in film versions of A Majority of One (1961), which Gertrude Berg had written and starred in on Broadway, and Five Finger Exercise (1962), which he had produced on Broadway with Jessica Tandy in the lead. To edge out the competition, he optioned the screen rights to Gypsy as well (though Russell would vehemently deny this in her memoirs), then passed them on to Warner Bros. with his wife as part of the package. Although Merman and her fans were devastated, most Hollywood insiders accepted the fact that Russell's name had more marquee power.

Though she had starred in the stage musical Wonderful Town ten years earlier, Russell's voice didn't have the power required for the score. After listening to her recording of the numbers, even Russell had to agree that she would need to be dubbed, though she would deny this, too, in her memoirs. Russell's voice was used only for the patter portions of the numbers. For the real singing, Broadway belter Lisa Kirk, who had starred in the original stage production of Kiss Me, Kate, modulated her voice to a near perfect match for Russell's.

Natalie Wood was the only choice to play Gypsy, though her slender figure wasn't quite suitable for the statuesque burlesque queen. And since her character's songs weren't as demanding, she got to do most of her own singing. Only the high notes were dubbed. As had happened with West Side Story the year before, Marni Nixon was used to match Wood's vocal quality.

During production, there was no match possible between Wood's and Russell's temperaments. The two simply didn't get along. Russell feared the younger actress, who had the advantage of a long-term contract at Warner Bros., would take the focus away from her, so she treated her with frosty condescension. Wood resented her behavior, hiding behind her growing entourage and demanding her dressing room be expanded to match the size of Russell's. Wood then stayed there whenever possible to avoid Russell and just to unnerve the older actress, arrived late on the set for every one of their scenes together.

The publicity campaign for Gypsy fulfilled the older actress' worst fears. It focused almost entirely on Wood, promoting her cleaned-up strip numbers with the slogan "The Girl Who Became the Greatest Show in Show Business." Russell, however, dominated the reviews, though most of them complained about her replacing Merman in the role of Rose. But she did triumph at the Golden Globes, winning a record-setting fifth award there. She was overlooked at Oscar® time, however, even though the film scored nominations for Harry Stradling's cinematography, Orry-Kelly's costumes and Frank Planer's musical adaptation. Though the film did well at the box office, it did not re-establish Russell as a top star. It would be three years before she would return to the screen, as the high-spirited mother superior in The Trouble With Angels (1966).

Producer/Director: Mervyn LeRoy
Screenplay: Leonard Spigelgass
Based on the Musical by Arthur Laurents, Jule Styne and Stephen Sondheim, Adapted from Gypsy, a Memoir by Gypsy Rose Lee
Cinematography: Harry Stradling, Sr.
Art Direction: John Beckman, Ralph S. Hurst
Music: Frank Perkins
Cast: Rosalind Russell (Rose), Natalie Wood (Louise aka Gypsy Rose Lee), Karl Malden (Herbie Sommers), Paul Wallace (Tulsa No. 2), Betty Bruce (Tessie Tura), Parley Baer (Mr. Kringelein), Suzanne Cupito (she later changed her name to Morgan Brittany) as "Baby" June, Ann Jillian ("Dainty" June), Faith Dane (Mazeppa), Harvey Korman (Phil), Jack Benny (Himself).
C-144m. Letterboxed.

by Frank Miller

Gypsy

Gypsy

When Warner Bros. released its lavish screen adaptation of the hit stage musical Gypsy in 1962, everything was coming up roses for all involved - unless, of course, you were Ethel Merman, who had starred in the play on Broadway. As had already happened several times in her career, she was once again passed over for a more bankable name. Gypsy was based on the early career of Gypsy Rose Lee, the most famous stripper in burlesque history. Lee had become a superstar of the '30s and '40s thanks to columnists like Walter Winchell, who raved about her wit and intellectual aspirations. She won approval from critics when she published a mystery novel, The G-String Murders (filmed as Lady of Burlesque, with Barbara Stanwyck, in 1943) and hobnobbed with literary greats like Carson McCullers and W.H. Auden. She even managed to bring stripping to Broadway, despite an edict by Mayor Fiorello La Guardia banning burlesque in New York City. In 1957, Lee published her memoirs, a book focusing on her early years in vaudeville - she was on-stage from infancy - and Mama Rose, the stage mother who pushed her to the top. Broadway producer David Merrick had optioned the stage rights to Gypsy after reading just one chapter, and turned to Jerome Robbins, who had just scored with West Side Story (1961), to direct, choreograph and supervise the adaptation. Betty Comden and Adolph Green signed to do the script, but couldn't figure out how to adapt Lee's memoir. So they went back to Hollywood, and Robbins brought in Arthur Laurents, who had written West Side Story. They had even more trouble finding a composer. Both Cole Porter and Irving Berlin turned them down, also stating they didn't think the book could be adapted. Then they turned to Stephen Sondheim, who had written the lyrics for West Side Story and was burning to write stage music as well. He gladly accepted, only to be vetoed by the star they'd signed to play Mama Rose, Ethel Merman. Merman insisted on a more experienced composer, suggesting Jule Styne, who had been her vocal coach during her early movie days in the '30s. By that point, Styne had a string of hit shows to his name, so Merrick and Robbins welcomed him to the project, with Sondheim providing lyrics. Although he resented the demotion, he had to be happy with the number of hit tunes that came out of the collaboration - "Small World," "Everything's Coming Up Roses," "Together, Wherever We Go" and "All I Need Is the Girl." The show was a big hit, running almost two years on Broadway, which made a film version almost inevitable. A hit show with a juicy role for an older actress was not about to escape the notice of producer Frederick Brisson, who was married to Rosalind Russell. He had previously cast his wife in film versions of A Majority of One (1961), which Gertrude Berg had written and starred in on Broadway, and Five Finger Exercise (1962), which he had produced on Broadway with Jessica Tandy in the lead. To edge out the competition, he optioned the screen rights to Gypsy as well (though Russell would vehemently deny this in her memoirs), then passed them on to Warner Bros. with his wife as part of the package. Although Merman and her fans were devastated, most Hollywood insiders accepted the fact that Russell's name had more marquee power. Though she had starred in the stage musical Wonderful Town ten years earlier, Russell's voice didn't have the power required for the score. After listening to her recording of the numbers, even Russell had to agree that she would need to be dubbed, though she would deny this, too, in her memoirs. Russell's voice was used only for the patter portions of the numbers. For the real singing, Broadway belter Lisa Kirk, who had starred in the original stage production of Kiss Me, Kate, modulated her voice to a near perfect match for Russell's. Natalie Wood was the only choice to play Gypsy, though her slender figure wasn't quite suitable for the statuesque burlesque queen. And since her character's songs weren't as demanding, she got to do most of her own singing. Only the high notes were dubbed. As had happened with West Side Story the year before, Marni Nixon was used to match Wood's vocal quality. During production, there was no match possible between Wood's and Russell's temperaments. The two simply didn't get along. Russell feared the younger actress, who had the advantage of a long-term contract at Warner Bros., would take the focus away from her, so she treated her with frosty condescension. Wood resented her behavior, hiding behind her growing entourage and demanding her dressing room be expanded to match the size of Russell's. Wood then stayed there whenever possible to avoid Russell and just to unnerve the older actress, arrived late on the set for every one of their scenes together. The publicity campaign for Gypsy fulfilled the older actress' worst fears. It focused almost entirely on Wood, promoting her cleaned-up strip numbers with the slogan "The Girl Who Became the Greatest Show in Show Business." Russell, however, dominated the reviews, though most of them complained about her replacing Merman in the role of Rose. But she did triumph at the Golden Globes, winning a record-setting fifth award there. She was overlooked at Oscar® time, however, even though the film scored nominations for Harry Stradling's cinematography, Orry-Kelly's costumes and Frank Planer's musical adaptation. Though the film did well at the box office, it did not re-establish Russell as a top star. It would be three years before she would return to the screen, as the high-spirited mother superior in The Trouble With Angels (1966). Producer/Director: Mervyn LeRoy Screenplay: Leonard Spigelgass Based on the Musical by Arthur Laurents, Jule Styne and Stephen Sondheim, Adapted from Gypsy, a Memoir by Gypsy Rose Lee Cinematography: Harry Stradling, Sr. Art Direction: John Beckman, Ralph S. Hurst Music: Frank Perkins Cast: Rosalind Russell (Rose), Natalie Wood (Louise aka Gypsy Rose Lee), Karl Malden (Herbie Sommers), Paul Wallace (Tulsa No. 2), Betty Bruce (Tessie Tura), Parley Baer (Mr. Kringelein), Suzanne Cupito (she later changed her name to Morgan Brittany) as "Baby" June, Ann Jillian ("Dainty" June), Faith Dane (Mazeppa), Harvey Korman (Phil), Jack Benny (Himself). C-144m. Letterboxed. by Frank Miller

Quotes

You really would have been something, Mother.
- Louise 'Gypsy Rose Lee' Hovick
Think so?
- Rose Hovick
If you had had someone to push you like I had.
- Louise 'Gypsy Rose Lee' Hovick
If I could've been, I would've been. And that's show business.
- Rose Hovick
Hello, everybody. My name is June. What's yours?
- Baby June

Trivia

The real Gypsy Rose Lee visited the set and gave Natalie Wood some tips on her stripping routines.

Most of Rosalind Russell's songs were dubbed by' Lisa Kirk' . However, Russell's voice can be heard in "Mr. Goldstone" and parts of "Rose's Turn" and in the cut "Together Wherever We Go".

Veteran songwriter Jule Styne, who composed the songs for "Gypsy," can be seen during the opening credits leading the orchestra in the overture.

Notes

Lisa Kirk's voice is heard in some of Rosalind Russell's numbers.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Winter December 1962

Technirama

Released in United States Winter December 1962