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The Matchmaker
The Matchmaker
© Paramount Home Entertainment
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The Matchmaker DVD Review

From Diana Saenger,
Your Guide to Classic Movies.
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The story of a matchmaker, someone who finds a mate for someone else, usually for a price, has been a universal tale since days of old. The 1911 film “The Matchmaker” starring Florence Lawrence and Arthur V. Johnson had a similar theme.

Thornton Wilder’s Broadway play “The Matchmaker” spawned his book in 1958, the same year that Paramount made this film starring Shirley Booth, Anthony Perkins, Shirley MacLaine and Paul Ford.

The film’s theme shifts somewhat in that this matchmaker is looking for her own match. Shirley Booth plays Dolly 'Gallagher' Levi, the matchmaker in a small town in the 1900s. Booth is wonderfully brilliant and solely responsible for the humor in this endearing film. Pickin’s in this town are slim, and since Horace Vandergelder (Paul Ford) is a successful businessman who can keep Dolly in the lifestyle she’s accustomed to, she wants the stone-faced, cold-hearted man for herself. But Dolly’s too smart to go directly after him; he’ll only rebuff her.

Instead, Dolly makes believe she’s sitting him up with shopkeeper Irene Molloy (Shirley MacLaine), a young woman who is ready to get to married to anyone. However, Horace’s right-hand clerk Cornelius Hackl (Anthony Perkins) has suddenly taken an interest in Irene. When he accompanies Dolly to Irene’s shop, he must suddenly hide when Horace walks in.

A lot of mix-ups and fast-talking on Dolly’s part has all the characters practically doing cartwheels. Booth’s charm, quick tongue and the great dialogue thanks to Thornton and screenwriter John Michael Hayes, keep viewers rolling with laugher.

The Matchmaker was remade again in 1977 with Janeane Garfalo, Denis Leary and Milo O’Shea. And in case you didn’t recognize it, this play eventually was morphed into the play “Hello Dolly,” which had a long run on Broadway. Read more about Hello Dolly .

Shirley Booth is really the reason for watching this 1958 classic, although Paul Ford does a commendable job as well.

Not rated, the film is offered in Widescreen format.

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