Bells Are Ringing (1960) & more Judy Holliday

19 Jun

Bells Are Ringing (on TCM Friday, June 21 at 10:00 a.m.)  is a sweet little thing, with  Comden/Green book and lyrics, score by Jule Styne, directed by Vincent Minnelli, and featuring Judy Holliday, Dean Martin, the recently-late-always-great Jean Stapleton and Frank Gorshin. (This is all by way of pedigree, not to show off that I read the credits.) It’s fun, it’s Holliday’s last film and it’s worth watching. But that’s not what I want to talk about.

bells are ringingThere really aren’t any telephone operators anymore. I think they’re self explanatory. But it really wasn’t that long ago that the world had answering services. Technically they still exist, but let’s be honest: no one uses them.

As an actor in college we were told (among the other legal and businesslike pyramid schemes we were encouraged to to take advantage of) that getting an answering service in New York City was a must whether one lived there or not. That long-sought-after Veneer of Professionalism you’ve heard talk about would be yours for a low monthly fee.

Now, you pay for the privilege to record your own outgoing message which you check yourself. No chance for an accidental romantic entanglement with the likes of Judy Holliday. Siri does not and will never care about you, pretend though she may.

(Bells Are Ringing is showing as part of a morning of Holliday films including  Adam’s Rib at 6:30 a.m. and Born Yesterday at 8:15 a.m.)

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