Bells Are Ringing (film)

Bells Are Ringing is a 1960 American romantic comedy-musical film directed by Vincente Minnelli and starring Judy Holliday and Dean Martin. Based on the successful 1956 Broadway production of the same name by Betty Comden, Adolph Green, and Jule Styne, the film focuses on Ella Peterson, based on the life of Mary Printz,[3] who works in the basement office of Susanswerphone, a telephone answering service.

Bells Are Ringing
Original poster
Directed byVincente Minnelli
Produced byArthur Freed
Written by
Music by
CinematographyMilton Krasner
Edited byAdrienne Fazan
Distributed byMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
  • June 23, 1960 (1960-06-23)
Running time
126 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$3.2 million[1]
Box office$3.6 million[1][2]


Ella Peterson works as a switchboard operator at the Susanswerphone answering service. She can't help breaking the rules by becoming overly involved in the lives of the subscribers. Some of the more peculiar ones include a dentist who composes songs on an air hose, an actor who emulates Marlon Brando, and a little boy for whom she pretends to be Santa Claus.

Ella has a secret crush on the voice of subscriber Jeffrey Moss, a playwright for whom she plays a comforting "Mom" character. She finally meets him face to face, when she brings him a message under a false name (Melisande Scott) and romantic sparks and some confusion begin.

A humorous subplot involves the courtly Otto, who convinces Susanswerphone to take orders for his "mail-order classical record business", known as Titanic Records. Unfortunately, Otto is actually a bookie whose orders are a system for betting on horses. Unwittingly, Ella changes orders for the supposedly incorrect Beethoven's Tenth Symphony, Opus 6, not realizing she is changing "bets".

Although the police begin to assume that Susanswerphone might be a front for an escort service, the plot ends happily, with Jeff proposing, and her wacky subscribers coming to thank her.


(character names are not indicated in on-screen cast credits)

Uncredited (in order of appearance)


Music by Jule Styne, lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green

  • "It's a Perfect Relationship"
  • "Do it Yourself"
  • "It's a Simple Little System"
  • "Better Than a Dream"
  • "I Met a Girl"
  • "Just in Time
  • "Drop That Name"
  • "The Party’s Over
  • "I'm Going Back"

Production notes

Judy Holliday and Jean Stapleton reprised their stage roles for the film. Dean Martin took over the male leading role, and the cast also included Eddie Foy Jr., Fred Clark, Frank Gorshin, Hal Linden and Bernie West. Jazz musician Gerry Mulligan, by this time Holliday's lover, plays her disastrous blind date in a cameo role. Bells Are Ringing was Holliday's final film; she was already ill when production began.[4]

Bells Are Ringing was also the final musical produced by the MGM 'Freed Unit', headed by producer Arthur Freed, which had been responsible for many of the studio's greatest successes, including Meet Me in St. Louis (1944), Easter Parade (1948), On the Town (1949), An American in Paris (1951), Singin' in the Rain (1952), and Gigi (1958). It was the thirteenth and final collaboration between producer Freed and director Vincente Minnelli.

Several songs from the Broadway production were dropped or replaced. These include, "Salzburg", "Hello, Hello There", "On My Own" (replaced by "Do It Yourself"), "Long Before I Knew You" (replaced by "Better Than a Dream"), "Mu Cha Cha" (filmed but shortened) and "Is it A Crime?" (filmed, but cut before release). A new song for Dean Martin, "My Guiding Star" was also filmed but cut. The latter two songs have been released as extras on the Warner Home Video DVD. The soundtrack album was released by Capitol Records.

Awards and nominations

Comden and Green won the Writers Guild of America award for Best American Musical. Together with Styne, they shared a Grammy Award nomination for Best Soundtrack Album or Recording of Original Cast from a Motion Picture or TV. Minnelli earned a Best Director nomination from the Directors Guild of America. André Previn was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Music, Scoring of a Musical Picture. At the 18th Annual Golden Globe Awards, the film was nominated for Best Film - Musical, and Holliday was nominated for Best Actress, - Musical.

Box office

According to MGM records the film earned $2,825,000 in the US and Canada but only $800,000 elsewhere and wound up losing $1,720,000.[1]


  1. The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study.
  2. US and Canada figures see "Rental Potentials of 1960", Variety, 4 January 1961 p 47.
  3. Fox, Margalit (1 March 2009). "Mary Printz, an Ear for the Famous, Dies at 82". The New York Times. Retrieved 1 March 2009.
  4. Robert Osborne, Turner Classic Movies
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.