Dolly Levi (Barbra Streisand) is a highly regarded professional matchmaker at the turn of the 19th century who has been hired by Horace Vandergelder (Walter Matthau) – a “well-known, unmarried half-a-millionaire” – to find him a wife. Dolly, however, decides she wants to marry him herself.
Her complicated scheming enmeshes and confuses many of the people in Vandergelder’s life, but she eventually gets everyone satisfactorily matched.
Hello, Dolly! did not flow quite so easily from Broadway stage to cinema box-office hit as Funny Girl had the year before.
This was variously attributed to Streisand being far too young to play Dolly convincingly, off-stage animosity between Matthau and Streisand carrying over into their on-screen relationship, and Dolly being a character that nobody could really warm to – basically just a woman on the make.
On the plus side, Streisand was peaking in her combined talents as singer, actress and comedienne, Michael Kidd’s dance routines are still wonderful, and the Hello Dolly sequence filmed in the Harmonia Gardens (pictured above), is inspirational.
It seems the appetite for big-budget musicals was simply on the wane, but – retrospectively – this is a top-notch studio extravaganza.