(1958 c 143')
Adapted from the novel by Patrick Dennis, an eccentric aunt raises her nephew to appreciate cultural diversity and prevents him from marrying into a snobbish family.
Edwin Dennis asks in his will to keep his sister Mame Dennis from influencing his son Patrick. He signs the will on September 14, 1928.
The next day in a car Nora Muldoon (Connie Gilchrist) reads in the newspaper that Edwin Dennis died and tells young Patrick Dennis (Jam Handzlik). They get out of the cab and go up to a an Oriental-looking door. Ito (Yuki Shimoda) asks them to wait because madam is having an affair. They go in to a crowded party. Mame Dennis (Rosalind Russell) comes down the stairs and greets various people. She does not recognize her nephew and assumes Nora came to wash dishes. She realizes she is his Auntie Mame and announces he is her little boy now. She has him take his shoes off and gives him fancy food. She introduces him to Vera Charles (Coral Browne) and Acacius Page (Henry Brandon), hoping his school will take him. She tells Dennis to write down words he does not understand. Lindsay Woolsey (Patric Knowles) says goodnight and leaves with the others. Mame sits down with Patrick, and he reads off words, phrases, and names he does not know. She crumples up the paper and asks if his father talked to him. He lived in Chicago, but she says she will open doors for him. She reads the will and finds Mr. Babcock has been appointed trustee. Patrick says she is not what he expected. He says his father told him that he might be living with her someday and that he would not wish that on a dog. She takes him upstairs to his room and finds it filled with sculptures. She takes him into her room. He lies down and asks when she will be home from the party. He falls asleep, and she covers him with a blanket.
Two weeks later Nora talks to two workmen, saying she is still not up at 2. Patrick shows Mame in bed a model plane he made. She asks for a kiss, and he jumps on the bed and kisses her cheek. He answers the phone and tells her it is Mr. Babcock. She learns he is coming right over. She rouses Vera from another bed. Mame puts on her robe. Vera says she was due at the Theater Guild an hour ago. Mame helps Vera get ready and then gets her help with a wig. They argue, and Mame sends Patrick out.
Dwight Babcock (Fred Clark) arrives, and Ito lets him in. Patrick comes down the stairs and tells him his name and that she will be right down. They sit on a sofa. Patrick offers him a martini and mixes it with barely any vermouth. Mame comes down and shakes hands with Babcock. She wonders why he is drinking during business hours. He wants to discuss the youngster’s proper education. He says all his money is in steady bonds. He must be enrolled in a boys school. Mame says she prefers co-educational schools. She suggests Acacia’s school. Babcock proposes the Browning school. He does not want an experimental school but an exclusive school that is restricted. She thanks him for coming, and he selects the Bixby school. He praises her charm. Vera comes down and goes out.
Babcock goes in the Bixby School and runs out.
Mame has been shopping with Lindsay who carries the boxes. Mame says she is too busy to be a wife. She unlocks the door, and Babcock tells her that he has not been registered at the Bixby School. He found him in a school where they were all naked. Patrick says they were playing fish family. Mame says Babcock is making a scene, and he says he is leaving before she puts him in charge of free love. He says he will take him to a boarding school. She says she will do whatever he says. He tells her to have him ready in the morning and stalks out. Patrick hugs Mame and says he does not want to leave her. She sends him upstairs to get ready for dinner. She asks Lindsay what she should do. She cries. Vera comes in and says the stock market is not working anymore. Lindsay gets a call from his stockbroker. He tells Mame they are all wiped out. He tells Vera that the trustee is making her send Patrick away to school. Vera says she should return to the stage. Mame likes the idea. She and Vera dance and sing.
At the Shubert theater Vera is starring in Midsummer Madness, and Mame has a small part. Backstage Mame is getting ready and almost misses her cue. Vera objects to Mame’s bells on her bracelets. Mame’s bracelet gets stuck on Vera’s dress, and people laugh. Mame is left bowing outside the curtain until she is rescued. Vera says they are ruined. Mame tries to explain, and they leave her alone on the stage behind the curtain. Patrick comes and says she was very good. He is on Thanksgiving vacation and asks if he can escort her back to her hotel. She asks him to take her back to New York. She asks if he is ashamed of her, and he says he is proud of her. He kisses her and offers her his arm. She hugs him.
Mame looks at want ads and works as a telephone operator, but she gets the cords mixed up. Next she tries sales before Christmas. She suggests sending things COD. A southern man pays her with cash to send something to Savannah. She says she only knows how to make out COD purchases. He writes his name Beauregard Jackson Pickett Burnside (Forest Tucker).
Mame walks on the crowded sidewalk. At home Patrick has been decorating with a Picasso. He gives her a small gift, and she opens it and finds a bracelet that looks like diamonds and does not make any noise. She calls Nora and Ito and gives them presents. She says she wants to pay their back salary. Patrick got long pants. Nora says she and Ito had some money put by, and he says they paid the grocery bill. She says she will pay them back if she can. They sing “Deck the Halls.” Mame cries, and Patrick tells her not to. Burnside comes in and says it is a Christmas miracle. He has been trying to find her and says he had to apologize to her. He says she should have an executive position. He says he is in oil that keeps on gushing. He asks her to go out to dinner with him. He invites her to his plantation Peckerwood. He says she looks fine and goes out to tell the taxi to wait. She gets ready, and Nora gives her a flower.
On a southern plantation Burnside is pushing his mother’s wheelchair. Sally Cato saunters up to her and is put down. Patrick says Auntie Mame will be there soon. Mame runs up in a white dress with blonde hair. Burnside introduces her. Sally tells her that horses are the most important thing in Beauregard’s life. Sally announces a hunt, and Mame says she rides side-saddle. Beauregard brings a tray of refreshments.
While Mame is dressing behind a screen, Patrick reads from a book on how to ride a horse. Her boots clunk as she walks. He says he likes Beau who knocks and comes in. He has a camera on a tripod and takes a picture with a flash. Patrick goes out, and Beau says they do not come from the same world. He kneels by her and asks her to—but Sally comes in, and they go out for the hunt.
The men wear red coats and the women black coats. Patrick helps Mame walk. A car brings a horse that Sally picked out for Mame. It seems wild, and Mame embraces Patrick. Two men put steps by the horse which keeps moving. They try to get her on the horse, but she falls off the other side. Then she gets on side-saddle, and Beau starts the hunt. A fox is released, and the horses take off. Mame hangs on while Patrick hopes she will fall off. The horses jump over fences, following the hounds and the fox. The County vet arrives in a car, and they ride by. Beau finds Mame in a bush, and she is holding the fox. The vet accuses Sally of murder for letting her ride that horse. Beau leads a cheer for the future Mrs. Burnside, and he kisses her. The mother suggests they go back to the house for a glass of whiskey. Beau says Mame will have to educate him, and he suggests a trip around the world. Patrick congratulates her, and she says he will join them on his vacations. She promises to write him every day.
Beau and Mame are on an ocean liner waving goodbye. She and Patrick cry at their parting. Mame rides a camel in Egypt and reads a letter from Patrick in Connecticut. She tells Beau that Patrick needs her.
Babcock sees Mame at Patrick’s graduation.
Beau and Mame are up in the Eiffel Tower, and he takes a picture of her and Patrick.
At Rumson University a sculpture with many arms arrives from Mame. Beau and Mame are hiking on a snowy mountain, and she reads a letter about how he is meeting heiresses. Beau takes a picture of her and falls off the cliff.
Vera and an older Lindsay uncover the furniture. Vera says she has not seen her since the funeral, and he says she has changed. Agnes Gooch (Peggy Cass) comes in and says she takes dictation. Mame arrives with the grown-up Patrick Dennis (Roger Smith). She is wearing black and tells him to open his present. He is glad to get short pants. Vera comes in, and Mame hugs her. Mame says she has given up alcohol and everything else. Mame meets her secretary, and they say she is to write her autobiography. Lindsay says he will publish it. Patrick brings her champagne, and she asks for another. Agnes takes down every word she says. Patrick says no women are allowed in the dorm, and she asks how to turn off the secretary. Patrick suggests a ghost writer, but Mame objects. Brian O’Bannion (Robin Hughes) comes in, and Mame welcomes him. He gives her a book of poems. He asks for champagne, and she brings something to put his bad foot on. She asks if he and she can get anyplace with the book, and he says yes.
Mame chattering is followed down the stairs by Agnes who is writing on a pad. Brian is eating while Agnes types and laughs. Agnes is impressed by what Mame has done. Mame answers the phone and tells Lindsay it is coming along. She is invited to a party. Brian takes the phone and says they will come and discuss it. Mame gives Agnes time off. Brian comments on her writing. He has Mame lie down by the fire, and she asks if the public will understand his symbolism. He kisses her, and Agnes comes back in and goes out. He gives Mame a motherly kiss and says he is vitalized. He follows her and embraces her on the sofa. Patrick comes in and sees Brian who goes up to his room. Patrick asks if he is living there. Patrick says it looks cozy, and he asks her to get him out of the house. She says he is her colleague. Patrick mentions Gloria and says he has been going with her for months. He says she is the girl. He says he will bring her back; but he hears Brian and says he will not bring Gloria there if Brian is still there. He has been trying to avoid it, but she wants to meet Mame. He asks her to act like a normal human being. Mame says he has turned into a beastly snob. He is about to leave, but she embraces him and says she loves him. He says Gloria had better like her. She promises to be good. He thanks her and goes out. Brian is singing and asks why she isn’t dressed. He refuses to go to the party alone. Agnes comes back in, and Mame gets the idea to have Agnes go to the party. She takes off her glasses and has her take off her special shoes and then her dress. Mame says she is sending her to the party with Brian, but Agnes says she is too nervous. Mame tells Nora and Ito to help her get ready. Mame tells Agnes that the message of her book is to live, and they run up the stairs. Nora, Ito, and Mame come back down followed by Brian. Mame says she is not going to the party, and he says he is not either. Mame says she has a date for him, but he refuses to take her. Mame says she is a countess. Agnes with a better hairstyle and in an evening gown comes down the stairs. Mame leads her to Brian who says she is enchanting.
Patrick comes in with Gloria Upson (Joanna Barnes), and Mame introduces her. Brian and Agnes leave. Mame takes Gloria’s hand and offers her a drink. She tells how Patrick spoke French showing off. Mame asks how she got her tan, and she says they went down to Fort Lauderdale. Mame asks if she chose a major, and Gloria says she is in liberal arts. Mame asks how they got acquainted. Gloria says they will expect her at the wedding in September. Patrick says they are going to an Italian movie. Patrick asks Mame if she is terrific, and Mame agrees. They leave.
Mame is dressed in white and gives instructions to Ito. Agnes is coming home and tells Ito she lived. Ito says Mame is going to Connecticut.
Gloria’s parents Claude Upson (Willard Waterman) and Doris Upson (Lee Patrick) talk on the patio, and Mame comes out. She admits that she drinks, and he mixes a shaker and gives her a daiquiri with honey and rum. The mother explains how she mixed tuna with peanut butter. She shows Mame photos in their album. The father tells Mame about Patrick’s career on Madison Avenue or the stock exchange. The father suggests he and she buy the newly weds the property next door. He says Abraham Epstein may buy it so they had better work fast. Mame says they have planned everything. She says she will give a family dinner.
Mame’s apartment has been decorated. Patrick comes in and meets Pegeen Ryan (Pippa Scott). They make jokes implying the drawbacks of marriage. Mame comes in and says she is relieved. She wants to return the hospitality offered by Gloria’s parents. Pregnant Agnes thanks Mame for taking her in even though she is an outcast. Pegeen climbs up a ladder and hangs a mobile. Mame sends Agnes upstairs, and Ito lets in Claude and Doris Upson and Gloria. Patrick comes out and shakes their hands. Claude tells a silly joke, and they all laugh. They sit down, and Mame adjusts the level of the furniture with cords. Mame passes out drinks. Dwight Babcock comes in and runs into the mobile. Mame asks Pegeen to raise the mobile. Mame lights their drinks on fire. Ito gives out hors d’oeuvres, and Mame says it is rattlesnake. She introduces Agnes, and Doris ask her to sit by her; but she has difficulty sitting up. Mame helps her up, and Pegeen leads her out. Lindsay and Vera come in, and Mame introduces them. Acacius comes in and hugs Mame who gives him lotus juice. Patrick helps Pegeen on the ladder and puts his arms around her. Vera toasts the couple, and Patrick points out who is Gloria. Vera says that is a pity. Lindsay presents the pages of Mame’s book. Gloria did not know she was literary. Gloria says she could write a whole book by her. She says she was in a ping pong tournament and squashed the ball. She says it was ghastly. Vera likes the story she read, and Agnes says she is proud because the last chapter is about her fighting the stigma of the unwed mother. Vera tells how Patrick undressed her and put her to bed. Patrick reads a note by Brian claiming half the royalties as her editor. Agnes realizes that it was Brian, not Gary Cooper. Gloria quarrels with Patrick, and she stalks off. Lindsay says that Mame has turned over her royalties to the cellist Abraham Epstein. Claude and Doris leave with Gloria. Babcock tells Mame that she ruined everything. She says the boy wants something he never heard of. She won’t let him put her boy in a safety deposit box. She says Patrick does not want to be in a restricted community. Babcock leaves. Vera asks Mame if she planned all that, and she offers them rattlesnake. Patrick thanks Mame.
Mame sends a letter to Patrick and Pegeen from India. Mame and a boy show an Indian sword to Patrick and Pegeen. Patrick and Pegeen will not let their son go to India with Mame, but he persuades them to change their minds. Pegeen says he must be back for school after Labor Day. Mame tells the boy to write down all the words he does not understand. She says she will open up doors for him. Pegeen says she is the pied piper. Mame takes the boy upstairs telling him about romantic visions.
This comedy portrays a creative and liberal woman who helps her son explore various kinds of people and activities. The conservative trustee sends him to a boarding school and plans a career for him in finance; but the nephew has been exposed to more interesting things and realizes that a conservative and snobbish girl is not for him.