Singer-actress Rose Marie, best known for her iconic portrayal of Sally Rogers on The Dick Van Dyke Show, made news this past August when she joined Twitter to celebrate her 94th birthday and gained 40,000 followers overnight. Her delight at the attention has been lovely to observe, which makes it hard to report that the new documentary about her life, Wait for Your Laugh, is a disappointment. Without taking a moment to suggest to non-fans the breadth of the ninety-year career he’s about to track, director Jason Wise jumps into an overly exhaustive job-by-job chronology, as if ticking off Marie’s Imdb page.
A treasure trove of archival photos and footage charts the rise, circa 1927, of the four-year-old singing sensation known as Baby Rose Marie. A national radio show soon followed, and later, a nightclub career that found Marie headlining Bugsy Siegel’s Flamingo Hotel. (The Mob loved her.) There’s marvelous in-color backstage footage from The Dick Van Dyke Show but only one scene from the actual show, a decision akin to doing a Lucille Ball doc without clips from I Love Lucy. It’s disconcerting too that interview footage in this sequence has been edited in such a way as to make Marie appear ungracious toward Van Dyke and the late Mary Tyler Moore, which doesn’t appear to have been her intent. Pristine end-credit footage of Marie singing a comic song in its entirety is wonderful, but also too little too late. Rose Marie was — and is — a fabulous talent, but this off-kilter documentary doesn’t completely make the case.
Wait for Your Laugh
Directed by Jason Wise
Opens November 1, Landmark 57