News Column

Getting to the bottom of a similar 'Mamma Mia' [Telegraph-Herald (Dubuque, IA)]

November 24, 2013


Dear Jerry: My sister-in-law loves Broadway musicals and the movie versions that follow. Her absolutely favorite is "Mamma Mia." I cannot keep count of how many times she has seen the play and the movie.

I saw "Mamma Mia" once. However, I experienced a "deja vu" by vaguely recalling a similar movie. I envision Phil Silvers, the comedian, as an actor in the movie. I also picture a TV show detective though I couldn't tell you which one. Otherwise, I am stumped.

Although I have mentioned this to movie buffs, no one has a clue what movie I could mean.

My sister-in-law says "Mamma Mia" stands on its own and is not based on anything else. When I see my sister-in-law at this year's Christmas dinner, I am determined to report back some findings.

Concerning a "Mamma Mia" predecessor, am I hallucinating? Am I imagining some earlier movie that does not exist? - Elaine S., Philadelphia

Dear Elaine: No to both questions.

There was such a movie in 1968. Its title is "Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell." Phil Silvers appeared in the film as did Telly Savalas (i.e., TV Detective "Kojak").

While there is no official connection between "Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell" and "Mamma Mia," they share strikingly similar story lines. You and other readers can judge for yourselves.

One source is the Internet Movie Database at Another is a book called the "VideoHound's Golden Movie Retriever." For those who wish to consult "VideoHound's," check your public library.

The Internet Movie Database and "VideoHound's" are a useful way to solve many movie issues. If you recall the name of an actor, director, producer or anyone even remotely associated with a film (e.g., Phil Silvers), these two sources enable you to track down the movie title (e.g., "Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell") and much else.

For locating a copy of obscure films, "VideoHound's" is a particularly valuable publication. Its "Video Sources" section lists merchants who offer difficult-to-find videos.

Meanwhile, for your sister-in-law's Christmas gift, you can buy the "VideoHound's Golden Movie Retriever" book and a DVD copy of "Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell."

The 2014 edition of "VideoHound's" is available at general bookstores. You can purchase both "VideoHound's" and the film "Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell" at your favorite shopping Web site (e.g.,,, etc.).

As for the film "Mamma Mia," I trust your sister-in-law owns a copy.

Romansky is a syndicated columnist. Readers are invited to write in English or Spanish: Ask Jerry, P.O. Box 42444, Washington DC 20015. E-mail and (because of spam) write the name of your newspaper in subject heading.

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