Dear Mr. Wonderful

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Dear Mr. Wonderful

Drama, Comedy | 100 mins | Released: 1982
Director: Peter Lillenthal
Starring: Joe Pesci, Karen Ludwig, Frank Vincent, Ed O'Ross, Richard S. Castellano, Ivy Ray Browning, Larry Rapp
Our Rating: 6
Color

In Dear Mr. Wonderful, Ruby Dennis (Joe Pesci) is a small time lounge singer who owns a bowling alley. The film follows his attempts to make it big while struggling against the mob and finding romance with Sharon (Ivy Ray Browning). Dennis lives with his sister, Paula (Karen Ludwig), and her son, Raymond (Evan Handler). Paula quits her job and runs off to help the poor, leaving Dennis to keep Raymond away from a life of crime.

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Movie Notes:

Tony Martin’s cameo in Dear Mr. Wonderful was entirely last minute. He appeared in the film as a favor to Joe Pesci.

Joe Pesci composed the songs heard in the movie, with the help of Larry Fallon.

Many of the crewmembers from Dear Mr. Wonderful went on from this production to work on John Sayles’ Baby It’s You (1983) the following year, including cinematographer ‘Michael Ballhaus’. Sayles’ film was released first in the U.S. while “Dear Mr. Wonderful” premiered in Germany in 1982.

Peter Lilienthal, the film’s director, won “Outstanding Individual Achievement: Direction” in the 1983 German Film Awards.

Notable Quotes from Dear Mr. Wonderful:
Ruby Dennis: “When I was a little kid and the water was cold, my mother always used to say ‘Swim near the fat lady. It’s warmer there.'”

Ruby Dennis: “Anybody will accept what you have to offer if you have the money in your hand.”

Review:
Swing and Bowl with Joe
16 February 2015 | by wes-connors (Earth)
New Jersey lounge singer Joe Pesci (as Ruby Dennis) dreams of making it big in Las Vegas. Arguably acting as a surrogate “man of the house” (or, apartment), Mr. Pesci lives with his sister Karen Ludwig (as Paula) and her son Evan Handler (as Raymond). Pesci owns a business that is both a bowling alley and nightclub showcase for his Vegas-style singing. He wears a toupee and carries a song, a drink and a smoke. However, Pesci is only a shadow of entertainers like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Tony Martin (who appears in a cameo). While Pesci struggles to maintain his business, nephew Handler is tempted by underworld activities…
Director Peter Lilienthal had a limited budget to work with, clearly, and it gives this story a gritty look. Unfortunately, the character Pesci plays is not very appealing. It would help if we felt sorry for him and his obviously hopeless dream. The character profile is sympathetic, but this is not the impression he introduces; later, the situation helps make up some of the difference. An unbelievable romance between Pesci and attractive young Ivy Ray Browning (as Sharon) falls short. Pesci is the big star, but Handler and Ms. Ludwig are the more interesting characters. She leaves the set too often, but both Ludwig and Handler help maintain interest.