Thursday, January 3, 2013
BELLES ON THEIR TOES
Cheaper by the Dozen was so successful that a sequel was inevitable, despite the fact that the main character played by Clifton Webb died at the end of that movie. In Belles Myrna Loy and Jeanne Crain take center stage as the wife and oldest daughter. Loy's Mrs. Gilbreth, who we learn was also a doctor and engineer like her late husband, is sort of reinvented as an early feminist; Loy seems a little more at home playing the woman than she did in the first picture. Much of the movie details the romantic adventures of daughters Ann (Crain). Martha (Debra Paget), and Ernestine (Barbara Bates). The illegally good-looking Jeffrey Hunter plays a doctor who falls for Ann, and Martin Milner [13 Ghosts] has a smaller role as Al Lynch. The weird butler, Tom (Hoagy Carmichael), seems to have wandered in from a different movie! Verna Felton and Edward Arnold also have roles, the latter as a man who reluctantly goes into business with Loy and has romantic aspirations toward her. Little Jimmy Hunt, who was charming in the first movie, is given no dialogue in the sequel. At one point the movie threatens to turn into a musical when the whole gang sings a forgettable song about, of all things, beans!
Verdict: Where is Clifton Webb when you need him? **1/2.