Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, February 8, 2018


Scene-stealers: George "Foghorn" Winslow and Clifton Webb
MR. SCOUTMASTER (aka Mister Scoutmaster/1953). Director: Henry Levin.

Robert Jordan (Clifton Webb) has an intellectual TV show, but the ratings are dropping because it doesn't appeal to children. Jordan decides to correct this by getting to know the little darlings, and when the old scoutmaster flees, he takes over the man's position. At first the boy scouts are mightily unimpressed by Jordan, but he does manage to bond -- sort of -- with the littlest cub scout, Mike (George "Foghorn" Winslow), an adorable kid who doesn't quite have the propensity for telling the truth. As Jordan's lovely wife Helen (Frances Dee) begins falling in love with Mike, Jordan discovers the rather dismal reality of the youngster's home life, but can't get past the fact that he was lied to. Will his much, much wiser and warmer wife be able to break through her husband's stony reserve and get him to admit his feelings for the child? Mr. Scoutmaster boasts several fine performances, from the always-excellent Webb, the delightfully deadpan Winslow, the warm and winning Dee [So Ends Our Night], and Edmund Gwenn [Them] as Dr. Stone, as well as a host of talented youngsters. Veda Ann Borg also scores as little Mike's slattern of an aunt. This is a cute and funny picture, but I have to say. softie that I am, that it also gave me a lump in my throat. Webb and Gwenn also appeared together in For Heaven's Sake.

Verdict: Sentimental, moving, and amusing in equal measure. ***.


angelman66 said...

Have never seen this one either, though I am a huge fan of the wonderfully effete Clifton Webb; Sitting Pretty and Mr. Belvedere Rings the Bell (with an adult Shirley Temple) are among my favorites, in addition to Laura of course. Funny how Hollywood and the public allowed obviously gay characters to thrive, as long as nothing was ever mentioned about sexuality. Webb's persona was gay as a goose even when he played a married man...fascinating!

William said...

Yes, it was fascinating when you consider how often he played husbands and daddies in pictures like "Cheaper by the Dozen" and "Remarkable Mr. Pennypacker," in which he had two wives and many, many children. Webb was one of those actors who could pretty much play anything despite his "obvious" persona.Good, because he gave many fine performances.