Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Cheaper By the Dozen -- 1950

Cheaper By the Dozen

Not Rated (I'd give it a G)
My Rating: 2 Stars

Clifton Webb
Jeanne Crain
Myrna Loy
Betty Lynn
Edgar Buchanan
Barbara Bates
Mildred Natwick
Sara Allgood

Based on best seller by Frank B. Gilbreth, Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey. I'll start by saying that the book is better and except for three very funny incidents, I didn't care for this film.

When Frank Bunker Gilbreth, Sr. and Lillian Moller Gilbreth were married, they decided to have twelve children. Lillie asked if half of them could be girls and Frank said, of course and promptly wrote it down in his memo book so he wouldn't forget. Well, the Gilbreth's did indeed have six boys and six girls and this movie is about them growing up.

The movie is set up in episode like sequences... rather like the book. But the movie only captured a quarter of the fun that is in the book, and except for the three incidents I cited before, it isn't told nearly as well.

One theme that runs continuously throughout the film is the rebellious nature of the two oldest girls. There is some of this attitude in the book but it is infrequent. I wish they had picked something else to concentrate on because it makes the movie almost painful to watch. As children mature, they often have different ideas of how life should be; some good and some not. In this case, it made fun of both the girls and the father as they tried to sort things out.

One thing I loved about the movie was how beautifully Myrna Loy was dressed. I wish I had dresses like that! They are so graceful and feminine, but very practical. Probably part of the reason the dresses were so pretty is because Myrna Loy was such a lady, herself. :-) She acted a wonderful Mrs. Gilbreth.

In conclusion, this film gave a mixed message. Part of it was how wonderful it was to have a large family. The other was all the trouble and heartache that comes with it. I suppose those two could have been mixed better, given a different director. However, as I mentioned before, they really concentrated on the rebellious spirit of the daughters... so unless they changed the script, I'm not sure how it could have been made better.

Read the book. :-) It's refreshing!

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