Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Cheaper by the Dozen (1950)

I recently attempted to watch this film and couldn't endure it. I think I lasted a very brave 40 something minutes before my patience was completely exhausted. The film tells the story of a family with 12 children (11 when the film starts), but the emphasis is on the father more than any other characters. There isn't really a plot but rather episodes with lose connections, like "Meet me in St Louis" had a few years prior. However it has none of the charm of that film, although it must have been a success in 1950 as it had a sequel in 1952.

What were the problems with it? First and foremost, the script. No plot and annoying characters throughout get you nowhere. Clifton Webb as the father is irritating. His character is at best described rose tinted father in a bad sitcom. And he overacts. He's fine as a sophisticate in "Laura" or "The Razor's Edge" but he seemed to take no real interest here. Myrna Loy is pure background. Jeanne Crain, who seemed to have a larger part in the sections I fast forwarded is way too old for her character. She wanted to be Judy Garland, she's only dull.

The other major point which really annoyed me was the cinematography. This was the dullest Technicolor film I ever saw. The skin colours were way too pastel. Maybe it was just the print used in the DVD [UK R2] but it seemed to me that there was far too much blue and too little red (the Technicolor process divides light in blue, green and red). Technicolor 20th Century Fox films have a distinctive look, not as bright as those say MGM, but nothing like this - just look at the beautiful "Leave Her to Heaven".

Not often a remake is better than the original, but the 2003 version of this film is far more interesting.

The funniest fact about the film, was that I thought I recognised the street from the aforementioned "Meet me in St Louis" - and according to IMDb I was spot on.

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