Sunday, June 9, 2013

My Mr. Belvedere Is Not Yours

sitting pretty movie mr. belvedereMr. Belvedere Season Three arrived on DVD and somehow ended up on my doorstep, a faint reminder of an old celluloid friend I haven't seen for three decades. No, it's not the character played by Christopher Hewitt in the TV sitcom.

Unfortunately I can't review this DVD because of my profound love for the first two of the three Mr. Belvedere movies from the late-1940s which have only ever been released on VHS. I caught the first two on weekend and late night TV movie airings in the 1970s and they quickly became some of my favorite classic comedies.

These feature films starred the impeccably prissy Clifton Webb as Mr. Belvedere, it's the most well-rounded character of his career and a rare starring role for this popular supporting actor.

Mr. Belvedere Goes To CollegeThe first, Sitting Pretty directed by Walter Lang, is a riot as this erudite genius, who has seemingly been everywhere and done everything, goes to work as a live-in nanny for a typical American family so he can secretly write a tell-all book. Pretty modern concept, huh? Robert Young and Maureen O'Hara co-starred. It was a big hit with movie-goers.

Mr. Belvedere Goes To College was the hilarious sequel - it turns out the guy who knows it all never got his college degree so he enters the University as a freshman and proclaims that he will finish the four year curriculum in just a few weeks. The college allows him to join the students with the proviso that he attract no publicity, his book about suburban life touched off a firestorm, after all. A mostly grownup Shirley Temple co-stars in this totally charming and funny 1949 prequel to Animal House.



The third entry was the abominable Mr. Belvedere Rings The Bell wherein Belvedere goes underground to live in an old folks home in order to pen an expose. There are a couple of laughs but way too many maudlin moments - it's the film that killed the franchise. Zero Mostel co-starred. It might not have been so bad if the much-too-young actors playing the elderly folks weren't so phony.

Any other Mr. Belvedere just won't do. I understand the TV version was a solid family comedy from the 1980s ala Silver Spoons and I'm sure kids that enjoyed the show will get a nostalgic boost from seeing it again. Myself, I want to see the Clifton Webb Mr. Belvedere movies again.

The movie is no longer online but the Lux Radio Theater version is:



The character was revisited once again in 1952... sort of.



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