Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Sitting Pretty, 1948

Hummingbird Hill is a typical suburban community, where attorney Robert Young and his wife Maureen O'Hara have trouble finding a nanny to care for their three boisterous kids. Tacey (Maureen) places an ad for a live-in babysitter and general helper (a little light housework is expected), after the last maid departs. Lynn Belvedere accepts the position but turns out to be a man -
but Mr Belvedere is a self-proclaimed genius who proves to be an expert at everything, including children. Mr. Belvedere works miracles with the children and the house but what does he do on his evenings off?. And when Harry has to go out of town on a business trip, a nosy parker starts a few ugly rumors. But everything comes out all right in the end thanks to Mr. Belvedere...
Finally, a dvd of SITTING PRETTY - I know I saw this as a kid at a Sunday revival but it just has not been available since, but I have now got a Spanish dvd, with Spanish optional dialogue and sub-titles, and a booklet in Spanish! I have also got "Sitting Pretty" the biography of Clifton Webb (Clifton wrote the first 6 chapters himself before his death in 1966), which I shall now read with renewed interest. We like Clifton a lot here, as per my other posts on him as a 'Person We Like', and Jean Negulesco's films like WOMAN'S WORLD and BOY ON A DOLPHIN, where he is ideally cast with the likes of Lauren Bacall, Arlene Dahl and the young Sophia Loren ... Of course his '40s hits like LAURA (where his Waldo Lydecker is as iconic as George Sanders' Addison De Witt in ALL ABOUT EVE) and THE RAZOR'S EDGE are also marvellous viewing anytime, and so it is with SITTING PRETTY.

Seeing it again now at this remove is quite interesting. We don't actually see too much of Mr Belvedere - he does not appear until 23 minutes in of this 82 minute film, as we mainly focus on our married couple and their gossipy neighbour Clarence Appleton (Richard Haydn at his prissiest) who lives with his domineering, nosey mother. Appleton comes across as the nosiest, campest, annoying closet case imaginable (if such a term was in use then) - and his scenes with Clifton's Belvedere crackle - like two enemy cats hissing at each other. This is deliciously funny now of course.

Again, we also see this new '40s style suburban living, with those roomy large houses and large cars, all very Hollywood dream factory showing post-war living in the late '40s where everyone is well-off and even have servants (as in A LETTER TO 3 WIVES, ROADHOUSE etc), It also has that 20th Century Fox look in spades, as directed by Walter Lang. O'Hara of course is an attractive presence and makes an ideal mother, as she did the year before in THE MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET.  The superior Mr Belvedere does not actually interact with the children much - even when the baby throws baby food at him we do not see Belvedere retaliating by throwing the baby food dish over the infant, but just hear him scream.... Mr Belvedere is an expert dancer too as we see in that nice scene where he and O'Hara dance - Clifton was of course a champion dancer in the 20s. The ending is nice too with the bigots routed, and a new baby on the way .... and Mr Belvedere's book about Hummingbird Hill and its residents a runaway success. 

Clifton went on to play Mr Belvedere two more times, as well as films like DREAMBOAT, the 1953 TITANIC and THREE COINS IN THE FOUNTAIN, a very individual star ... as per Clifton label.  A 1940s comedy classic then! 


  1. Love that film (and Webb). Dave Smith has a great bio out on Webb, too.

  2. Yes that is the biography I mention above - Webb wrote the first 6 chapters himself.