Films, Books, Musings-With the Glamour of Old Hollywood and the Flair of the Retro

Daddy Long Legs- A Movie Review.

In Movies on September 26, 2012 at 4:03 pm

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Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. 1955. Colour. Musical.

While on a business trip in France, wealthy American businessman Jervis Pendleton III (Fred Astaire) needs assistance with his car and wanders into a nearby orphanage to find a telephone. While waiting there he watches the bright and bubbly 18 year old resident, Julie Andre (Leslie Caron) as she interacts with the children. Delighted by her, yet made aware of their great age difference he decides to arrange for her to be sent to an American college and anonymously sponsors her financially.

From college she writes him letters with the salutation ‘Dear Daddy Long Legs’, for all she knows of him is that one of the orphans saw him only briefly from a window and noticed his shadow, long against the wall, as he left the orphanage. Pendleton never bothers to read her many letters until one day when his assistant Mr Griggs (Fred Clark) gives in to the pleas of the secretary Alicia Pritchard (Thelma Ritter) who is tired of filing the unanswered letters.

” Jervis, a person is not a corporation. A person is flesh and blood and feelings and has to be treated as such.”

Pendleton reads through the file of Julies’ letters and arranges to meet her via his niece, also Julie’s roomate, at a college dance. He does not reveal his identity to her as they dance and talk and even upon further meetings, as their feelings deepen.

Leslie Caron is charming and unaffected as the French girl given the gift of a chance of education in America. Her excitement is contagious, especially when she discovers the trunk of beautiful gowns Pendleton has delivered to her. We also feel her frustration and sadness at the way Daddy Long Leg’s pays no attention to her or her academic achievements.

Leslie Caron plays the part with an innocence that makes it a little easier to accept the age difference (30 years) between Julie and Pendleton. It may also affect your opinion of the relationship between a college girl and her ‘sugar daddy’ to know that Fred Astaire played the part sensitively and in spite of suffering a personal crisis. The day before Daddy Long Legs was due to commence filming his wife of 21 years, Phyllis Potter died of lung cancer. Astaire was devastated and offered to pay production costs upon his resignation from the film. Twentieth Century Fox was set to hire Maurice Chevalier to replace Astaire, but his friends talked him into doing the film to help him with move through his grief. Knowing this, one of my favourite songs, also in the film, “Dream” is especially touching.

Musical fans will also enjoy the lively music and dance numbers, especially “Something’s Gotta Give” and “Sluefoot”. Astaire asked for Caron to play the role after seeing her dance in American in Paris, and they are very graceful together.

Fans of the recently deceased writer Nora Ephron might be interested to know that the 1955 screenplay of Daddy Long Legs was written by her parents Phoebe Ephron and Henry Ephron. This version is the fourth of six movies based on the novel by 1912 novel by Jean Webster, another version being Curly Top 1935 with Shirley Temple.

The novel Daddy Long Legs is available to read on your kindle for free Amazon.com

Daddy Long Legs is available on DVD. Try these links below.

Amazon.com

Fishpond Australia

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