Sitting Pretty (1948)

Toronto Film Society presented Sitting Pretty (1948) on Monday, April 10, 1989 in a double bill with Dream Girl as part of the Season 41 Monday Evening Film Buffs Series “D”, Programme 6.

Production Company: 20th Century Fox.  Producer: Samuel G. Engel.  Director: Walter Lang.  Screenplay: F. Hugh Herbert, based on a novel by Gwen Davenport.  Editor: Harmon Jones.  Cinematographer: Norbert Brodine.  Music: Alfred Newman.

Cast:  Robert Young (Harry), Maureen O’Hara (Tracy), Clifton Webb (Lynn Belvedere), Richard Haydn (Mr. Appleton), Louise Allbritton (Edna Philby), Randy Stuart (Peggy), Ed Begley (Mr. Hammond), Larry Olsen (Larry King), John Russell (Bill Philby), Betty Ann Lynn (Ginger), Willard Robertson (Mr. Ashcroft), Anthony Sydes (Tony), Roddy McCaskill (Roddy), Grayce Hampton (Mrs. Appleton).

Our second feature film tonight is Sitting Pretty directed by Walter Lang.  Lang has also directed such films as State FairCheaper by the DozenThe King and I, and There’s No Business Like Show Business.

Clifton Webb is the actor who plays the character of Lynn Belvedere in tonight’s feature.  Sitting Pretty is the film which introduced the character of Mr. Belvedere.  The film was very sucessful partly due to Webb’s brilliant portrayal of Belvedere.  This made way for two other Mr. Belvedere films: Mr. Belvedere Goes to College directed by Elliott Nugent, and Mr. Belvedere Rings the Bell.  Clifton Webb is also well known for his role as Waldo Lydecker in Otto Preminger’s Laura.  Preminger saw Clifton Webb on stage in “Blithe Spirit”, and decided to replace Laird Cregar who was slotted to play Lydecker.  Clifton Webb did not become a movie star until he was middle aged.  He was an actor known for his intelligence, suave, and wit.  He was nominated three times for an Academy Award–LauraSitting Pretty, and The Razor’s Edge, but never managed to win an Oscar.

Sitting Pretty was one of 1948’s funniest comedies.  The film, as mentioned, features Clifton Webb as the babysitter who disrupts a small town with his contempt for both the children he babysits and the fond parents.  It also features two fine performances from Robert Young and Maureen O’Hara as the proud parents.  As well, Richard Haydn shines as the suburban snoop and prissy gossiper.  The film also features clever dialogue.  The following review from Variety accurately describes tonight’s film: “Inherent humour in the babysitting profession has been slicked up into a surefire comedy…  It kicks off with a chuckle and ends on a belly-laugh.  In between is just about the smoothest package of fun possible…  This picture gives you a babysitter–but what a baby sitter!  Just the thought of Clifton Webb following such a profession is cause enough for mirth, indicating the hilarity to be found in Sitting Pretty“.

Notes by Laurence Dabin

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