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DVD: Cheaper by the Dozen (1950)
Review Rating:   Standard  
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20th Century Fox 
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1 (NTSC)

March 16, 2004



Genre: Comedy / Drama  
In search of a bigger home, the Gilbreths move to a new town, where they raise all twelve children, including wise-cracking sons, and a rebellious teenage daughter.  



Directed by:

Charles Lang
Screenplay by: Lamar Trotti
Music by: Cyril Mockridge
Produced by: Lamar Trotti

Clifton Webb,  Jeanne Crain,  Myrna Loy,  Betty Lynn,  Edgar Buchanan,  Barbara Bates,  Mildred Natwick,  Sara Allgood,  Jimmy Hunt

Film Length: 86 mins
Process/Ratio: 1.33:1
Anamorphic DVD: No
Languages:  English Mono & Pseudo-stereo, Spanish (Mono) / English, Spanish Subtitles
Special Features :  

Movietone Newsreel: "Cheaper By The Dozen Wins Award" (1:10) / Theatrical trailers for "Cheaper By The Dozen" (2003), "Cheaper By The Dozen" (1950), and "Belles On Their Toes"

Comments :

“Well, Lilly, it's over. Twelve of them, and hardly an idiot in the bunch.”

Produced and adapted from the autobiographical Frank B. Gilbreth, Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey book by Lamar Trotti, “Cheaper By The Dozen” remains an enjoyable high concept vehicle for one of 20th Century Fox's best-known stars of the period – Clifton Webb - playing real-life efficiency theoretician & enthusiast, Frank Gilbreth.

After the success of “Sitting Pretty” two years earlier, Webb found more room as the Gilbreth family patriarch, and almost steals scenes from his far younger co-stars. Myrna Loy plays his adoring, patient, and equally clever wife, and while her role is more of a moderate straight man between the rambunctious kids and Webb's time-management antics, the film's unusual finale positions her for the 1952 sequel “Belles On Their Toes.”

Writer/producer Trotti's work during the Forties was far more serious – message pictures, and political biopics, like “Wilson” – but his comedic screenplay bristles with clever witticisms, and a few personalized in-jokes (notably the kids attending Woodrow Wilson High School; and a curious snapshot of Stalin, obviously positioned in the background, during Webb's first scene).

Fox's transfer is made from a decent print, with minor dirt and speckles around the reel changes. Older TV prints tended to suffer from heavy grain and weak colour registration, and this DVD's 35mm source print is a major step up.

Also included on the disc is the film's original trailer (archived in black & white), concluding with an odd quote by “Belvedere” (Webb's “Sitting Pretty” character). There's also a peculiar newsreel, in which a member of the religious Christophers group presents an award a certificate to sister/co-author Ernestine Gilbreth Carey, in place of absent writer/producer Trotti, for creating a family-friendly film.

Rudely updated & remade in 2003.

© 2004 Mark R. Hasan

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