Tuesday, February 10, 2009

2/9/09: Mr. Belvedere Rings the Bell (1951)

The day after my pal Jay Steele and I saw Sitting Pretty at a vintage movie house, we sat at his house and watched one of its sequels on DVD. We were prepared for disappointment, as I had brought him up to speed with the curious lineage of Mr. Belvedere Rings the Bell: it's based on a play called The Silver Whistle, which has nothing whatsoever to do with Belvedere—the filmmakers simply wrote him into the existing plot. The result is not, as one critic observed, a bad movie; it's just not a very good Mr. Belvedere movie. That's a real shame, because in retrofitting Clifton Webb's great character to this story, something got lost. The genius of Belvedere is that he's the ultimate narcissist, but in this sappy sequel, he suddenly and inexplicably decides to devote his life to helping the residents of an old-age home. And everybody knows that Mr. Belvedere doesn't actually care about people. It was nice to see Clifton Webb onscreen and making the occasional smartass observation, and it's always a delight to watch Zero Mostel, who has a small role here. But there's little doubt why this proved to be the last Belvedere movie. Rating: 2/5.

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