The "Cheaper by the Dozen" crew is back, sans Clifton Webb. Lillian is struggling to make ends meet without her husband's income, while Anne, Martha, and even Ernestine find romance. Written by
BELLES ON THEIR TOES is another nostalgic look at a past that never was. At least that's the impression you get from watching MYRNA LOY worry about her brood of Gilbreth children after father Clifton Webb has passed on. As usual, Loy is likable enough as the strong-willed mother who has to guide her children through what passes for "hard times" but has the look of the '50s rather than the '20s.
This lack of detail makes the film much less enjoyable than CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN. There's also a lack of freshness about the performances of JEANNE CRAIN as the oldest daughter, BARBARA BATES, JEFFREY HUNTER, MARTIN MILNER and ROBERT ARTHUR. It all seems rather pat, standard stuff that passed for wholesomeness in the '50s, before the grim realism of the '60s films set in.
Mother is seen at the graduation ceremony of her girls, which makes room for a flashback to their turbulent "growing up" years that includes the girls being romanced by whatever Fox star hopefuls the casting agent could find. Of the men, JEFFREY HUNTER stands out as the most likely prospect for stardom and is paired nicely with JEANNE CRAIN.
Nostalgia is nice, but the charm wears thin when the film offers nothing new in the way of plot twists and you have to settle for more of the same material offered in the original--without Webb, who gave that film its chief distinction.
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