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
I personally thought that Belles on Their Toes held up well as a sequel to Cheaper By The Dozen. Sequels rarely have the same magic of the movies they follow, so it is wise to not make too strong a comparison. Once the characters are accepted on their new terms, Belles on Their Toes is much easier to watch.
The entire movie is a flashback sequence to the events that took place after the prior movie ended. The focus is not on the eccentric Mr. Gilbreth and the humorous view of life in a large family. This time it is placed on the characters themselves. Their situations are less of a focus than their personalities. Myrna Loy is allowed to continue as a strong character, and she gets to show much more depth as Ann Gilbreth than she did in the first movie. The same is true for the oldest Gilbreth daughters, too. Jeanne Crain takes center stage for much of the movie. Debra Paget and Barbara Bates tilt the story toward the girls in the family.
What makes the biggest difference in the feel of the movie is the presence of Hoagy Carmichael and the talented Debra Paget. With Carmichael in the cast it was obligatory that he perform his music. Debra Paget performed a dance routine that would never have been allowed by the conservative Frank Gilbreth. The feel of the 50's replaced the 1920's charm of Cheaper By The Dozen.
Movies are geared toward target audiences. Sequels are created to capitalize on previous successes. Belles on Their Toes is fun to watch, but it cannot be held to the same standard as Cheaper By The Dozen. Accept it on its own and you will have an enjoyable hour and a half while you watch it.
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