Mr. Belvedere Rings the Bell (1951) Poster

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Balm For The Old Folks
bkoganbing12 December 2010
This last Belvedere film that Clifton Webb did is the answer to an interesting trivia question which is what role was played by both Jose Ferrer and Clifton Webb. No, that does not mean that Ferrer ever played the part of Belvedere.

Mr. Belvedere Rings The Bell is an adaption of a recent Broadway play, The Silver Whistle which Jose Ferrer starred in on Broadway for 219 performances during the 1948-49 season. Ferrer finds a birth certificate of a man who would have been 77 years old and through this gains entrance to a senior citizen home run by a church. He brings quite a bit of change to their lives while there.

Darryl F. Zanuck bought this for 20th Century Fox and adapted it to fit Mr. Belvedere. But instead of looking for some real lodging, Clifton Webb is doing this as a kind of sociological experiment, to test some theories he's written in a new bestseller about staying young. Webb interrupts his book tour much to the chagrin of Zero Mostel who is his agent and has some really good scenes in this film.

Frances Brandt, William Lynn, Kathleen Comegys, and Doro Merande all repeated their roles from Broadway as the senior citizen residents of this home. Hugh Marlowe and Joanne Dru play the reverend and the social worker who run the home and whom Webb helps to make realize they have more in common than the home.

One thing I will have to say that is completely ludicrous though. Clifton Webb was 62 when he made the film and looked it. The film says that he is 46 and trying to pass himself off to the seniors as a man who looks and feels young because of his way of living and looking at life with some ancient Tibetan medicine. That was just completely ridiculous and I think Clifton Webb knew it. Maybe that was why there were no more Belvedere films for him.

Still Webb left us with a priceless character on the screen for which he is most remembered and we can be grateful for the three films we do have.
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Touching and Not Condescending
Handlinghandel8 January 2006
Mr. Belvedere teaches the proprietor and residents of a senior citizens' home the power of positive thinking. The ensemble cast of seniors is superb. They are believable and never mawkish. Joanne Dru, who works for the (presumably Episcopal) priest in charge is very generic. It's a standard pretty, understanding, relatively helpful woman role of its time. But a pretty girl was doubtless deemed necessary for putting this across financially.

The residents make us sad when they are gloomy. And when they're happy, we smile. Doro Merande is especially charming -- to me, at least. She reminds me a great deal of my paternal grandmother.

Zero Mostel's comic talents are essentially wasted as Mr. Belvedere's agent. But he's always a pleasure to see. And Webb does very well. He's acerbic but somewhat less grating than in "Mr. Belvedere Goes To College." This was an extremely forward-looking approach to old age for 1951. It doesn't seem at all dated.
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For Whom Mr. Belvedere Tolls
jarrodmcdonald-11 March 2014
The fact that Clifton Webb is posing as another character and they call him by that name throughout the entire picture makes him less Lynn Belvedere and more something (someone) else. I understand that the character is working undercover, but I think this is because they had used a stage play as the basis for this film, and in the play, the character is not Belvedere.

What I do like about this last sequel in the series is that it once again proves Mr. Webb is the best fish-out-of-water in movies. You can put him into any situation with any assortment of odd characters, and he stands out spectacularly. There were hundreds of other situations they could have thrown him into, and when you think about it, the Belvedere franchise could have gone on long as Blondie.
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Not quite as good as the first two Belvedere films, but it's still lovely.
MartinHafer4 February 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Clifton Webb was just wonderful in his Mr. Belvedere films--and it's a shame that this third one was his last in the series. Here, we find Belvedere in a much more serious film than the first two--which were obviously comedies and were played for laughs. Here, however, there is much more social commentary and although there are far fewer laughs, the film manages to be very entertaining and I had a great time watching it.

The film begins with a group of old folks sitting in the park. They are a miserable lot--complaining, feeling depressed and just waiting to die. Belvedere happens to be sitting nearby and his heart goes out to these people--a rare time when this normally stiff and cold character shows some tenderness. So, he concocts a strange plan--to fake his birth certificate and move into the same retirement home where these miserable folks live. Once there, he pretends to be 77 and shows them that there is so much joy to life and getting old does NOT mean getting ready to die! Eventually, Belvedere does what he does in all the films--thoroughly winning even the most ardent opponent over to his fan club!

I agree with another reviewer who liked that the film was not patronizing when it came to the elderly and treated them not only with dignity (not making them objects of laughs) but showed that they were to be valued much more than our society often does. As a result, the film manages to not only be entertaining but educational and socially conscious. A very good film from start to finish.
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Funny and touching
mjabrough6 October 2010
Whilst not having the sudden shock of his appearance as a male "maid" and babysitter in "Sitting Pretty", this third Belvedere film lets Clifton Webb loose on both our laughing equipment and our heartstrings quite wonderfully.

The Belvedere movies are not conceived in the same way, which is refreshing. This one has all the hubris and conceit we take merrily on board from Webb, channelled alarmingly into something like a messianic mission to an old folk's home. Reference to the character's history in "Sitting Pretty" is made at one point, just as it is in "Mr Belvedere goes to College" so the effect is of Clifton Webb popping up randomly on screen like a mushroom under a damp tree - indeed he is first seen silhouetted from behind on a park bench in this film. One wonders how Belvedere floated along, spore-like, from one movie to the next - what did he do in the meantime? Zero Mostel lends very endearing support but must bow to Webb's leading role and, of course, the elderly character actors are all entertainingly and effortlessly used to best effect.

Touching and funny in a (thirdly) different way from the other Belvederes.
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Utterly charming.
David-24010 June 1999
I was expecting a mediocre little comedy and found myself completely entranced by this charming film. Clifton Webb, Zero Mostel and an enchanting group of elderly actors make this film irresistible.

Webb, repeating his role from "Sitting Pretty" enters an old folks' home to teach them how to be young again. And he succeeds. He also manages to bring a young couple together - also well played by Joanne Dru and Hugh Marlowe.

This one'll charm the socks off you.
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Not a bad film...but a very slight comedy.
FilmSon4 October 2005
It is indeed true, as has been posted here, that Clifton Webb's "Lynn Belvedere" character does not blend it in well in this, the 3rd & final film to feature the character. "Mr B Rings the Bell" is based on a play "The Silver Whistle" and the film does indeed suffer for it. The cast tries hard & it has its charming moments but it simply isn't as funny as the 1st two movies that featured the Belvedere character ("Sitting Pretty" & "Mr. Belvedere Goes to College"). This is OK time filler, but nothing more. I'm afraid that Mr. Webb & most of the cast are wasted. The actors who come across the best, I think, are the elderly people who inhabit the rest home that is the setting of the film. And as has been said here at this site, it truly is a shame that there were not more "Mr. Belvedere" movies. That dismal TV sitcom of the 80's with the late Christopher Hewitt had NOTHING whatever to do with the films, except for the main character having the same last name.
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Good Movie, but not a good Belvedere movie.
wmadavis21 September 2001
The wonderful Clifton Webb characterization of Mr. Belvedere that previously appeared in "Sitting Pretty," and "Mr. Belevedere Goes to College" suffers when it is transposed onto the plot of the Broadway play, "The Silver Whistle," by Robert McEnroe. It looks very much like a stage play, with most of the action taking place on a single set. It's a worthwhile play, but Belvedere is a poor fit. Belvedere is usually funny because he is an authentic genius; he is less so when he is acting like a con man. Pity there weren't more Clifton Webb "Belvedere" movies.
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JohnHowardReid1 October 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Copyright 27 July 1951 by 20th Century-Fox Film Corp. New York opening at the Roxy: 1 August 1951. U.S. release: August 1951. U.K. release: 29 October 1951. Australian release: 20 December 1951. 87 minutes. (Long out of print, this film was formerly available on VHS. Fox keep promising to bring out a Belvedere box set on DVD).

NOTES: "The Silver Whistle" opened on Broadway at the Biltmore on 24 November 1948 and ran a very satisfactory 219 performances. Paul Crabtree directed José Ferrer, Doro Merande, Billy Lynn, Kathleen Comegys, Frances Brandt, Jane Marbury, all of whom except for Ferrer reprise their stage roles for the movie.

The last of the three-picture "Belvedere" series, all starring Clifton Webb. The others: Sitting Pretty (1948) and Mr Belvedere Goes to College (1949).

COMMENT: I think this is the best of the Belvederes. I much prefer it to "Sitting Pretty" because it has a finer cast and a much less familiar story. Admittedly it started life as a stage play with a character other than Belvedere in the lead. A character much like Cagney's wandering vagrant in "Johnny Come Lately".

The substitution of Belvedere for the original philosophical hobo was a brilliant stroke which does no damage to the original, but actually strengthens it, both dramatically and commercially. Webb is in his element with the film's pungent dialogue, but this time he doesn't usurp all our interest and attention. He is matched by a wonderful group of oddballs and whining misfits.

Just to see players like Billy Lynn, Doro Merande, Harry Hines, Frances Brandt, Kathleen Comegys and Jane Marbury, is alone worth three or four times the price of admission. But Zero Mostel is on hand too for some clever comedy. And there's an appealing romance between Joanne Dru's attractive nurse and Hugh Marlowe's sympathetically stuffy clergyman.

But, needless to say, through all the dealing and encouraging, Webb retains a primary focus of attention, making the most of his opportunities throughout four or five quite unforgettable scenes starting with his out-quoting the bishop on the bible, through his dosing out a placebo elixir of youth for the inmates, to his quick recovery at being found out and exposed as a fraud and a faker.

Koster has directed with a pleasingly competent craftsmanship, assisted by sharp black-and-white photography, timed-to-perfection film editing and superb, appropriately depressing sets. (Yes, you read me right: appropriately depressing!)

Here's a film that celebrates the joy of living in a positive, uplifting and — dare I say it? — an inspiring way.
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