A happy and unbelievably lucky young Irish immigrant, John Lawless, lands a job as the butler of an unconventional millionaire, Biddle. His daughter, Cordelia Drexel Biddle, tires of the unusual antics of her father--especially since the nice young men around town all fear him. Wouldn't you fear a father-in-law that keeps alligators for pets and teaches boxing at his daily Bible classes? Cordelia decides to run off to boarding school and promptly finds the man of her dreams. Unfortunately, his family doesn't approve of Biddle's outrageous antics, either. A Disney musical punctuated by snappy songs and an energetic debut by Tommy Steele. This is reportedly one of the last live- action films Walt Disney personally oversaw.Written by
Tim Kretschmann <Tim.K@VirComm.com>
The song "Fortuosity" was written for Tommy Steele. It replaced a song called "Off Rittenhouse Square", a demo of which appeared on the film's CD soundtrack reissue in 2002. See more »
The Biddle Mansion at 2104 Walnut Street is shown as being directly across Walnut Street(the North side of Walnut Street) from Rittenhouse Square. In fact, Rittenhouse Square is between 18th and just beyond 19th Street on the South side of Walnut Street. 2104 is two blocks West and also on the South side of Walnut Street. This block is now occupied by a high-ride apartment building. See more »
Well now, ain't this an elegant neighborhood, all the residents dressed so fine! One day off the boat am I, with a job that's nearly mine! 'Tis a job with an elegant millionaire, and his elegant family! Today I move from immigrant - to high society!
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The original uncut roadshow version was actually trade-screened at 164 minutes. This version has been shown on the Disney Channel, and has only now been released to video and to DVD. This version, five minutes longer than the 1967 premiere version, adds a scene with Mr. and Mrs. Biddle after the children have left, and the song "It Won't Be Long Till Christmas." See more »
Too bad Uncle Walt couldn't have gone out with a real bang...
A combination of desires- to top "Mary Poppins" and to capitilize on the then-current trend of big-budget, three-hour musical films playing to roadshow audiences- caused Walt Disney to make this film, the last he personally oversaw. He hired several of the same people to work on it that had worked on "Poppins", including the songwriting team of the Sherman brothers, the chereography team of Marc Breaux and Dee Dee Wood, and supporting cast member Hermoine Baddely in much the same role of the acerbic maid. In addition, he spent freely on costumes and production and hired an impressive cast, including Fred Macmurry, Greer Garson, Tommy Steele, Gladys Cooper, Geraldine Page, and in their film debuts, Lesley Ann Warren and John Davidson.
The result was a pleasent, somewhat entertaining but all-around silly and, for the most part, instantly forgettable confection. Yes, it's fine for the whole family, but it will be hard for the kiddies (and even the adults) to stay awake as the rather simple story is stretched to nearly three hours, with a series of plotlines connected by merely a shimmer all going on at once. Macmurry is at his least inspired, making the title character into a bumbling, blustering idiot; it's pretty hard not to cheer whenever someone shows him up, verbally or physically. The songs are nice enough, but only one or two really stick in the memory, and half of them are totally irrelevant. (I saw the restored roadshow edition; there are a variety of other editions that cut out several of the songs) Still, Tommy Steele is likable as the forever perky Irish butler (He gets a very hummable song to sing called "Fortuosity") and the chereography certainly is lively. The songs, for all the irrelevance of many of them, really move the picture along, as it slows down considerably whenever the screenplay takes over.
It's too bad Disney's last film couldn't have been better, but oh, well. That's life.
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