Jean Webster's novel Daddy Long Legs has certainly been popular enough ever since it was written in 1912. First a play the following year that starred a young Ruth Chatterton, than film versions with Mary Pickford as a silent and an early sound film starring Janet Gaynor. There was even a Dutch language version in the Thirties and a couple of years back South Korea filmed a version of the story. Still the best known one is the one with the singing and dancing of Fred Astaire and Leslie Caron.
Johnny Mercer who can well lay claim to being the greatest lyricist America ever produced occasionally wrote the music as well for some songs, an example being I'm An Old Cowhand. Another one he did both music and lyrics for is Dream which was interpolated into this otherwise original score and sung by the Pied Pipers. Mercer did music and lyrics for the rest of the score as well which included the Oscar nominated Something's Gotta Give for Best Song. It lost in 1955 to Love Is A Many Splendored Thing.
I've got a feeling that Jean Webster took as her inspiration for the Daddy Long Legs Story the marriage of Grover Cleveland. The future President of the United States was practicing law in Buffalo, New York when his law partner, one Oscar Folsom, was killed in a carriage accident leaving a widow and small daughter. Cleveland took over the guardianship and raised young Frances Folsom and when he was president in his first term he married young Ms. Folsom when she came of age in the White House.
In this updating of the story, Fred Astaire is a millionaire diplomat on a trade mission to France after World War II. The car breaks down near an orphanage and while there spots and becomes enchanted with young Leslie Caron. He becomes her unseen benefactor, putting her through college in America and she calls him, Daddy Long Legs. Of course like the Clevelands the March/July romance commences.
Daddy Long Legs gave Darryl Zanuck an opportunity to try and respond to MGM's classic ballet in An American In Paris, where not coincidentally Leslie Caron danced with Gene Kelly. In an incredible generosity of spirit it's not Fred who dances, but Caron. In her fantasy Astaire just ambles through. It's a nice number but doesn't come close to what Kelly achieved. It's interesting to speculate what might have happened had Fred danced here.
Thelma Ritter has some nice lines herself as the usual wisecracking girl Friday and for once Fred Clark is a good guy as Astaire's factotum. That must have been a welcome change for him.
If you should be with your beloved watching Daddy Long Legs, you can bet as sure as you live, Something's Gotta Give, Something's Gotta Give, Something's Gotta Give.
Daddy Long Legs
Musical / Romance
Daddy Long Legs
Musical / Romance
On a trip to France, millionaire Jervis Pendleton sees an 18 year old girl in an orphanage. Enchanted with her, but mindful of the difference in their ages, he sponsors her to college in New England. She writes him letters, which he doesn't read. After 3 years, he goes to visit her at a dance, not telling her that he is her benefactor. They fall in love, but the usual movie-type difficulties get in the way before they can get together at the end.
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February 18, 2019 at 07:00 PM