Film Review of Mr Belvedere Goes to College: Shirley Temple with Clifton Webb in 1949 Comedy

by DerdriuMarriner

Film Review of Mr Belvedere Goes to College: Jeff Chandler, Shirley Temple and Clifton Webb Impact Clemens University in The 1949 Film Version

A self-taught genius gets sued over comments in his best-seller.
• Generous cash awards stipulate a college degree.

Will condescending sophomores, leery administrators, and career-minded journalists help or hurt when “Mr. Belvedere Goes to College”?

"Mr. Belvedere Goes to College" was the second of a trilogy of Belvedere films starring Clifton Webb (November 19, 1889 – October 13, 1966).
• Clifton first appeared in 1947 as Lynn Belvedere in "Sitting Pretty," adapted from "Belvedere" by Gwen Davenport (October 3, 1909 - March 23, 2002);
• Clifton reprised the role in 1951 in "Mr. Belvedere Rings the Bell."

Actor Jeff Chandler (December 15, 1918 – June 17, 1961), stage name of Ira Grossel, appeared briefly but memorably as a police officer in "Mr. Belvedere Goes to College."
• Jeff had set aside his stage career to serve for four years in World War II.
• The year after Jeff appeared in the 1949 comedy with Shirley Temple and Clifton Webb, he achieved stardom through his Academy Award nominated role as Cochise (Apache: K'uu-ch'ish "oak") (c. 1805 – June 8, 1874) in "Broken Arrow," released on July 21, 1950.
* Jeff reprised the role of Cochise in two more films: "The Battle at Apache Pass" in 1952 and again in "Taza, Son of Cochise" in 1954.
• Tragically, Jeff died after several operations stemming from back injuries while playing baseball with U.S. Army Special Forces soldiers who had appeared as extras in his last film, "Merrill's Marauders," released on June 13, 1962, one year after Jeff's death.
• Jeff's death, determined to have resulted from malpractice, garnered a large settlement for his children, Jamie Tucker (1947–2003) and Dana Grossel (1949–2002), both of whom succumbed to cancer, the illness which took the lives of Jeff's mother, maternal aunt, uncle and grandfather.

"Mr. Belvedere Goes to College" was the first of four films featuring Shirley Temple in 1949, the year which saw the end of her film career and her first marriage.

Manzanita Lake, formed by the damming of an irrigation ditch in 1911, is an iconic landmark on University of Nevada-Reno campus, where "Mr. Belvedere Goes to College" was filmed .

University of Nevada-Reno
University of Nevada-Reno

 

Fast-tracking the university's curricula exacerbates fun and stress in Mr. Belvedere Goes to College by writers Mary Loos, Mary C. McCall Jr. and Richard Sale; producer Samuel G. Engel; and director Elliott Nugent. Fred Sersen, Harmon Jones, and Alfred Newman handle cinematography, editing, and music. Filming showcases University of Nevada-Reno.

The 83-minute comedy draws upon Gwen Davenport's (October 3, 1909 - March 23, 2002) characters in the 1947-published novel Belvedere. It follows the 1948-released Sitting Pretty and precedes the 1951-released Mr. Belvedere Rings the Bell. Its distributor was 20th Century-Fox. Its NYC-premiere and USA-release dates were April 15 and May 1949.

The movie begins with Hummingbird Hill author Lynn Belvedere (Clifton Webb) impoverished by libel suits. A college degree carries substantial cash awards. The autodidact, age 6 onward, contemplates completing four years in one. He passes entrance exams with Clemens University's proctor (Arthur Space).

Freshman Cornelius Whittaker (Alvin Greenman) and sophomore Avery Brubaker (Alan Young) are Lynn's dorm roommates. Lynn becomes Tri Gam Sorority House's pianist and etiquette/punctuality/waltz teacher. He befriends:

  • Employment bureau manager Bill Chase (Tom Drake);

  • Tri Gam housemother Mrs. Chase (Jessie Royce Landis);

  • Tri Gam cook Marta (Lotte Stein).

He charms freshmen by:

  • Beating Avery in track;

  • Jumping four inches/10.16 centimeters short of his previous all-time record pole vault from 1922;

  • Making freshmen intramural sports competition winners;

  • Stopping mandatory freshman cap-wearing.

Lynn endures:

  • False beard-wearing -- instead of paddling -- for shaving during Sophomore Council Whisker Week;

  • Clemens President/Dr. Keating's (Paul Harvey) and Dean/Dr. Gibbs' (Taylor Holmes) expulsion warnings when journalism major Ellen Baker (Shirley Temple) publishes Lynn's anti-athlete/ anti-coed comments, before-and-after photographs, and Whisker “trial” in the university newspaper.

He mulls suing Clemens and Ellen. He opts to:

  • Not grant Ellen interviews for Look magazine;

  • Support Bill's dating Ellen.

Mrs. Chase abhors Bill's and Ellen's engagement. She assumes that Ellen is Davy Ashley's (Lonnie Thomas) unmarried -- not war-widowed -- mother. Ellen blames Lynn, not Avery, for her rumored single parenting.

Ellen does not open the door when Lynn tries to mediate. Lynn enters Davy's room by the fire escape and ledge. Ellen feigns not knowing Lynn.

Policeman #66 Pratt (Jeff Chandler) and #97 McCarthy (Clancy Cooper) arrest “Peeping Tom” Lynn. Lynn collect-calls FBI Director John Edgar Hoover (1895-1972). As Houdini's (Erik Weisz, 1874-1926) mentor, he escapes from his handcuffs. He naps standing on his head. He recommends yoga to Sergeant Griggs (Barry Kelley).

The movie ends with:

  • Mrs. Chase accepting Ellen;

  • Lynn becoming class valedictorian;

  • Lynn handing President Keating Ellen's feature article and Lynn's graduation picture in the latest Look.

 

Lynn Belvedere (Clifton Webb) plays boogie and discusses his new student job as a hasher (cook) in a sorority with Mrs. Chase (Jessie Royce Landis)

Mr Belvedere Goes to College (1949) - Sorority house ~ Published on YouTube on May 28, 2012 by 1949cilps ~ URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=utVSE6oGf3I

Shirley Temple's SAG Life Achievement Award Presentation-2006 ~ includes retrospective of Shirley's dual careers as actress and diplomat

Uploaded to YouTube on July 28, 2010 by Mike Case ~ URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LDHgg1GUNlo

Acknowledgment

 

My special thanks to:

  • Talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the Internet;
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University for superior on-campus and on-line resources.

 

the end which is also the beginning
the end which is also the beginning

Author Loraine Burdick owns one of the world's most extensive collections of Shirley Temple memorabilia.

The Shirley Temple Scrapbook by Loraine Burdick

FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover Giving Child Actress Shirley Temple a Department of Justice Tour: photo by Thomas D. Mcavoy

Films vs. real life: Lynn Belvedere makes a collect call to his friend J. Edgar Hoover in "Mr. Belvedere Goes to College"; 11 years earlier, in real life, J. Edgar personally conducted tour of FBI headquarters for Shirley.
FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover Giving Child Actress Shirley Temple a Department of Justice Tour

Shirley Temple: a cute, talented kid grows up into a pretty, talented actress

Shirley Temple

Me and my purrfectly purrfect Maine coon kittycat, Augusta "Gusty" Sunshine

Gusty and I thank you for reading this article and hope that our product selection interests you; Gusty Gus receives favorite treats from my commissions.
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
Updated: 08/20/2014, DerdriuMarriner
 
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DerdriuMarriner on 04/09/2014

WriterArtist, It's a fun ensemble film to watch. Unfortunately, it apparently is not currently available via Amazon, and the full length version of the film no longer seems to be available via YouTube or other video interfaces on the internet.
Yes, by all means: jump at the opportunity if it ever arises to see "Mr Belvedere Goes to College."

WriterArtist on 04/09/2014

I love this lady -Shirley Temple and would jump to watch the film if I ever get a chance. She is terrific and I like her hair style.

DerdriuMarriner on 04/06/2014

Kathleen, Tee hee: I also thought Jamie Lee was going to end in an ignominious heap on the floor! :-)
Me too: I enjoyed watching the clip of Shirley's Lifetime Achievement Award. The retrospective honoring Shirley's three careers -- child actress, wife/mother, diplomat -- was well done. In accepting the award, Shirley displayed such charm and graciousness. One of the things I like about Shirley is that you can see Shirley the child in the face of Shirley the adult.

KathleenDuffy on 04/06/2014

I really enjoyed watching this incredible lady receive her Lifetime Achievement Award - gosh, Jamie Lee should wear flats! I thought she was a gonner for a moment! :)

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