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Tacey and Harry King are a suburban couple with three sons and a serious need of a babysitter. Tacey puts an ad in the paper for a live-in babysitter, and the ad is answered by Lynn Belvedere. But when she arrives, she turns out to be a man. And not just any man, but a most eccentric, outrageously forthright genius with seemingly a million careers and experiences behind him. Mr. Belvedere works miracles with the children and the house but the Kings have no idea just what he's doing with his evenings off. And when Harry has to go out of town on a business trip, a nosy parker starts a few ugly rumors. But everything comes out all right in the end thanks to Mr. Belvedere.Written by
With Sitting Pretty, Clifton Webb created his most enduring film character, the aesthetic and acid tongue, self-styled genius, Mr. Lynn Belvedere. He enters the lives of the King family by answering an advertisement Maureen O'Hara puts in a paper about needing a live-in baby sitter.
Never assume folks, Maureen doesn't specify the gender of whom she seeks and with that first name of Mr. Belvedere she and husband Robert Young assume they've got themselves a female.
Belvedere moves in and he's quite the character. I'm not sure there's a subject or a field he's not well versed in and he's not above letting one know it. Thanks to a fussy busybody neighbor, Richard Haydn, Webb and O'Hara become the focal point of a lot of neighborhood gossip.
Clifton Webb never had any luck with his three Oscar nominations. In 1944 for Laura he lost to Barry Fitzgerald in Going My Way. In 1946 in The Razor's Edge he lost to Harold Russell in The Best Years of Our Lives. Those two were for Best Supporting Actor, but in 1948 he was nominated for Best Actor and this time lost to the greatest actor of his generation playing arguably the greatest acting role ever, Laurence Olivier as Hamlet.
Robert Young as O'Hara's husband is not generally commented on, but I've always had the sneaking suspicion that some astute casting directors saw Young in this film and decided he'd be perfect as THE television suburban all American father when it came time to casting Father Knows Best.
For some reason Maureen O'Hara gave this film a fast mention in her recent memoirs and didn't discuss it at all. I'm not sure why, she certainly did well enough in it.
Richard Haydn is also not commented on too much, mainly because he was playing a very typical Richard Haydn part. Clifton Webb of course was the cinema's closest thing for almost 20 years to an out gay actor and I'm sure Mr. Belvedere if done today would be more explicitly gay. So would that first meeting of Haydn and Webb where today it would be shown for exactly what it is, Haydn trying to pick up Webb and Webb turning the prospect down cold.
Almost sixty years later, Sitting Pretty has not lost a bit of its entertainment value. Clifton Webb's Mr. Belevedere is an enduring cinema legend. I only wish the two succeeding Belvedere films were shown. I've never seen either of them as of today and don't ever even recall them being broadcast.
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