I loved the “Cheaper by the Dozen” books. If I knew where my copies were, I’d probably still re-read them every few months.
They filmed part of this movie in my town, and I could tell just from the description in the local paper that it would be nothing like the books were, but I didn’t know it was this bad. They were only filming a couple blocks away from my work, too - I should’ve gone over on a lunch break and bitched them out for it like I wanted to.
I once read a “behind-the-scenes” version of the Gilbreths’ story, written by Frank Jr. and Ernestine again, I think. The one thing I remember about it is that it told about what happened to the elusive Mary.
Hmmm, might have to go track that one down. Our local small-town library had it many moons ago.
If I recall, Cheaper by the Dozen was authored by two of the twelve kids. (Haven’t read it since the early 1970’s.) Something that impressed me at the time was that they told the story in first person plural; the kids were referred to as “we”, but were each referred to individually by name, with no individual being the narrator. I’ve only seen this technique used a few times, once in a story by Ted Sturgeon.
As you’ll recall, the parents’ shared career had a strong influence on their child-raising techniques; they pioneered time-motion studies in industry. I remember when one of the kids came down with tuberculosis and the dad decided to have all twelve operated on in the same day for the sake of efficiency.
Why isn’t Steve Martin doing good movies? (Although sometimes a trailer can give a completely false impression.)
See, that’s what’s so annoying—the source material would make a terrific film! Nuanced, dark, edgy, funny, heart-warming . . . Twelve kids trying to deal with being a “number” in a house run by an efficiency expert and his wry, harried wife.
“But, noooooo!” (OK, I think that was Belushi and not Martin . . .) They turn it into yet another cutsey-kid slapstick crapfest. That sound you hear is a dozen kids rolling in their graves.
Cheaper By The Dozen was my introduction to the world of homosexuality and prostitution, although I didn’t realize it until years after the fact. There’s a bit where the family’s on vacation and they drive off without one of the sons and backtrack to a diner to look for him. Papa Gilbreth is wandering through peering into each booth when a woman says to him, “hey pops, looking for a naughty little girl?” Flustered, he responds “oh no, I’m looking for a naughty little boy.” To which the woman replies “Whoops dearie! pardon me!”
Something like 15 years after the first time I read that it struck me, oh, she’s a hooker and she thinks Dad is gay and looking for trade. In my defense I was like 8 the first time I read it.
As for the original, I have to confess I wasn’t as charmed by it as others have been. I liked it, but it didn’t resonate with me. Which doesn’t mean I’m pleased at the idea of a “remake” which seems to be so widely divergent from both the letter and the spirit of the source material. I imagine dear 95 year old Ernestine Gilbreth Carey is on her way out to the back garden to practice rolling over in her grave.
I think CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN was everybody’s introduction to the world of homosexuality and prostitution.
(Cheaper by the Dozen and prostitution being mentioned in the same sentence sounds like an ad for the new COSTCO/SAM’S CLUB BROTHEL.
Clifton Webb, who played the father of a dozen in this movie and “The Amazing Mr. Pennypacker” (a bigamist with 17 kids) in another was, I understand, one of the earliest permanent fixtures on the Hollywood gay club scene even though he lived with his mother (or she with him) until he was 70.
My favorite freaky Clifton Webb story talks about how he and Talullah Bankhead were competing for the affections of the same soldier. Supposedly, Talullah was in the lead so Clifton excused himself and came back naked with an armload of flowers and began dancing around the soldier pelting him with blossoms. Oddly, this didn’t work and the soldier left with Talullah.
I read the books years ago when I was in junior-high (I must be depraved because I figured out the prostitution/gay thing immediately). What is so annoying is that Steve Martin is slummin in yet another “wacky,” disposable piece of crap, yet he would shine if he played Frank Gilbreth in a faithful film version of the original book.
95-year-old Ernestine? I figured all the kids were dead by now.