Mr. Belvedere Rings the Bell
Adapted from Robert McEnroe’s play, a writer joins an old folks home to make them feel younger.
Lynn Belvedere (Clifton Webb) sees old folks in a park. He is on a lecture tour with his advance man Emmett (Zero Mostel). Belvedere uses the birth certificate of Oliver Erwenter to show he is 77 to get into the old people’s home.
At the home nurse Harriet Tripp (Joanne Dru) has an understanding with Rev. Watson (Hugh Marlowe). Belvedere tells them how he has stayed young. Mr. Beebe (Billy Lynn) says he has lost interest in life. At dinner Belvedere dominates the conversation.
Harriet wears a dress for Watson, and they discuss marriage. Belvedere says he can make them younger. Harriet tells them to go to bed. Belvedere puts his arm around her. She embraces him to make Watson jealous.
Emmett finds Belvedere and says they will find out he is not yet fifty. Belvedere gets placebo pills from a pharmacist and puts the package in a mailman’s bag. Watson brings in the mail and quarrels with Harriet. Belvedere returns, and Watson asks him to discourage Harriet. Watson finds a book with Belvedere’s picture on it.
Belvedere takes the old folks on a picnic and says what they each need. He proposes a church bazaar. He leads singing, and Watson decides not to expose him.
Emmett climbs the wall, and Belvedere gives him a list of things to get. Miss Hoadley drinks from a bottle hidden in a tree. Belvedere shares it with Beebe and R. B. Cherry (Harry Hines) to take the pills “from Tibet.” Beebe says dirty words, and Watson asks Belvedere for an apology. Emmett throws things over the wall to Harriet and Belvedere. Harriet says she told Watson that she is engaged to Erwenter.
In the morning Belvedere shaves quickly and gets a message. Beebe does yoga. Beebe and Cherry act young and play croquet. Ladies admire the flowers, and Beebe chases Mrs. Sampler. Watson asks where the furniture came from and learns they are having a bazaar. He says he will persuade the bishop, and he is glad they are happy.
A newspaper reports that Belvedere is missing. Belvedere persuades a judge to let Emmett go after he took a rubber plant. Harriet brings food and prizes. Watson tells her he is resigning. Reporters arrive and say that Erwenter is Belvedere, who speaks on how to be young at 80. Emmett says Belvedere is 46 and tells Watson that he borrowed things. People come for them. Harriet realizes that Watson knew and thanks him. Belvedere comes back, and Harriet explains. The old folks reject Belvedere.
In the morning people bring back the furniture, and Watson says that Belvedere bought it all. Watson tells Harriet that he loves her and will marry her. She kisses him. At the bazaar people are happy. Belvedere says goodbye, and Emmett says that he is getting soft.
In this comedy a clever man uses deception, wit, and charm to give old people hope to motivate them, but underlying the euphoria is the bitter reality that old age is a gradual decline toward death.