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Cheaper by the Dozen

(1950 c 85')

En: 6 Ed: 6

Based on a biography by two of the children, a couple who are experts in human efficiency raise twelve children.

         Time-and-motion expert Frank Gilbreth (Clifton Webb) comes home from a trip to his wife Lillian Gilbreth (Myrna Loy) and their eleven children. They move from Rhode Island to Montclair, New Jersey in one big car. When a son toots the horn at him while he is looking at the engine, Frank realizes he did the same thing and takes it as a joke.

         At a family council presided by chairman Frank and co-chair Lillian they discuss and agree to assign work in order to help their two servants. Frank takes the older children to enroll some in an elementary school at advanced grades beyond their years, showing that they can multiply large numbers in their heads.

         One child comes down with the whooping cough. Pretty soon all the children have it, and Frank joins the children. Dr. Burton (Edgar Buchanan) tells Frank that their tonsils must come out. Frank has the operations filmed for efficiency study and has his out too. He asks for only a local anesthetic and staggers out of the operating room, learning that his cameraman forgot to use film.

         Ann Gilbreth (Jeanne Crain) is the oldest and plays the violin as several receive a music lesson. Lillian has another baby, making it six boys and six girls. At a family council the children ask for a dog, and Frank is outvoted. As expected, the dog likes him best. Mrs. Mebane (Mildred Natwick) from Planned Parenthood was told they might be interested in birth control and tries to get Lillian to head the local group so that they can meet in their big house. Frank whistles, and the twelve children appear, causing Mrs. Mebane to leave in embarrassment.

         On a vacation at the beach Ann and Ernestine Gilbreth (Barbara Bates) see a handsome lifeguard with girls in more modern swimsuits dancing. They complain to their father that their swimsuits are too conservative. The lifeguard sees Ann dancing alone and laughs. At home Ann cuts off her long hair, and her father objects; but her mother understands.

         Frank gets a telegram from Prague that indicates he will probably not be asked to speak at the conference. He is disappointed. Ann has a date for the senior prom with Jim, who has a car. Frank insists on going with them. A letter arrives, and Lillian reads that Frank has been invited to Prague and London. Frank chaperones Ann and Jim. Lillian gets a call from Frank, but he is not on the line. They learn that he died.

         Lillian calls the family together and says she will go to Europe to give Frank’s speeches. Ann says that she will plan the meals, and the others help too.

         This family comedy is a nostalgic look at the 1920s with a father who impresses his intelligence on the children and a compassionate mother who has the patience to keep things together and adjust to changes.

Copyright © 2007 by Sanderson Beck

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