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Almost as a dovetail to last week’s post about Yours, Mine, and Ours, I thought I’d share about another classic film about a large family that has seen a remake in the last decade.
If you didn’t already guess it from the title of the post, the movie is Cheaper by the Dozen.
This is definitely another case of the original film being truer to the book chronicling a real life family. Cheaper by the Dozen (the novel) shares from the life of the Gilbreth family as told by two of the dozen children. Mr. & Mrs. Frank Gilbreath were efficiency experts who used their household as a testing ground to study how they could make things more efficient through reduction in motions. With so many people in the house, I can completely understand why shaving a minute or two off of personal hygiene routines would have a huge impact on family life.
A sequel book (and film) was written under the title Belles on Their Toesand continues the story of their family after their father’s death. (I have not seen that film, but have it on my list to see.) For the curious, there is also a script for the original story as a play. I even have a copy of it in a box downstairs as I had the privilege of playing the mother, Lillian Gilbreth, as a sophomore in high school.
If you haven’t read the book or seen the original film, the title comes from an often used quote by Frank Bunker Gilbreth when asked why he had so many kids. He’d reply that they came ‘cheaper by the dozen.’
When we were living in temporary quarters on base last spring, Mr. O, the boys and I had the opportunity to check out the 1950 version of the film. It was entertaining without being over the top and showed that humor from years ago can still be humorous today. Antics from the younger kids and wails from the teenagers that parents do not understand are truly universal across the ages as shown in this film. Unlike many films that are made today, the film has a rather sad ending as Mr. Gilbert dies while on the phone with his wife.
While there is the typical teen angst of young love shown in the film, there is no inclusion of foul language, immodest dress, or sexual behaviors that are commonplace in cinema today. Amazingly, this film viewing which started off with a few boys complaining about the selection (as it was not an ‘action’ or ‘fantasy’ genre selection) had them all interested in watching it by the end.
The modern day remakes (2003 and then 2005 for a sequel) have no ties to the novels. Instead, the only thing besides the title that is similar is having a family of 12 children and a move during the film.
While I found it a fun romp of a film, the substance is just not there when compared to the original. If anything, the family depicted in the 2003 version would have Frank Gilbreth horrified with their chaotic lifestyle. (Of course, that IS something I can relate to with 4 boys in the house!) Even still, the film is rather tame compared to other options out there which has earned it the label of ‘family film’ by many in the mainstream. I’d argue for watching the 1950 film if the kids have even an inkling of enjoyment of the 2003 film.
This post has been submitted for inclusion in The Christian Home carnival (Issue 16) hosted by The Legacy of Home. As the new featured columnist for the Movies and Music category, you can be looking forward to weekly posts on what we are watching or music we’ve enjoyed.
Feel free to leave suggestions for me as well. While I have several movies and some music selections in mind, I’m always on the lookout for other great choices.
**Finally, will you consider voting for me in the Circle of Mom’s Top 25 Faith Blog contest? You can vote once per 24 hour cycle until June 6th at 5 p.m. PST. Day by Day in Our World.**