Cheaper by the Dozen (1950)

cheaper by the dozen cliftonSans Steve Martin and Hillary Duff.

(FYI, the movie is actually in color, but apparently not the trailer.)

What a perfect movie for Father’s Day! You won’t see this film on any typical “Best Father’s Day Movies” list, but then again, you might not see Star Wars either, and that’s totally applicable.

Cheaper by the Dozen is about a real family in the 1920s with 12 children, and it’s based on the 1948 book written by a couple of those kids about their parents, Frank and Lillian Gilbreth.

The title comes from one of Frank’s favorite jokes. When strangers would ask him why he had so many children, he’d often answer, “Well, they come cheaper by the dozen, you know.” … Yeah. But there’s a good chance that was hilarious in the 1920s.

myrna loy actressIt stars Clifton Webb (whom I don’t remember seeing in anything else), Jeanne Crain (State Fair), and Myrna Loy, one of the most unappreciated comedic actresses of all time.

Myrna’s reputation for humor rose during her appearances in The Thin Man movies with William Powell. She was also in a pretty entertaining film with Cary Grant and Shirley Temple called The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer. She was pretty cool in her off-screen life, too, especially during World War II. In fact, she was so outspoken against the Nazis that she appeared on Adolf Hitler’s blacklist. (That’s right…Nazi Enemy No.1: A lady named Myrna.)

OH, SOMETHING YOU SHOULD KNOW: Apparently going to the restroom was synonymous back then with the phrase “going to see Mrs. Murphy.” I don’t know who invented that saying, what that activity has to do with a “Mrs. Murphy,” or if that poor woman was real and people kept leaving unwanted gifts on her doorstep. All I know is that I had a math teacher in junior high with the last name Murphy and I feel like that phrase could have come in handy on any number of days in that classroom.

cheaper dozen movieOne of my favorite lines in this movie comes in response to a question asked by a stranger who sees all the Gilbreth children for the first time. He asks, “Are all these kids yours, mister, or is this a picnic?” Mr. Gilbreth promptly replies, “They’re all mine. And believe me, it’s no picnic.”

Raising children certainly isn’t easy. In fact, those who are blessed with the opportunity to have children often go out of their way to avoid that opportunity because it can disrupt the comfortable or ambitious plans they have for their own life. Many married couples would rather not sacrifice extra income, exotic vacations, or professional ambitions “just” to raise a family. Some, like one lady in this film, scoff at the idea of having children at all.

It takes faith to raise children. It takes courage. It takes a conscious choice to unselfishly dedicate your life to the lives of those you bring into the world.

Having said that, we should also acknowledge that when to have a child and how many children to have are private and sacred decisions between a husband and wife and the Lord. In other words, the size and timing of other people’s families are none of our business.

As for those of us fortunate enough to have children, be it one or a dozen, we ought to be fiercely dedicated to their well-being while practicing Christlike patience with them—and ourselves—at every opportunity.

And while parenthood is indeed no picnic, when we give it our best, we will someday come to realize that, in the words of Mrs. Gilbreth,“We’ll look back at moments like these as the happiest in our lives.”

Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth…” — Genesis 1:28

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2 Responses to Cheaper by the Dozen (1950)

  1. Just found you and know that I will be one of your more frequent readers — I LOVE old movies! There’s so much to be said for sharing classic films and books with kids these days. I’ve seen all the Cary Grant and Doris Day flicks I can get my hands on (still a few that I read about in the databases but have yet to come out on DVD) and always try to read the book before seeing the movie (makes for lots of interesting interlibrary loan requests). Cheaper By the Dozen was one of those books — and also one of the few movies where I actually enjoyed the remake with Steve Martin, although the newer version is nothing like the original story.

    Looking forward to reading through & already subscribed!

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