Fred Astaire becomes both the benefactor and suitor of Leslie Caron in this charming story of a playboy who falls under the spell of a beautiful French orphan. While traveling through France, Jervis Pendleton lll (Astaire... more ») anonymously sponsors an 18-year-old girl named Julie (Caron), whom he sends to college in America. Two years later they finally meet face to face and start to fall in love. But complications arise and their happiness is threatened when Jervis embarks on a noble yet misguided attempt to do "the right thing" about their age difference. Featuring imaginative production numbers and a Johnny Mercer score that includes the 1955 Oscar® -nominated hit for Best Song "Something's Gotta Give", Daddy Long Legs is a song-filled blend of dance and fantasy for romantics of all ages.« less
David J. Kucharski | Washington, DC USA | 02/12/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I realize that many Fred Astaire fans may not agree that DADDY LONG LEGS is his best film made without Ginger Rogers. But I stand by that opinion. The film is a delight, lavishly produced, with an excellent script and cast, and some outstanding musical sequences.DADDY LONG LEGS is the story of third-generation multi-millionaire Jervis Pendleton (Astaire) who, while on a good-will ambassadorial trip to France, observes and is charmed by young Julie Andre (Leslie Caron), who lost her parents during World War II and has been raised in a countryside orphanage. Jervis lavishes material support on Julie, bringing her to the U.S. and sending her to a women's college. Yet he doesn't reveal himself to Julie, who knows her benefactor only as "Daddy Long Legs." Then the two meet at a college dance, and romance--and complications--follow.DADDY LONG LEGS was Astaire's only film for 20th Century-Fox, and the studio gave him a superb supporting cast, including Terry Moore, Fred Clark, and the peerless Thelma Ritter. The film's script is by Henry and Phoebe Ephron, parents of today's famous writer/director Nora Ephron (SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE, YOU'VE GOT MAIL). The script is witty and tender and features two wonderfully developed central characters, who are brought to life beautifully by Astaire and Caron. This was (sadly) the last musical in which Caron showed her dancing talents, but she also shows here the abundant acting talent that has sustained her career to the present day. And Astaire, too, displays the outstanding acting abilities that were unfortunately always overshadowed by his status as the screen's leading male dancer.Good as the rest of the movie is, it's the musical portions that really lift DADDY LONG LEGS to the heights. First, there are two lavish ballet sequences choreographed by Caron's dance mentor, Roland Petit. The second features a distraught Caron searching for Astaire in settings representing Paris, Hong Kong and Rio. Caron's abilities are on excllent display here (although I leave to dance critics the question of the sequence's actual artistic merit). The other dance sequence is an amusing and colorful daydream showing Caron's musings about who her benefactor might be: a Texas millionaire, an international playboy, or her guardian angel. The "angel" segment is particularly outstanding, featuring excellent dancing, a lavish setting, and the bravura orchestral accompaniment of Alfred Newman and the 20th Century-Fox orchestra.Even more satisfying than the ballets, though, are Astaire and Caron's "popular" dance duets, the romantic "Something's Gotta Give" and the college dance ensemble, "The Sluefoot." The two dancers make a marvelous pair, and their work together conveys much of the same exhiliration and joy that Astaire helped create during those legendary 1930s dances with Rogers. And adding to the magic of both numbers are Johnny Mercer's excellent songs--"Something's Gotta Give" has, of course, become a "standard," while "The Sluefoot" features an amusing lyric full of Mercer's distinctive vernacular wordplay. In addition, the film also makes excellent use of Mercer's beautiful ballad "Dream," which had actually been written as a pop tune ten years earlier.As other reviewers have noted, DADDY LONG LEGS has a long running time, over two hours. But I enjoy every magical moment of a film that is certainly one of Astaire's best."
Astaire, As Usual, Is Always Worth Watching
C. O. DeRiemer | San Antonio, Texas, USA | 03/01/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The point of a Fred Astaire movie is Fred Astaire dancing. Daddy Long Legs is an uncomfortable attempt to do two additional things. First, to take advantage of the emerging popularity of Leslie Caron, who had caught the American public's attention with her first movie, An American in Paris, made when she was just 20. Caron at that age had an endearing, innocent quality, a delightful accent, and the American public loved it. Second (and in order to accomplish the first point), to meld Astaire's style of easy, graceful sophistication with what Caron was most comfortable with, ballet. The result is a musical that has many good things, but is probably one of the weaker of the Fred Astaire films.
Jervis Pendleton III (Fred Astaire), a rich, charming, middle-aged American businessman from a mainline family of inherited wealth, comes across an orphanage in France while on a high-level government-sponsored trip to Paris. By chance he sees a young woman taking care of the orphans and is charmed by her vitality and simplicity. The girl, he learns, is 18 years old and is called Julie Andre (Leslie Caron). She is an orphan, too. When he realizes her future is probably to age into eventually running the orphanage herself or to marry a chubby French farmer, he takes steps to whisk her to America, enroll her in exclusive Walston College and see to it that she has every advantage. All this he does anonymously. Then he forgets about her. His assistant, Griggs (Fred Clark) and Griggs' assistant, Alicia Pritchard (Thelma Ritter), keep track of Julie, monitor her progress and file the letters she writes to her anonymous benefactor, whom she has come to call Daddy Long Legs. Eventually, the two meet. Jervis realizes he loves Julie. Julie realizes she loves Jervis and that he had been her benefactor. After a few misunderstandings are cleared up, they dance away together to the strains of Johnny Mercer's "Dream."
Why is this movie, for me, so unsatisfying? First, the age difference is noticeable. Astaire was 56 when he made the movie; Caron was 24. Well, Astaire was 58 when he made Funny Face with Audrey Hepburn. She was 28, but the disparity there wasn't so apparent. With Daddy Long Legs, I think it's because Caron, at this point in her career, wasn't a very good actress. She seems unformed, both as an actress and as a person. To show excitement, she simply shakes her hands and cries, "Ooo la la!." Playing against a man 32 years older than she, she just seems too malleable for comfort. Second, Astaire was a great dance stylist, but ballet-influenced routines never showed him at his best. Caron was a competent ballet dancer and there are two long ballet sequences for her, one involving Astaire, to show her off. They were choreographed by Roland Petit to suit her strengths. In my opinion, they're journeyman works. When paired with Astaire for two dances, Caron seems stiff and sometimes looks like she's concentrating on what she's doing. They just don't make a good match. Third, the movie is long, over two hours. Much of the time is spent with Julie Andre. Once Andre's character and situation are established, however, there's not much to keep us involved with her.
And why is this movie worth looking at? Well, first, Astaire is a joy to watch even if he's just walking down the street. He has three good dance routines. "History of the Beat" is a fast tap number that also shows his skill at the drums, not to mention with drum sticks. He can make drumsticks do things in a dance that most dancers can't do with their feet. Then there's "Sluefoot," a jitterbug number at the college dance. It's satisfying to see the old smoothie show the youngsters how things are really done. And there's "Something's Gotta Give," a romantic, graceful dance number, sung by Astaire and then performed with Caron. If it's not at the level of "I'm Old Fashioned," which he did with Rita Hayworth more than a decade earlier, it'll do. Second, there are the songs written by Johnny Mercer. They're smart, hip and easy to listen to. One, "Something's Gotta Give," hit the charts and became a classic. A great song Mercer wrote earlier, "Dream," drifts in and out of the movie like a wisp of sleepy romance. Third, Astaire is backed by two great Hollywood character actors, Fred Clark as his exasperated right-hand man and Thelma Ritter as the tough talking secretary who finally takes things in hand.
All in all, Daddy Long Legs has a number of good things. After watching the movie once, however, I think you're going to want to use the fast-forward button to get to them. The DVD features an excellent picture and audio. The most significant extra is a film commentary which includes Astaire's daughter and archival commentary by Mercer."
Charming tuner of the Jean Webster novel
Byron Kolln | the corner where Broadway meets Hollywood | 01/30/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"DADDY LONG LEGS, Jean Webster's novel of a young orphan being sponsored by a mysterious benefactor, is perfect material for a splashy movie musical and the result is this 1955 charmer starring Leslie Caron and Fred Astaire.
Jervis Pendleton III (Fred Astaire) is a rich playboy with little care for the outside world. On a business trip to Paris, he encounters Julie Andre (Leslie Caron) an enchanting 18-year-old orphan. Determined to see her succeed, he sends her to a college in America.
Leslie Caron looks beautiful and Fred Astaire is suave and charming. The score features the hit song "Something's Gotta Give" as well as the infectious dance number "Slue-Foot". Roland Petit and his ballet company staged the several striking dream sequences (they also contributed the ballet sequences in the Leslie Caron vehicle THE GLASS SLIPPER, and Caron was a pupil of Petit's).
Also featuring Fred Clark, Thelma Ritter, Terry Moore, Kathleen Giveny and Ray Anthony's orchestra.
The new DVD from the Fox 'Marquee Musicals' series includes a few great extras, including an informative (if rather dry) audio commentary from historian Ken Barnes and Ava Astaire McKenzie (Fred's daughter); MovieTone news segments, rare footage from the London premiere, galleries, and trailers."
This Film Is For Romantics
Renee | BROOKLYN, NY USA | 05/26/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'm currently on a kick to buy all of my all time favorite romantic movies and this is definitely one of them. I fell in love with this movie when I was a kid and have enjoyed watching it ever since. The dancing -- how could it not be great with Astaire and Caron? The music -- two fabulous songs came out of this movie: "Dream" and "Something's Gotta Give." The incomparable Thelma Ritter adds her wonderful presence. (Watching this film again, I suddenly realized that three of my favorite movies have her as a supporting player: Daddy Long Legs, All About Eve and Pillow Talk). And there's a wonderful dance sequence at the college gym called "Slue Foot."
If you are an Astaire fan or a fan of great musicals, you owe it to yourself to check this one out."
Something's Gotta Give!
Charlotte Kendall | Bay City, MI | 02/04/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Daddy Long Legs is a really great movie. It stars Fred Astaire, Leslie Caron (An American in Paris), Terry Moore, Thelma Ritter, and Fred Clark. The movie is about millionaire Jervis Pendleton (Fred Astaire) who secretly sponsers French orphan Julie Andre (Leslie Caron). Jervis sends Julie to college in America to give her a good education. Jerveis secretary Miss Pritchard (Ritter) finally persuades him to visit Julie. They finally meet and Jervis falls in love with her. This movie has many great numbers, which include:
History of the Beat- Fred is actually on drums for this number. In real life Fred did play the drums.
C-A-T Spells Cat- Leslie sings this to the children at the orphange.
Welcome Egghead- The girls at Julie's college sing this to her.
The Daydream Sequence- Julie daydreams about what her sponser is like. She has many ideas including a Texas millionaire, International Playboy, and a guardain angel.
Dream- This is sung by a chrous and is danced by Fred Astaire and Leslie Caron. Fred sings this later on in the movie.
Sluefoot- Fred and Leslie dance to this at a dance. A great number. One of my favorites!
Something's Gotta Give- Fred sings this song and he dances to it with Leslie. I think this is the best number! A personal favorite!
Dancing Through Life- Leslie dances in this big ballet number. It's kinda like the American in Paris ballet in An American in Paris. A very enjoyable segment.
Dream- A chorus sings this while Fred and Leslie dance! Another favorite!
As for DVD extras,
2.55:1 Anamorphic Widescreen English Stereo English, French & Spanish Mono English & Spanish subtitles Commentary by Film Historian Ken Barnes and Ava Astaire McKenzie Movietone News with Optional commentary by Film Historian Ken Barnes and Ava Astaire McKenzie Daddy Longlegs London Premiere Photo Gallery Original Theatrical Trailer
Daddy Long Legs is a really good movie. It may be long but it is a great musical. I recommend it if you enjoy musicals, or if your a big fan of Fred Astaire or Leslie Caron. Leslie may seem too young for Fred but if you get over that one fact it's a great movie. The numbers in this movie are done really well also. I highly recommend this movie!