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Daddy-Long-Legs (the movie)

June 3, 2010

I read Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster back in April for the 24hr read-a-thon, and while I was raving about how wonderful it was, it was quickly pointed out to me that it had been made into a movie. A 1955 musical staring Fred Astaire, in fact. Obviously I knew I had to watch it immediately. The closest thing to immediate I could get, however, was putting my name on the hold list for the lone copy at the library, making myself the only name on the hold list, and then waiting over a month for the lone copy to be returned. But, it was well worth the wait. Thankfully my VCR’s attempt to gobble up the tape (yes, the lone copy is VHS) wasn’t successful, so the people of this city will still be able to enjoy it.

If you are unfamiliar with Jean Webster’s Daddy-Long-Legs, the basic premise is that a wealthy man anonymously sponsors a teenaged orphan girl, sending her to college to become a writer. The only thing he asks of her in return is that she write him letters, addressed to ‘Mr. Smith,’ detailing what she has been learning in school, but not to expect any kind of response from him.

I say ‘basic premise’ because the creators of the movie took some liberties with the original story. This usually turns me right off of movie adaptations, but the creators managed to capture so much of the charm of the original story that I couldn’t help but be delighted by the entire thing. Well, except for that 15-minute dream sequence near the end. I could have done without that. But there’s still the mysterious Mr. Smith, the spunky orphan, and a sampling of her wonderful letters. Add some witty banter, a French accent, and classic 1950’s dance movies, and you’ve got Daddy Long Legs, the movie.

Leslie Caron was sweet and winsome as orphaned Julie. Her excitement upon arriving at school and receiving a new wardrobe from Mr. Smith was one of my favourite scenes of the whole movie. Fred Astaire played Julie’s roommate’s uncle, the charming Uncle Jervis. He wasn’t the kind of Uncle Jervis I pictured when I read the book, but he fit the role so perfectly I kind of wish I had.

If you haven’t read the book or seen the movie, I highly recommend both of them. Of course, read the book first. You’ll be glad you did.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. June 4, 2010 3:11 pm

    Great review. I’ve always wanted to see this film. I had no idea it was a book :)

  2. June 5, 2010 11:32 am

    I’m a bit sad they changed her name, but mostly interested to watch this film now! Apparently (says Wikipedia) Fred Astaire’s wife died as the film was being made. :(

  3. June 6, 2010 6:42 am

    Ohhh: now I want to read book and see movie! In that order. ;)

  4. July 22, 2012 12:47 pm

    I still haven’t seen this, even though I read the book a while ago. I love Fred Astaire, though, so I need to get a move on and find this somewhere so I can watch it. :D

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