Daddy Long Legs (1955)

“Sure, the girl is much younger than I am — there’s no denying that!”

Daddy Long Legs Poster

Synopsis:
A middle-aged millionaire (Fred Astaire) spies a young orphaned woman (Leslie Caron) in France and arranges to secretly sponsor her education in America, sending her to the same college attended by his niece (Terry Moore). Although Caron writes monthly letters to her anonymous benefactor (who she refers to as “Daddy Long Legs”), Astaire pays her no attention — until his secretary (Thelma Ritter) and business manager (Fred Clark) guilt him into paying her a visit, at which point he refers to himself simply as Moore’s “Uncle Jervis”, and the two fall in love.

Genres:

Review:
Jean Webster’s classic coming-of-age epistolary novel — available for free reading through Project Gutenberg — has been adapted for the screen numerous times (including once in 1935 with Shirley Temple as Curly Top) — but this musical, directed by Jean Negelescu, is likely the best-known version. Although the age difference between Astaire (56) and Caron (24) is certainly noticeable, the fact that it’s acknowledged as a concern — and actually functions as a critical element in the plot — allows us to feel much more comfortable watching them falling in love. Indeed, while DVD Savant complains that Astaire’s “complicated millionaire comes off as a real cradle-robber, and Leslie Caron’s child-woman doesn’t seem mature enough to make a good choice”, I disagree: Caron is posited from the beginning as mature-beyond-her-years (she’s a war orphan, seen caring in a motherly way for other children in her group home), and Astaire’s status as a fun-loving millionaire makes him an obvious catch for any sophisticated young woman. With that said, the storyline and Johnny Mercer’s soundtrack — other than the duo’s fun performance of “Something’s Gotta Give” — aren’t really exceptional or memorable enough to elevate this film into classic status; it’s fun Cinemascope escapism, but nothing more.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Leslie Caron as Julie
    Daddy Long Legs Caron
  • Astaire and Caron performing “Something’s Gotta Give”
    Daddy Long Legs Something's Gotta Give

Must See?
No, though fans of Astaire and/or Caron will likely want to check it out.

Links:

One Response to “Daddy Long Legs (1955)”

  1. Not a must.

    A mildly enjoyable musical that is nevertheless a little stodgy and over-written. There is one lively group dance number (‘Slewfoot’), a charming ballet sequence and one genuine song highlight (‘Something’s Gotta Give’ – standing out in stark contrast and a justifiably famous tune). But things do start getting a little long in the leg near the end, during a fantasy number that borrows a bit much from both ‘An American in Paris’ and ‘Singin’ in the Rain’.

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