Belles on Their Toes (1952)

Genres - Comedy, Romance  |   Sub-Genres - Americana, Domestic Comedy, Family Drama  |   Run Time - 88 min.  |   Countries - USA  |  
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As a sequel, Belles on Their Toes faces a special challenge: how do you do a continuation of a film (namely, Cheaper by the Dozen) without the main character (namely the father, played by Clifton Webb) who was the cornerstone of the original? In this case, the answer is to focus on the mother. Fortunately, the mother in this case is played by Myrna Loy, who was to a degree wasted in Cheaper; now that she's front and center, Loy gets a chance to shine and takes full advantage of the opportunity. Loy is in full command of Belles, even though Jeanne Crain and her subplot romance keeps threatening to take over, and even though Debra Paget and Barbara Bates also try to steal some screen time. But Loy is more than enough match for these upstarts, and even when their stories take center stage for a while, her presence is very much felt. Like Cheaper, Belles is essentially a series of events strung together, but in Belles the stringing is more noticeable and a bit bothersome. Belles also has a bit of an identity crisis, not sure if it is a musical, a comedy, a drama, or just an affectionate valentine to a bygone era. It never does seem to make up its mind, and that indecisiveness of tone, along with the episodic nature of the screenplay, damages Belles. But with Loy around, the damage is not too severe.