Daddy Long Legs (1955)

126 mins | Musical, Romance | May 1955

Full page view
HISTORY

The novel by Jean Webster, grand-niece of Mark Twain, first appeared as a serial in Ladies Home Journal (Apr—Sep 1912). She wrote a play based on her work, also entitled Daddy Long-Legs , which had its New York premiere on 28 Sep 1914. In Webster’s original story, the orphaned young woman is an American named “Judy Abbott”; several reviews of the 1955 film noted that the character had been changed to accommodate French actress Leslie Caron. Although the film’s title is Daddy Long Legs , within the picture, “Julie” addresses her letters to “Dear Daddy Longlegs.” [Webster's novel is written as a series of letters through which the story is revealed.] The picture features several elaborate production numbers, including a sequence in which “Jervis Pendleton III” imagines himself as the Texas millionaire, international playboy or guardian angel that Julie’s letters speculate he might be, and another during which Julie dreams that she is chasing Jervis in Paris, Hong Kong and Rio de Janeiro.
       Twentieth Century-Fox announced plans to produce a musical version of Daddy Long Legs in Dec 1951, when, according to a HR news item, Mitzi Gaynor was “penciled in as the star.” The news item also reported that Casey Robinson was to produce the picture, with Alec Wilder and William Engvick set to compose the songs. In Jan 1954, Leslie Caron was borrowed from M-G-M for the production. According to studio publicity, the film was to begin shooting preproduction numbers on 15 Sep 1954, but was halted due to the death of Fred Astaire’s wife Phyllis on 14 Sep 1954. A modern source reports that Maurice Chevalier was on ... More Less

The novel by Jean Webster, grand-niece of Mark Twain, first appeared as a serial in Ladies Home Journal (Apr—Sep 1912). She wrote a play based on her work, also entitled Daddy Long-Legs , which had its New York premiere on 28 Sep 1914. In Webster’s original story, the orphaned young woman is an American named “Judy Abbott”; several reviews of the 1955 film noted that the character had been changed to accommodate French actress Leslie Caron. Although the film’s title is Daddy Long Legs , within the picture, “Julie” addresses her letters to “Dear Daddy Longlegs.” [Webster's novel is written as a series of letters through which the story is revealed.] The picture features several elaborate production numbers, including a sequence in which “Jervis Pendleton III” imagines himself as the Texas millionaire, international playboy or guardian angel that Julie’s letters speculate he might be, and another during which Julie dreams that she is chasing Jervis in Paris, Hong Kong and Rio de Janeiro.
       Twentieth Century-Fox announced plans to produce a musical version of Daddy Long Legs in Dec 1951, when, according to a HR news item, Mitzi Gaynor was “penciled in as the star.” The news item also reported that Casey Robinson was to produce the picture, with Alec Wilder and William Engvick set to compose the songs. In Jan 1954, Leslie Caron was borrowed from M-G-M for the production. According to studio publicity, the film was to begin shooting preproduction numbers on 15 Sep 1954, but was halted due to the death of Fred Astaire’s wife Phyllis on 14 Sep 1954. A modern source reports that Maurice Chevalier was on “stand-by” to assume the role of Jervis if Astaire felt unable to work, but Astaire, who had expressed great enthusiasm for the role when it was offered to him by studio production chief Darryl F. Zanuck, decided to proceed. Although modern sources note that Astaire was supposed to make another film for the studio, Daddy Long Legs was his only picture at Fox.
       A HR news item and studio publicity reported that the portraits of “Jervis Pendleton” and “Jervis Pendleton II” were painted by Emil Kosa, Jr., in the style of James Abbott McNeill Whistler and John Singer Sargent, respectively, while the portrait of “Jervis Pendleton III,” in the style of Pablo Picasso, was painted by director Jean Negulesco. Negulesco also created the poster for “Julie’s” dream appearance at the Paris Opera ballet. Studio publicity added that Negulesco borrowed many famous paintings for the “Pendleton art gallery,” including a real Picasso, Henri Matisse and Georges Bracque, as well as a portrait of Deborah Kerr’s daughter painted by Claudette Colbert. An 11 Jan 1955 HR news item noted that one sequence of the film was to be shot on location at Los Angeles International Airport, where art directors Lyle Wheeler and John DeCuir had “built a duplicate of New York’s LaGuardia Airport.” Studio publicity reported that the exterior of Andrew Carnegie’s Fifth Avenue mansion was used as the exterior of Jervis’ New York home. According to a 31 Dec 1954 HR news item, Milton Krasner briefly filled in for director of photography Leon Shamroy.
       HR news items include the following actors and dancers in the film, although their appearance in the released picture has not been confirmed: Liliane Montevecchi, Claire Sombert, Monica Schilland, Jamie Bowers, Anna Schelska, Claudine Barbini, Pat Trebble, Irina Kosmorska, Anna Maldin, Wilda Beeber, Margie Baker, Valentina Oumansky, Lila Zoli, Gloria Atherton, Patsy Bangs, Marlina Tepel, Arin Evans, Ino McKinsey, Darleen Engle, Bruce Stowell, Alex Ruiz, Leo Wheeler, Frank Radcliffe, Brogg Bain, Robert Rossolat, Dick Gargano, Alberto Felliano, Paul Rees, Wilson Morelli, Sacha Rodin, Jose Ferran, Rich Nordt, Aaron Girard, Carl Ratcliff, Fritz Hess, Bertie Eckhart, Harold DeGard, Chester Hayes, Doyle Brooks, Otto Sinclair, Manuel Reyes, Loren Janes, Carl Dolen, Mark Sutherland, Ken Osmond, David Kasday, Charles Tannen, Moscha Lazrah, Pat Sheehan, Pat Barker, Lysa Baugher, Sheila Meyers, Beth Marie Roe, Joet Robinson, Mitzi Sutherland, Pat Volckso, Carolee Winchester, Bob Bush, Rodney Beiber, Fred Curt, Ted Cook, John Lewis, Don Torillo, Jim Merrill, Clark Lee, Melinda Markey, Diana Peters, Gwen Caldwell, Caroline Scott, Mimi Hutson, John Carlyle, Paul Glass, Robert Lynn, Jr., Thelma Wunder, Alice Clift, Raenell Laskey, Naga Norgen, Barbara Burke, Isabel Randolph, Gilbert Wilson, Lucy Lee Newman, Carroll Newman, Dick Simmons, Denise Lemley, Patricia Ann Schmid, Beverly Thompson, Suzanne Alexander, Vick Carpenter, Jean A. Carroll, Barrie Chase, Dona Lou Cole, Doris Jean Gildart, Betty Jean Hansen, Diane Cecelia How, Alma Jean Moorhead and Jeanne Warren.
       According to the Life review of the film, many of the dancers from Roland Petit’s Ballets de Paris appeared in the picture. Caron had been a member of the company prior to working in the film. Modern sources state that Thurl Ravenscroft dubbed Astaire’s voice in the “Texas Millionaire” dream sequence. Although a 3 May 1955 item in HR ’s “Rambling Reporter” column stated that “Fox is going nuts making last-minute changes demanded by the Legion of Decency,” no information about censorship problems was found in the film’s file at the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library. The picture’s gala premiere in Los Angeles was a benefit for St. John’s Hospital, and the New York premiere benefitted the March of Dimes. Daddy Long Legs received Academy Award nominations for Best Art Direction (Color), Best Music (Scoring of a Musical Picture) and Best Song for “Something’s Got to Give.”
       Jean Webster’s novel and play served as the basis for several other films, including the 1919 First National Release titled Daddy-Long-Legs and starring Mary Pickford and directed by Marshall A. Neilan (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1911-20 ); the 1931 Fox production Daddy Long Legs , which was directed by Alfred Santell and starred Janet Gaynor and Warner Baxter; another Fox picture, released in 1935 and entitled Curly Top --although Webster's materials were not acknowledged in the onscreen credits--which starred Shirley Temple and was directed by Irving Cummings (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40 ) ; and the 1938 Netherlands production, Vadertje Langbeen , directed by Friedrich Zelnik. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
7 May 1955.
---
Box Office
11 Jun 1955.
---
Daily Variety
4 May 55
p. 3.
Film Daily
4 May 55
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Dec 1951
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Jan 1954
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Aug 1954
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Oct 1954
p. 2, 4.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Oct 1954
p. 4, 8.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Oct 1954
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Oct 1954
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Oct 1954
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Nov 1954
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Nov 1954
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Nov 1954
p. 2, 4.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Nov 1954
p. 2, 6, 10, 12.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Nov 1954
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Nov 1954
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Nov 1954
p. 8, 11.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Nov 1954
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Nov 1954
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Nov 1954
p. 1, 11.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Dec 1954
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Dec 1954
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Dec 1954
p. 17.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Dec 1954
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
31 Dec 1954
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Jan 1955
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
31 Jan 1955
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Feb 1955
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Mar 1955
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
3 May 1955
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
4 May 1955
pp. 1-3.
Hollywood Reporter
5 May 1955
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
6 May 1955
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Jul 1955
p. 3.
LA Mirror-News
5 May 1955.
---
Life
23 May 1955.
---
Look
17 May 1955.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
7 May 55
p. 425.
New York Times
6 May 55
pp. 17-18.
New York Times
15 May 1955.
---
New Yorker
14 May 1955.
---
Newsweek
16 May 1955.
---
Saturday Review
21 May 1955.
---
Time
9 May 1955.
---
Variety
4 May 55
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Fill-in dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
Portrait painter
Portrait painter
Sculptor
COSTUMES
Ward dir
Modern ward des
Ballet cost des
MUSIC
Mus supv and cond
Vocal supv
Paris, Hong Kong, Rio ballet mus
Orch
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
DANCE
Ballets by
Dances staged by
Dances staged by
Asst to Roland Petit
Asst choreographer
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Hair styling
PRODUCTION MISC
Unit mgr
Scr supv
Dial coach
Fred Astaire's drum coach
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col consultant
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster (New York, 1912) and her play of the same name (New York, 28 Sep 1914).
AUTHOR
MUSIC
"Drum Solo" by Skip Martin.
SONGS
"Something's Got to Give," "Dream," "History of the Beat," "Sluefoot," "Welcome Egghead," "C-A-T Spells Cat," "Daddy Long Legs," "Dancing Through Life" and "That'll Get It When It's Almost Gone," music and lyrics by Johnny Mercer.
DETAILS
Release Date:
May 1955
Premiere Information:
World premiere in Los Angeles: 4 May 1955
New York premiere: 5 May 1955
Production Date:
11 October 1954--10 February 1955
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Copyright Date:
5 May 1955
Copyright Number:
LP5210
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Color
De Luxe
Widescreen/ratio
CinemaScope
Lenses/Prints
lenses by Bausch & Lomb
Duration(in mins):
126
Length(in feet):
11,381
Length(in reels):
15
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
17247
SYNOPSIS

Jazz-loving millionaire playboy Jervis Pendleton III is persuaded by his stern assistant Griggs to leave his New York mansion to accompany a U.S. State Department fact-finding mission to France. While on an isolated road to Paris, the group’s car breaks down, and Jervis walks to find a phone. He soon comes across an orphanage, and while waiting for the matron, watches with amusement as a young woman makes a game out of serving the childrens' meagre lunches. Upon meeting Madame Sevanne, the orphanage matron, Jervis inquires about the girl, Julie Andre, and learns that she has lived there her entire life. Madame Sevanne laments the fact that the eighteen-year-old leads such a dull existence, and that her suitors are boring farmers. When Jervis reaches Paris, he meets his old friend, stodgy embassy attaché Alec Williamson, and asks how to adopt a French orphan. Alec is horrified when middle-aged Jervis mentions that his intended orphan is an eighteen-year-old young woman, although Jervis swears that he only wishes to send her to America to receive a proper education. Alec agrees to make the arrangements on the condition that Jervis’ sponsorship of Julie remains anonymous, and Jervis agrees, then enrolls her in Massachusetts' Walston College, to which he is a large contributor. Jervis himself drops off the papers for Julie, who is overwhelmed to learn of her good fortune, but does not catch a glimpse of her mysterious benefactor, whom Madame Sevanne says is named "John Smith." The children, who saw only his shadow, describe him as tall and thin, with legs like a daddy longlegs spider. After her first exciting day at Walston, during which she meets her roommates, Sally McBride ... +


Jazz-loving millionaire playboy Jervis Pendleton III is persuaded by his stern assistant Griggs to leave his New York mansion to accompany a U.S. State Department fact-finding mission to France. While on an isolated road to Paris, the group’s car breaks down, and Jervis walks to find a phone. He soon comes across an orphanage, and while waiting for the matron, watches with amusement as a young woman makes a game out of serving the childrens' meagre lunches. Upon meeting Madame Sevanne, the orphanage matron, Jervis inquires about the girl, Julie Andre, and learns that she has lived there her entire life. Madame Sevanne laments the fact that the eighteen-year-old leads such a dull existence, and that her suitors are boring farmers. When Jervis reaches Paris, he meets his old friend, stodgy embassy attaché Alec Williamson, and asks how to adopt a French orphan. Alec is horrified when middle-aged Jervis mentions that his intended orphan is an eighteen-year-old young woman, although Jervis swears that he only wishes to send her to America to receive a proper education. Alec agrees to make the arrangements on the condition that Jervis’ sponsorship of Julie remains anonymous, and Jervis agrees, then enrolls her in Massachusetts' Walston College, to which he is a large contributor. Jervis himself drops off the papers for Julie, who is overwhelmed to learn of her good fortune, but does not catch a glimpse of her mysterious benefactor, whom Madame Sevanne says is named "John Smith." The children, who saw only his shadow, describe him as tall and thin, with legs like a daddy longlegs spider. After her first exciting day at Walston, during which she meets her roommates, Sally McBride and Jervis’ niece Linda, Julie begins her first letter to her guardian, for she has been instructed to write to him once a month. The letter soon arrives on the desk of the down-to-earth Miss Prichard, Griggs’s secretary, and although they are bemused by Julie’s salutation of “Dear Daddy Longlegs,” Griggs tells Miss Prichard to file the letter without showing it to Jervis. As the months pass, Julie is disappointed not to receive any replies to her letters, but continues to write and work hard at her studies. After two years, however, Julie expresses her disillusionment in her latest letter, and both Prichard and Griggs, who by now eagerly anticipate Julie’s letters, are upset that Jervis shows no interest in her. Griggs decides to show the letters to Jervis, who had completely forgotten about “his” orphan. After reading Julie’s letters, Jervis decides to attend a spring dance at Walston on the pretext of visiting Linda, whom he has not seen since she was an infant. At the college, Jervis is delighted to see Julie, who has matured into a poised young woman. Julie confides in Jervis that she would like to care for her guardian, whom she assumes is elderly, after graduation, but is afraid that he no longer has any interest in her. Then, much to the chagrin of Sally’s brother Jimmy, who is infatuated with Julie, Jervis stuns the other students by skillfully dancing with Julie to a wild rock and roll number. By the time he returns to New York, Jervis has fallen in love with Julie, although he still has not told her that he is her “Daddy Longlegs.” Griggs is suspicious when Jervis offers to “help” Jimmy by obtaining a job for him in far-off Bolivia, but Jervis insists that his motives are pure. A few months later, Jervis invites Linda and Julie to spend the weekend in New York, and is is momentarily nonplussed when Julie arrives unaccompanied by Linda, who is ill. Julie sets Jervis at ease, however, and the couple spends the evening dancing at the city's glamorous nightclubs. The next morning, Jervis purchases an engagement ring for Julie, but when he goes to her hotel to have breakfast with her, their conversation is overheard by Alec, who coicidentally is staying in a suite with a balcony adjoining Julie’s. Alec misinterprets the couple’s conversation and assumes that Jervis has reneged on his agreement. Alec calls Jervis to his rooms, and although Jervis is outraged by Alec’s accusations, he concludes that Alec is right about his and Julie’s age difference, and that he must forget about marrying her and bring Jimmy back to the United States. Julie, who has fallen in love with Jervis, is devastated when he telephones with news that he is leaving the country immediately on business. Julie returns to Walston and there begins a scrapbook of the newspaper reports of Jervis’ adventures with glamorous women. Despite her emotional pain, Julie does well at school and soon is ready to graduate. Desperate, Julie sends one last letter to her guardian, begging for advice. Miss Prichard, unable to bear Julie’s heartbreak, insists that Griggs help her to trick Jervis into returning home and reuniting with Julie. On graduation day, Miss Prichard attends the ceremony and congratulates the bewildered Julie, who cheers up upon hearing that they are going to New York so that she can finally meet her guardian. In New York, Jervis is angry about Griggs’s trick and insists that he pretend to be Julie’s guardian, until he learns from Linda that she is to marry Jimmy, whom she has always loved and that Julie has been miserable since Jervis' departure. When Julie arrives at the Pendleton mansion, she is ushered in with a group touring Jervis’ art collection, and upon seeing the painting of Jervis’ grandfather as an elderly man, realizes that he is the “Daddy Longlegs” she had envisioned. Thrilled to be reunited with Jervis, Julie accepts his marriage proposal, and the beaming Griggs and Prichard watch as the couple shares their first kiss. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.