Cheaper by the Dozen (1950)

86 mins | Comedy-drama | April 1950

Director:

Walter Lang

Writer:

Lamar Trotti

Producer:

Lamar Trotti

Cinematographer:

Leon Shamroy

Production Designers:

Lyle Wheeler, Leland Fuller

Production Company:

Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
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HISTORY

The film begins with the following written statement: "This is the True Story of an American Family." According to documents in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department at the UCLA Arts--Special Collections Library, the studio purchased the rights to Cheaper By the Dozen , a "non-fictional novel," in Feb 1949 for $75,000. The fee was divided thus: $55,000 to the authors and $20,000 divided equally between Dr. Lillian Gilbreth and the other still living children. An additional sum of $25,000 was paid based on the book's sales. A HR news item in Jan 1950 reported that Cheaper By the Dozen was the first Twentieth Century-Fox film to have sound recorded magnetically onto 35mm film.
       In an interview published in LAEx on 4 Feb 1953, Dr. Lillian Gilbreth stated, "When my husband passed away 29 years ago, I was faced with the responsibility of raising my family and providing a living for them. It wasn't an easy task. Luckily, my health was good and my children cooperative. I met the challenge because I had a burning desire to succeed, first as a mother, and secondly as a business woman." Gilbreth was a psychologist by profession and lived into her 90's.
       Co-authors Ernestine Gilbreth Carey (1908--2006) and Frank B. Gilbreth, Jr. (1911-2001), portrayed respectively in the film by Barbara Bates and Norman Ollestad, were younger siblings of Ann Gilbreth Barney, the oldest of the twelve Gilbreth children, portrayed in the film by Jeanne Crain. Ann died in 1987 at age 81. On May 30 1993 the Montclair, New Jersey Sunday Star-Ledger published an article about a reunion of ... More Less

The film begins with the following written statement: "This is the True Story of an American Family." According to documents in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department at the UCLA Arts--Special Collections Library, the studio purchased the rights to Cheaper By the Dozen , a "non-fictional novel," in Feb 1949 for $75,000. The fee was divided thus: $55,000 to the authors and $20,000 divided equally between Dr. Lillian Gilbreth and the other still living children. An additional sum of $25,000 was paid based on the book's sales. A HR news item in Jan 1950 reported that Cheaper By the Dozen was the first Twentieth Century-Fox film to have sound recorded magnetically onto 35mm film.
       In an interview published in LAEx on 4 Feb 1953, Dr. Lillian Gilbreth stated, "When my husband passed away 29 years ago, I was faced with the responsibility of raising my family and providing a living for them. It wasn't an easy task. Luckily, my health was good and my children cooperative. I met the challenge because I had a burning desire to succeed, first as a mother, and secondly as a business woman." Gilbreth was a psychologist by profession and lived into her 90's.
       Co-authors Ernestine Gilbreth Carey (1908--2006) and Frank B. Gilbreth, Jr. (1911-2001), portrayed respectively in the film by Barbara Bates and Norman Ollestad, were younger siblings of Ann Gilbreth Barney, the oldest of the twelve Gilbreth children, portrayed in the film by Jeanne Crain. Ann died in 1987 at age 81. On May 30 1993 the Montclair, New Jersey Sunday Star-Ledger published an article about a reunion of six of the eight surviving family members and revealed that the book's initial publication in 1948 by the Thomas Y. Crowell Company occasioned a phenomenal thirty-nine printings, and that a 1963 edition, which included an updated chapter on the children's lives as adults, was also printed several times. Some reviews list the character played by Betty Lynn as "Libby"; this was changed just prior to production to "Deborah". A radio version, starring Clifton Webb, was broadcast on Lux Radio Theatre on 7 May 1951. In 1952, Twentieth Century-Fox released Belles on Their Toes , a sequel starring Loy, Crain and Debra Paget and directed by Henry Levin. In 2003, 20th Century Fox released a remake of Cheaper by the Dozen , directed by Shawn Levy and starring Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt. As of spring 2005, a sequel to that film, entitled Cheaper by the Dozen 2 , was in pre-production. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
27 Mar 50
p. 3.
Film Daily
28 Mar 50
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Oct 49
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Jan 50
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Mar 50
p. 3.
Los Angeles Examiner
2 Feb 1953.
---
Los Angeles Times
28 Feb 87
Part 1, p. 27.
Montclair Sunday Star-Ledger
30 May 1993.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
1 Apr 50
p. 245.
New York Times
1 Apr 50
p. 12.
Variety
29 Mar 50
p. 11.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
Dial dir
Dial dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
Ward dir
Cost des
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Script supv
COLOR PERSONNEL
Technicolor color consultant
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank B. Gilbreth, Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey (New York, 1948).
MUSIC
"In My Merry Oldsmobile," music by Gus Edwards
"Love's Old Sweet Song" by James Lyman Molloy
"Row, Row, Row," music by James V. Monaco
+
MUSIC
"In My Merry Oldsmobile," music by Gus Edwards
"Love's Old Sweet Song" by James Lyman Molloy
"Row, Row, Row," music by James V. Monaco
"Na Lei o Hawaii (Song of the Islands)" by Charles E. King
"On the Beach at Waikiki," music by Henry Kailimai
"Ja-Da" by Bob Carleton and "The Vamp" by Byron Gay.
+
SONGS
"When You Wore A Tulip and I Wore a Big Red Rose," music by Percy Wenrich, lyrics by Jack Mahoney.
DETAILS
Release Date:
April 1950
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 31 March 1950
Production Date:
20 October--23 December 1949
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Copyright Date:
22 March 1950
Copyright Number:
LP71
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
86
Length(in feet):
7,749
Length(in reels):
9
Country:
United States
PCA No:
14218
SYNOPSIS

Ann Gilbreth, the oldest of the twelve children of Frank and Lillian Gilbreth, begins to relate some episodes from her family's history. In 1921, when Ann is sixteen, the family lives in Providence, Rhode Island, where her father, an industrial engineer, is also an efficiency expert utilizing time and motion studies. Frank informs the family that they are moving to Montclair, New Jersey. Once the family is established there, Frank chairs one of his regular family council meetings to assign the children various chores that will assist Lillian and the two servants, Mrs. Monahan and Jim Bracken. When Frank goes to enroll five of the children in school, he tells the principal that he would like to meet the teachers, explaining that he wants the children placed in higher grades as their mental ages exceed their physical ages thanks to the complete home training program he has devised for them. Teenagers Ann and Ernestine, who will be attending a different school, have accompanied their father and are mortified when, though fully clothed, he demonstrates his time efficient method for taking a bath in the time it takes to play a phonograph record. Some time later, a doctor's car is parked in front of the Gilbreths' house, which normally signals the arrival of a new baby, but this time means that several of the children have whooping cough. While he is there, Dr. Burton examines everyone's tonsils and decides they should all come out, including Frank's. Always looking for opportunities to use time more efficiently, Frank decides to make a filmed record of the surgeries in order to help physicians eliminate wasted motions. The stalwart Frank thinks there is nothing ... +


Ann Gilbreth, the oldest of the twelve children of Frank and Lillian Gilbreth, begins to relate some episodes from her family's history. In 1921, when Ann is sixteen, the family lives in Providence, Rhode Island, where her father, an industrial engineer, is also an efficiency expert utilizing time and motion studies. Frank informs the family that they are moving to Montclair, New Jersey. Once the family is established there, Frank chairs one of his regular family council meetings to assign the children various chores that will assist Lillian and the two servants, Mrs. Monahan and Jim Bracken. When Frank goes to enroll five of the children in school, he tells the principal that he would like to meet the teachers, explaining that he wants the children placed in higher grades as their mental ages exceed their physical ages thanks to the complete home training program he has devised for them. Teenagers Ann and Ernestine, who will be attending a different school, have accompanied their father and are mortified when, though fully clothed, he demonstrates his time efficient method for taking a bath in the time it takes to play a phonograph record. Some time later, a doctor's car is parked in front of the Gilbreths' house, which normally signals the arrival of a new baby, but this time means that several of the children have whooping cough. While he is there, Dr. Burton examines everyone's tonsils and decides they should all come out, including Frank's. Always looking for opportunities to use time more efficiently, Frank decides to make a filmed record of the surgeries in order to help physicians eliminate wasted motions. The stalwart Frank thinks there is nothing to a tonsillectomy, but when it comes his turn to visit the operating room that has been set up in the house, he emerges from the procedure weak and shaken, a situation that is exacerbated by the revelation that the cameraman, Mr. Higgins, forgot to put film in the camera. Some time later, while several of the children are receiving a music lesson and are mangling their rendition of "Love's Old Sweet Song," Frank tells Lillian that he may be invited to speak on motion study at an international management conference in Prague, Czechoslovakia. Lillian then reminds him that she is on her way to the hospital to have another child. They name the child Robert, and he rounds out the "even" dozen children they planned of six boys and six girls. At another family council meeting, young William moves that they buy a dog, a motion that is carried, even though the chairman, Frank, objects. The dog, whom the family names "Mr. Chairman," develops a great affection for Frank. One day, a neighbor suggests that Lillian, who also had a career as a psychologist and industrial consultant, might serve as president of a new local chapter of Planned Parenthood, and is chagrined to find out how many children the Gilbreths have. Every summer, the family spends their holiday on Nantucket Island. One summer, Ann is attracted to young Tom Black, who attends her school, and, along with Ernestine, Ann is upset that Frank forbids them to wear bathing suits that reveal their knees. Back home, when Ann is invited to the senior prom, Frank insists on going along as a chaperone, and because the family car will not start, Frank has to go into the rumble seat of Tom's jalopy. Despite Ann's fears, Frank ends up being the hit of the dance, with many of Ann's friends wanting to dance with him. Later, Frank prepares for his two-month-long trip to Europe. After saying goodbye to the family, Frank suddenly and totally unexpectedly, collapses at the Montclair station and dies. Lillian calls a family council meeting of the older children and tells them that the money Frank left has had to go back into the business. She has talked with their grandmother in California who wants them to live with her. Their only other choice would be for Lillian to take over father's business, but that would mean that the family would have to live very simply and the children would have to help more around the house. Lillian then decides to go to Prague and London to give Frank's speeches. The children all agree that they should try to stay together and that they will manage things well. Ann finishes her account of the family history by saying that her mother did carry on Frank's work, became the foremost woman industrial engineer in the world and, in 1948, was named America's "Woman of the Year." +

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

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