The First Time (1952)

89-90 mins | Romantic comedy | February 1952

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HISTORY

The working title of this film was Small Wonder . The film is narrated by "the Bennets'" infant son "Timothy" until the final scenes, when the narration is picked up by Timothy's new baby sister.
       According to HR news items, Robert Cummings replaced Larry Parks in the role of "Joe Bennet." It is uncertain whether Parks's replacement was related to his testimony before the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) in Mar 1951. Parks had been subpoenaed in Sep 1947 in HUAC's original investigation of the motion picture industry, but was labeled an "unfriendly witness" and not called to testify. Parks was subpoenaed again by HUAC on 22 Mar 1951, coinciding with production of The First Time . For additional information on Parks's career following the HUAC testimony, please see the entry for the 1952 M-G-M production Love Is Better Than Ever . ... More Less

The working title of this film was Small Wonder . The film is narrated by "the Bennets'" infant son "Timothy" until the final scenes, when the narration is picked up by Timothy's new baby sister.
       According to HR news items, Robert Cummings replaced Larry Parks in the role of "Joe Bennet." It is uncertain whether Parks's replacement was related to his testimony before the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) in Mar 1951. Parks had been subpoenaed in Sep 1947 in HUAC's original investigation of the motion picture industry, but was labeled an "unfriendly witness" and not called to testify. Parks was subpoenaed again by HUAC on 22 Mar 1951, coinciding with production of The First Time . For additional information on Parks's career following the HUAC testimony, please see the entry for the 1952 M-G-M production Love Is Better Than Ever .
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
26 Jan 1952.
---
Daily Variety
25 Jan 52
p. 3.
Film Daily
31 Jan 52
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Apr 51
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Apr 51
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
18 May 51
p. 22.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Feb 52
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Jan 52
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
26 Jan 52
p. 1214.
Variety
30 Jan 52
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
PRODUCER
WRITERS
Based on a story by
Based on a story by
Story
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Gowns
MUSIC
Mus dir
SOUND
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairstyles
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Small Wonder
Release Date:
February 1952
Premiere Information:
San Francisco opening: 15 February 1952
Production Date:
26 April--22 May 1951
Copyright Claimant:
Halburt Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
25 January 1952
Copyright Number:
LP1426
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
89-90
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
15387
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Young married couple Betsey and Joe Bennet fly into a brief panic when Betsey announces her labor pains have begun late one night. Then Betsey settles down to enjoy a banana sandwich and stoically advises Joe that should anything unexpected happen, her will leaves him her share of the couple's debts. With encouragement from neighbors Donna and Mel Gilbert, the Bennets finally head for the hospital, knocking over their trash cans as they pull out of the driveway. Betsey's mother, the fashionable and eternally youthful Cassie Mayhew, is delighted to hear of Timothy Bennet's birth, as are Joe's parents, Andrew and Florence. Joe's enthusiasm is dealt a crushing blow when he is presented with the hospital bill, which he must pay for with a rubber check. At home, Joe borrows money from Mel and wonders how he and Betsey's careful financial planning could have been so inaccurate. Joe is further devastated to learn that the nurse the hospital has recommended to help Betsey for a month, costs fifty-five dollars a week, his weekly salary as an architect. Lured by the promise of high commission bonuses, Joe quits his job to become a salesman for the Whirlamat clothes washer company. Cassie and Florence arrive, offering to help until Betsey breaks down over having to decide which grandmother should stay or go. Nurse Salisbury then moves in and ruthlessly imposes an iron regime on the Bennets' household, which revolves around Timmy's feeding time. By the end of four weeks, Joe is delighted to see Nurse Salisbury depart while Betsey sinks into despair at having to deal with the baby alone. The Bennets stumble through ... +


Young married couple Betsey and Joe Bennet fly into a brief panic when Betsey announces her labor pains have begun late one night. Then Betsey settles down to enjoy a banana sandwich and stoically advises Joe that should anything unexpected happen, her will leaves him her share of the couple's debts. With encouragement from neighbors Donna and Mel Gilbert, the Bennets finally head for the hospital, knocking over their trash cans as they pull out of the driveway. Betsey's mother, the fashionable and eternally youthful Cassie Mayhew, is delighted to hear of Timothy Bennet's birth, as are Joe's parents, Andrew and Florence. Joe's enthusiasm is dealt a crushing blow when he is presented with the hospital bill, which he must pay for with a rubber check. At home, Joe borrows money from Mel and wonders how he and Betsey's careful financial planning could have been so inaccurate. Joe is further devastated to learn that the nurse the hospital has recommended to help Betsey for a month, costs fifty-five dollars a week, his weekly salary as an architect. Lured by the promise of high commission bonuses, Joe quits his job to become a salesman for the Whirlamat clothes washer company. Cassie and Florence arrive, offering to help until Betsey breaks down over having to decide which grandmother should stay or go. Nurse Salisbury then moves in and ruthlessly imposes an iron regime on the Bennets' household, which revolves around Timmy's feeding time. By the end of four weeks, Joe is delighted to see Nurse Salisbury depart while Betsey sinks into despair at having to deal with the baby alone. The Bennets stumble through a few more weeks of parenthood and are relieved when Timmy's six-week physical examination is completely positive. Hoping to get one night off together, Joe recruits a teenage babysitter, whom Betsey immediately rejects as too young. When Joe then hires the girl's grandmother, Betsey swiftly determines that the old woman is deaf and she is dismissed. Acting on a friend's advice, Joe drives to pick up a recommended sitter, but gets the wrong street corner and only after driving some way with an amorously inclined woman does he realize his error. The Bennets end up at a drive-in with the baby. One evening an exhausted Joe arrives home to find the house in shambles, no dinner available and his beer warm. Over a hastily assembled dinner of cold cuts, Joe complains that Betsey is simply inefficient as she cannot manage running the house, even though she has so little to do all day. When the "Tidy Didy" diaper serviceman appears, Joe demands to know why Betsey is not using their new Whirlamat, and she points out that the machine rips up Timmy's diapers. As Joe scolds Betsey for letting herself go to pot, she complains that he is not selling enough Whirlamats. A bitter argument ensues, culminating with Betsey's refusal to accept Joe's heatedly offered gift of a black negligee. Joe sleeps on the sofa and the next day contemplates various ways of getting back at Betsey, but simply returns home from work resigned. To his surprise, he is greeted by a multiple course dinner simmering on the stove, a pie on the table, cold beer and Betsey seductively attractive in her negligee. Betsey fawns over the astonished Joe for some moments before asking him if this is the home he expects. When Joe assents, Betsey hurls the plates at him, calls him a tyrant and storms off. Furious, Joe joins Mel for a boy's-night-out and returns home drunk. The next morning, however, after reconsidering, Betsey makes up with the hungover Joe. Later in the day, Betsey grows concerned over her sudden craving for bananas, and after visiting the doctor has her suspicions of being pregnant again confirmed. Meanwhile, Joe has received a steady list of complaints from his clients about the Whirlamat's deficiencies. He is disappointed when his boss, Mr. Leeming, refuses to take the charges seriously. During a sales promotion meeting, Joe uses the situation to demonstrate the washer's poor performance and is promptly fired. The next day, Timmy's first birthday, Joe decides he has had enough of fatherhood and being a husband and packs to leave. Cassie confides to an angry Betsey that she made a mistake by letting Betsey's father leave years before and advises her daughter not to repeat the error. Betsey refuses to tell Joe about the new baby, but when Joe knocks over the trash cans while pulling out of the driveway and spots the banana peels, he rushes back inside and confronts Betsey. Joe is delighted about the new baby and after a complete reconciliation, the older and wiser Bennets eagerly await the arrival of their new daughter. +

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

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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.