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5.0 out of 5 stars "The Bad Ladies Always Have Big Busts; That's How You Can Tell A Good Lady From A Bad Lady", March 20, 2006
This review is from: The Courtship of Eddie's Father (DVD)
"The Courtship Of Eddie's Father" was made in 1962 and released in movie theaters in March 1963. It's a mix of romantic comedy and drama, with a good blend of sad but poignant moments and funny ones too (including a few 'fall-on-the-floor' segments of hilarity). And the "through-the-eyes-of-Eddie" ending is just perfect.

Most of the really funny scenes in the film are supplied by 8-year-old Ronny Howard, who makes his way through a rollercoaster of emotions in the movie, and still stays on the rails of "believability" while doing so, IMO. He's very funny at times in "Courtship", and also is able to turn on the water works as needed too. I, myself, have never seen a better child actor up on the screen (big screen or small), although 11-year-old Dean Stockwell's performance in 1947's "Gentleman's Agreement" would rank pretty high in that category as well.

Ronny Howard made "Courtship" during a break in the filming of his TV series, "The Andy Griffith Show", on which Howard played "Opie Taylor" (probably the cutest kid ever on TV, especially during Season 1 of that popular and endearing sitcom). I'm guessing that this movie was filmed sometime between seasons two and three of the Griffith Show.

The intelligent and snappy script for "The Courtship Of Eddie's Father" dishes up several funny lines for Ronny ("Eddie Corbett") to speak, some of which you certainly are not liable to find residing within any script of Ronny's Andy Griffith television series. Such as when Eddie asks his father ("Tom Corbett"; played very nicely by 46-year-old Glenn Ford) the following question:

"Dad, what do the numbers mean after a lady's name? It says here {in this magazine} '40-18-35'."

To which Glenn Ford then replies (having his curiosity most definitely piqued by the robust measurements Eddie just relayed): "Holy smoke, who's that?!"

~LOL!~

By the way -- Those eye-popping measurements were said by Eddie in the film to be those of Jayne Mansfield. Per data I can find, those stats are about right too. According to one online source, Jayne's shapely figure is said to have averaged a head-turning "40-21-35.5". (Tom Corbett was right -- "Holy smoke" indeed!) :-)

Other spirited and precocious dialogue spoken by young lad Edward in this film include references to "big busts", "my sugar man", and a remark about "girls not looking so good from behind". (Ronny, then, must have never wandered over to the set of "The Dick Van Dyke Show" during his tenure as "Opie", in order to watch Mary Tyler Moore. His "from behind" evaluation would be permanently erased from his mind if he had done so.)

~wink~

"Courtship" offers up a splendid and (ahem) well-rounded cast. Besides the two leads of Ford and Howard, there's also the never-lovelier 28-year-old Shirley Jones as the woman next door, plus Stella Stevens, Dina Merrill, Jerry Van Dyke, and Roberta Sherwood.

It's nice to be able to see Jerry Van Dyke here in a role where he doesn't have to portray a clumsy and stuttering wimp-like character. Don't get me wrong, though, Jerry's one of the best "wimps" in the business. No offense. But it's nice to see him in a different, more assertive part for a change, which he plays here as "Norman Jones" (a playboying disc jockey at the radio station where Ford serves as Program Manager). Heck, he ends up with Stella Stevens as a mate; so he certainly can't be called a loser here.

Also watch out for Ronny Howard's real dad, Rance, in a small part as a camp counselor. Rance pops up in a lot of his son's TV shows and movies, often showing up in bit parts on "The Andy Griffith Show" too.

Ronny's brother, Clint, age 3, also has a cameo in "Courtship" (in the birthday-party scene). And "Miss America 1955", Lee Meriwether, has a small role as a secretary/receptionist.

There's a good chemistry in "Courtship" amongst the characters (between Ronny and Glenn and also between Shirley and Glenn). And the delicate subject of losing a wife and mother to sudden death is dealt with honestly and openly throughout the film, producing some heartfelt and realistic scenes between Ford's character and Ronny's.

The "dead fish" scene might have been a tad bit over-the-top, IMO, but what that scene, more than any other, demonstrates in this movie is Ronny Howard's remarkable acting abilities as an eight-year-old boy. The tail-end of that emotional "fish" scene has Ronny shivering and partly crying in a manner that truly makes the viewer believe he has just been through a traumatic experience. (See the Season-Four "Andy Griffith" episode "Opie The Birdman" for another excellent example of Howard's considerable acting chops. He's great there too.)

This movie was filmed with a good deal of tender loving care it seems to me. The colors are rich and luscious and the movie's sets exude an "upper class" kind of quality. The Corbett's plush-looking apartment is probably one that a lot of people would be willing to fork over some serious cash for even today. (Housekeeper "Mrs. Livingston" {Sherwood} even remarks in the film: "There are women who would marry you this very minute for the equipment you have in this apartment".)

I enjoy movies that were made during this particular time period (1950s/1960s). You can almost soak up the era in which the film was made right through the screen, and nestle down comfortably into it.

I had never realized before getting this DVD that this motion picture was filmed in a super-wide "scope" aspect ratio (2.35:1). Heretofore, I'd only seen the film in a Full-Frame (1.33:1) TV format. I imagine many DVD buyers have had similar experiences, where a particular film's original screen shape is totally a mystery until purchasing the movie on the better-quality DVD format.

I didn't know what I was missing (literally) until seeing the film in its intended Widescreen shape. After seeing any movie in its "OAR", it's difficult to tolerate anything less (again, literally). Any pan-and-scanned, Full-Frame version is bound to be second-rate by comparison. And "Courtship" is no exception.

Warner Home Video brought "The Courtship Of Eddie's Father" to DVD with the release of this disc in May of 2003; and they've done a very good job on the film transfer here (IMHO anyway). It isn't what you'd call an absolutely "perfect" DVD print though. A few speckles of dust and dirt appear here and there; and a few places could be honed-in to better razor-sharpness. But, overall, this anamorphic DVD print is clean, with nicely-saturated colors. Many scenes ooze ultra-rich color, with red showing up particularly bright and handsome here.

The DVD has a few Special Features attached. Not too many; but some. There's a three-person Audio Commentary Track, which is nice. The three female leads all participate in the Commentary (Shirley Jones, Dina Merrill, and Stella Stevens).

There's a Theatrical Trailer for the film as well. And it's kind of a "special" trailer, in that it's the "Hollywood Preview Engagement" trailer for the movie (which was only seen in selected theaters around the country). The trailer is in Anamorphic Widescreen here and looks quite clean. It runs for 2:56. Audio for the trailer is in Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono.

The only other bonus items are some text-only production notes and a one-screen list of credits for the cast and crew.

Other Info About This DVD:

Audio is Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (both English and French Mono tracks provided).

Video is Anamorphic Widescreen (2.35:1).

Subtitles are available in three languages (English, French, Spanish).

Menus are anamorphic and static in design. Theme music plays under Main Menu.

30 total Scene Selections (Chapters).

Snap Case (cardboard type) box, with nice-looking artwork. (Looks like original poster art used for the cover.)

--------------------

There's nothing really out-of-this-world spectacular about "The Courtship Of Eddie's Father". But I enjoy watching this film a good deal. The interaction between the characters is both well-done and inspiring. This is just a pleasant, clean, charming, fun, funny (and sometimes sad) movie.

A recommended DVD purchase (even if you're not "40-18-35"). .... Gee whiz, I wonder how such a 'healthy' woman can walk without falling over? Must be quite an adventure. ;)

Bye.
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Apr 10, 2010 9:53:05 AM PDT
Lynne says:
I haven't seen the movie yet, but I love your review of it! Thanks!

Posted on Apr 11, 2010 2:15:40 PM PDT
waltonfan says:
Great review! I hope I laugh as much watching the movie ;)

Posted on Jun 27, 2010 10:00:24 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 27, 2010 10:54:27 AM PDT
Glow Worm says:
True, this adorable little film IS well written, well acted by all and sundry--pleasant, clean, charming, fun, etc., but viewers must allow that throughout most of this film "Eddie" is a soppy shakedown artist and manipulative LITTLE BRAT disguised as "cute" (& abetted by the housekeeper and lady next door) who never does get his comeuppance.

WHY wouldn't Eddie be partial to the Shirley Jone's character? She coos and awes at the very sight of him, ALWAYS takes his side (save for a brief 2 seconds at the very end), and drops buckets of fudge on his lap at bedtime.

Eddie's treatment of his "fatso" girlfriend (not to mention "skinny eyed" Elizabeth) when the chips are down reveals a lot about Eddie. Ditto note the kid's devious manic self satisfaction in the last shot of the film. Eddie has no intention of turning over a new leaf.

Little Eddie's "it's all about me" antics, and the prevailing adult attitude of the 1960s that that is how it should be, is the most fascinating thing about this movie.
Couldn't take my eyes off it.
A precursor, since "The Kid Knows Best" mantra is even more institutionalized now in your average family sitcom.

There's a WHOLE LOT of Hollywood parenting in this film & we know what happened to those kids. In fact, I think I'll go watch it all over again.

Posted on Oct 15, 2011 7:33:23 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 15, 2011 7:34:53 PM PDT
Good review, David. Very accurate.

Yes, I think the fish scene was a little overdone. But the rest of the movie is just about perfect

Once I was watching a documentary about the Andy Griffith Show. That's where Ron Howard became fascinated with the process, with directing. Andy Griffith said something funny. He said that little Ronnie Howard would often make suggestions about how they could do a scene in a different way. But he was usually ignored. One time, though, he made a suggestion and they decided to use it. Opie looked up to Andy Griffith and asked why they used this idea but never used any of his other ideas. Andy Griffith said, "Because it's the first idea you had that was any damn good."

I know that sounds harsh, but I think they had a great relationship. He was just being honest with him. And the tone of his voce was jocular and not mean. I think he was just trying to help Ronnie grow up.

Posted on Jan 9, 2014 12:38:18 PM PST
N. R. Perez says:
I wholeheartedly agree that this is a sometimes funny, sometimes poignant film and it has a certain charm and wistfulness imbued into it. I especially love your comment "You can almost soak up the era in which the film was made right through the screen, and nestle down comfortably into it." I had never realized it before, but that is EXACTLY what movies like this do to a viewer and perhaps that is the real reason for watching them. It takes the vewer back to a bygone era with all its requisite nostalgia. What a lovely way to spend an afternoon or evening at home!
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