• Dear Brigitte (1966)
    20th Century Fox

    U * US * Colour * 100 mins

  • Dear Brigitte was one of three light-hearted comedies that its star James Stewart made for Fox and was the best of an average bunch in that it featured Glynis Johns as Stewart's wife and anything with Glynis Johns in it is never average; and a charming cameo from Brigitte Bardot.

    Stewart is Robert Leaf, an absent-minded professor teaching English in the Bay Area and living with his family in a reconverted riverboat. Leaf is in his 50s and a family man in his 50s in the 1960s is viewed by filmland as a touch old-fashioned, anti-modern technology, and prone to giving his children names like Pandora and Erasmus (as only an absent-minded professor in his 50s could do according to Mr Movie Executive) who join him for family musical evenings. Robert Leaf is such a man.

    The made in Hollywood not so very subtle irony is that the cello playing Erasmus is tone-deaf, and the even more not very subtle irony is that he is also colour-blind when his father attempts him toward a painting trip. The father, learning of these problems, takes it all very hard (and Stewart does taking it hard in a family way better than anyone). Such taking it hard expertise is further needed and provided when Stewart's character realises that his son is a mathematical genius. This is because from this point on the result of his son's wizardry means he and his son are involved in not very convincing (Why should they be?) scraps with government agents, con men, and university administrators who are interested in Erasmus's talent for picking winning horses (more rib-tickling funny than hold-your-sides funny). Simultaneously, and the whole point of the film behind the damn subterfuge, the professor also helps Erasmus fulfill his dream (and my dream and the dream of thousands of men) by taking him to Paris to meet the most gorgeous woman ever to call herself a woman, Brigitte Bardot.

    B.B. refused to go to Hollywood for backlot approximations; Stewart and co went over to Paris. Bardot insisted her apartment be copied exactly from the original down to the smallest detail. Her scene was done and dusted in just a few hours but Fox were worried about the amount of cleverage she revealed as the film was going to be seen by kids. They had to come back the next day and reshoot with a corsage covering the offending breasts.

    What can one say about Dear Brigitte? Stewart breezed through it as though on auto-pilot, something he did in most of his films from 1960 onwards. B.B. played B.B. better than anyone could play B.B. with the possible exception of Claudia Schiffer.

    It is a sweet movie but is slightly dated even when it was made, for it has the 1950s Fred MacMurray comedies stamped all over it.

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    Main Cast:

  • James Stewart Robert Leaf
  • Fabian Kenneth
  • Glynis Johns Vina
  • Cindy Carol Pandora
  • Billy Mumy [Billy Mumy] Erasmus
  • John Williams Upjohn
  • Ed Wynn Captain
  • Brigitte Bardot

  • Dir Henry Koster
  • Scr Hal Kanter, from the novel Erasmus with Freckles by John Haase

    Paul Page (2007).

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