Release dateAugust 2, 1951 (1951-08-02) Based onThe Silver Whistle
by Robert E. MacEnroe WriterRanald MacDougall (screenplay), Gwen Davenport (character), Robert E. McEnroe (play) Film seriesSitting Pretty Film Series CastClifton Webb (Mr.Belvedere), Joanne Dru (Miss Tripp), Hugh Marlowe (Reverend Watson), Zero Mostel (Emmett), Doro Merande (Mrs. Hammer), William H. Lynn (Mr. Beebe) Similar moviesRelated Henry Koster movies
Mr. Belvedere Rings the Bell is a 1951 comedy film, the third and final one starring Clifton Webb as Lynn Belvedere. It follows on from Sitting Pretty (1948) and Mr. Belvedere Goes to College (1949).
Mr. Belvedere is on a lecture tour on the topic "How to be young, though eighty." He wonders if there is any point in living to be eighty himself after overhearing four residents of the Church of John old age home talk about their ailments. He decides to embark on an investigation at the home. When he goes to see Bishop Daniels about gaining entry, he is mistaken for Oliver Erwenter, who had applied for admission, but died at the age of seventy-seven. He does not correct the mistake since only the aged are admitted.
After encountering initial skepticism, he has the residents of the facility feeling younger, aided by youth pills from "Tibet" (actually simply sugar pills he concocts at the local drugstore), much to the disapproval of the well-meaning but staid Rev. Charles Watson, the person in charge of the old age home. Belvedere also helps Harriet Tripp, Watson's assistant, with her romance problem: the reverend does not see that she is in love with him. With the help of Emmett, the lecture tour company's advance man, Belvedere makes preparations for a church bazaar to raise funds for the poverty-stricken place.
Watson soon discovers his newest charge's true identity, but keeps the information to himself after seeing how much good Belvedere has accomplished. However, reporters finally uncover his deception, and the disillusioned senior citizens revert to their cheerless routine. Belvedere manages to convince them that they are only as old as they think they are. Watson also sees the light and proposes to Miss Tripp. His work done, and convinced it is worth his while to live to eighty, Belvedere leaves to resume his lecture tour.
Clifton Webb as Lynn Belvedere (Oliver Erwenter)
Joanne Dru as Miss [Harriet] Tripp
Hugh Marlowe as Rev. Charles Watson
Zero Mostel as Emmett
William H. Lynn as Mr. Beebe
Doro Merande as Mrs. Hammer
Frances Brandt as Miss Hoadley
Kathleen Comegys as Mrs. Sampler
Jane Marbury as Mrs. Gross
Harry Hines as Mr. [R. B.] Cherry
Warren Stevens as Reporter
Harry Antrim as Bishop Daniels (uncredited)
Hugh Beaumont as Policeman (uncredited)
Thomas Browne Henry as Father Shea (uncredited)
Lynn, Merande, Brandt, Comegys and Marbury all reprised their roles from the Broadway play.
The film was based on the play The Silver Whistle by Robert E. MacEnroe. Although the plot of the film resembles that of the play, Belvedere was not a character in the play. The leading character was a hobo named Oliver Erwenter, played by José Ferrer. The Silver Whistle, with all of its original characters, was telecast in 1959 on Playhouse 90, in which Eddie Albert played the role of Erwenter.
Bosley Crowther, critic for The New York Times, called the film "a poorly conceived alteration of "The Silver Whistle'". The play's protagonist, a "cheerful do-gooder," was replaced by Lynn Belvedere, a substitution that Crowther considered a poor fit, writing "it is hard to swallow Mr. Belvedere in such an unlikely place, and we find his airy patronage of the oldsters in decidedly questionable taste." However, he did concede that "Mr. Webb plays the contradictory role with his usual arrogance and flourishes which occasionally are moderately droll" and many of the supporting cast "acquit themselves admirably."