Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Opie Partridge

TCM aired their new documentary on Ron Howard's 50 years in film last night. It focused mostly on his career as a director, only touching briefly on how he first got into acting and ow a few things in his career as a child actor helped him when he later became a director. As a result, the documentary overlooked fine movies like The Courtship of Eddie's Father.

Ron Howard plays Eddie, a young kid who has just lost his mother. His father (Glenn Ford), now being a widower, is trying to raise the kid alone, while Eddie is trying to find a new wife for Dad (and, preferably, a new mother). Eddie has, shall we say, interesting taste: the first woman he picks up is Stella Stevens, even though she's too young for Glenn Ford, and is much more suitable for Jerry Van Dyke, a disk jockey working at the radio network where Ford is a producer. Along the way, Ford meets Dina Merrill, but Eddie hates her. Instead, he begins to like the next-door neighbor, a nurse played by Shirley Jones, thinking that she is a better fit for his father....

The Courtship of Eddie's Father is a pretty fine family movie. It deals with difficult topics lovingly, sensitively, and realistically. Glenn Ford is as good and sturdy as ever. Ford isn't remembered as one of the all-time greats in Hollywood, but he was more than competent, and always makes the movies he's in worth watching. Ford was in his mid-40s by the time he made this movie, and now well-suited to playing more fatherly figures. Howard is fine here; he was a good child actor and, like Ford, is more than suitable for the part. Shirley Jones was relatively young here, and not bad-looking. I have no idea how she could have afforded the apartment she's in on a nurse's salary, and the film never discusses that. Just overlook it yourself and enjoy the budding love story between Ford and Jones.

The Courtship of Eddie's Father is a good movie. To be honest, it's nothing special, but not every movie has to be. It's safe, but not trite, family entertainment, on a par with Yours, Mine, and Ours. It's available on DVD, too.

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