Sitting Pretty (1948 film)

Sitting Pretty

theatrical release poster
Directed by Walter Lang
Produced by Samuel G. Engel
Screenplay by F. Hugh Herbert
Based on Belvedere
1947 novel
by Gwen Davenport
Starring Robert Young
Maureen O'Hara
Clifton Webb
Music by Alfred Newman
Cinematography Norbert Brodine
Edited by Harmon Jones
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • March 10, 1948 (1948-03-10)
Running time
83 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $3,550,000 (US rentals)[1]

Sitting Pretty is a 1948 American comedy film which tells the story of a family who hires a man, Lynn Belvedere, with a mysterious past to babysit their children. It stars Robert Young, Maureen O'Hara and Clifton Webb. The movie was adapted by F. Hugh Herbert from the comic novel Belvedere (1947) by Gwen Davenport. It was directed by Walter Lang.[2]

The character of Belvedere proved so popular, Webb reprised his role in two more movies: Mr. Belvedere Goes to College (1949) and Mr. Belvedere Rings the Bell (1951).


Lawyer Harry (Robert Young) and his wife Tacey King (Maureen O'Hara) have trouble retaining a nanny for their three young rambunctious boys. When the latest in a string of servants quits, Tacey advertises and hires Lynn Belvedere sight unseen, only to find out that Lynn is a dapper older man (Clifton Webb), one with many skills and achievements. Despite their misgivings (and Belvedere's declaration that he detests children), the Kings reluctantly agree to a trial period. Belvedere quickly wins over the kids, although his superior attitude annoys Harry.

When Harry has to go away on a business trip, Tacey agrees to take the baby and sleep over each night at the home of their friends, fellow lawyer Bill Philby (John Russell) and his wife Edna (Louise Allbritton), just to squelch any possibility of scandal in their suburban community of Hummingbird Hill. Late that night, however, one of the boys becomes sick. Tacey rushes over. It turns out to be just a stomach ache, but nosy neighbor Clarence Appleton (Richard Haydn) notices the lights on and comes over to investigate. He starts spreading scandalous rumors linking Belvedere and Tacey romantically. The gossip eventually reaches Horatio J. Hammond (Ed Begley), Harry's boss. When Harry returns triumphant from his trip, Hammond tells him that Tacey is endangering the law firm's reputation. Though Harry does not believe the stories, he still thinks it would be best if Belvedere found other employment, but is persuaded by his wife and children to change his mind.

Later, Tacey and Edna attend a night lecture. Afterward, they go for a snack in a fancy restaurant. There they encounter Belvedere on his day off. Belvedere invites Tacey to dance. They are spotted dancing cheek to cheek by Appleton and his equally inquisitive mother, and the malicious rumors start up again. This time, Harry is not so understanding. Insulted, Tacey quarrels with him and leaves for her parents.

Then, Belvedere's novel (described as "A Screaming Satire on suburban manners and morals") is published and becomes a national bestseller. It contains thinly veiled accounts of the unseemly behavior of Hummingbird Hill's residents, upsetting everyone. Tacey rushes home and is reconciled with her husband. Hammond fires Harry, and Bill too when he comes to defense of his friend. He decides to sue Belvedere, who is pleased, as he expects the action to increase already skyrocketing sales of his book. He hires Harry and Bill to defend him, then reveals the source of much of his information: Appleton. The informant flees, with Hammond and others in hot pursuit. Despite his new fame, Belvedere agrees to keep his job, as the novel is only the first volume of a trilogy.



Photographer Loomis Dean visited the set to photograph the filming for Life magazine and photographed Webb together with then still unknown actresses Laurette Luez and Marilyn Monroe, who do not appear in the film.[3]

This is one of few films Webb made where he dances. Prior to 1944, he was an accomplished Broadway star, known for his dancing, singing and comedy.[4]


Bosley Crowther wrote in his New York Times review that while "The screen plays from Mr. Herbert are not conspicuous for their tax upon the brain", "Light in substance but solid in humor, this material is handled dexterously by all who come anywhere near it—and especially, as we say, by Mr. Webb."[5] He also found Maureen O'Hara and Robert Young "delightfully clever".[5]



A radio adaptation was presented by Lux Radio Theater on February 14, 1949. The film also inspired a television series, Mr. Belvedere, starring Christopher Hewett, which first aired in 1985.


  1. Staff (January 5, 1949) "Top Grossers of 1948", Variety p.46
  2. "Sitting Pretty". FilmAffinity. Retrieved 11 January 2016.
  3. Mcgue, Kevin (September 18, 2010). "Sitting Pretty (1948) Review". A Life At The Movies. Retrieved 2014-11-10.
  4. Webb, Clifton and Smith, David L, Sitting Pretty: the life and times of Clifton Webb. University Press of Miss., 2011, pg 172.
  5. 1 2 Bosley Crowther (March 11, 1948). "Clifton Webb Plays Baby Expert in 'Sitting Pretty,' Fox Film Now at Roxy Theatre". The New York Times.
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