I stumbled upon "Dear Brigitte" almost by accident, and the names in thecredits -- Jimmy Stewart, Glynis Johns, Ed Wynn, etc. -- kept me watching.I was pleasantly surprised by how charming and intelligent this filmturnedout to be! Stewart plays an English professor whose only son, Erasmus(theadorable Billy Mumy), turns out to be a math whiz. He's also great atpredicting horses, and he happens to be in love with Brigitte Bardot (whomakes a wonderful cameo appearance). The family lives on a houseboat, andtheir teenaged daughter dates Fabian. All of this makes for a veryenjoyable comedy the whole family can watch together -- it may be a bitoutdated (particularly the "high-tech" computer featured in one scene),butthat only adds to its charm. This is a lovable, often overlooked moviethat's definitely worth viewing with the whole family!
I'm sure that the folks who were casting Lost in Space must have seenDear Brigitte and said to themselves, young Billy Mumy would be perfectcasting as the precocious Will Robinson. Dear Brigitte is a film about a professor of literature who lives on aconverted old Mississippi riverboat with his family and the formercaptain of the steamship, Ed Wynn. An almost hippie like existence forthe very Republican James Stewart and his wife Glynis Johns andchildren Cindy Carol and Billy Mumy. Stewart has an obsession about the sciences just taking over colleges,including his own and this fuels an additional obsession into finding atalent that must be hidden in his son. Young Mr. Mumy turns out to beboth color blind and tone deaf, so art and music are out.He turns out to be a mathematical genius though and Billy has anadditional obsession himself, he wants to meet Brigitte Bardot. Nowthat's something the males in the audience can empathize with.I think Dear Brigitte came out just a tad to early. A couple of yearslater with the flower power movement in full bloom, this thing wouldhave really been big box office. Audiences might have really identifiedwith an eccentric professor with his family living on a riverboat.Fabian is also along for the ride as daughter Cindy Carol's boyfriend.He was nearing the end of the line as a teenage heart throb. But I'msure his presence in the film brought more than a few dollars in.John Williams and Jesse White who play a couple of con men do a nicejob and of course we cannot forget the presence of Brigitte Bardotplaying herself.It's a pleasant innocuous little family comedy helped by a very goodcast.
Read the book, "Erasmus With Freckles," and see how it compares to themovie, "Dear Brigitte." While I enjoy anything with James Stewart andhave been a Bill Mumy fan for most of my life, I can honestly say thisis one time when the book shines better than the film. I have noproblem with the performances in the movie, mark you ... I merely don'tlike it when screenwriters take a good book and make a movie out of itthat is very little like the original. The family is bigger andsomewhat goofier ... and the boat (and the Leaf's neighbors) play amuch larger role. I couldn't find Ed Wynn's character anywhere in thenovel. Seems a shame to ruin such a good novel by turning it into thismovie -- the movie's fine, it's just not the story originally told.
Okay, I acknowledge that I am prejudiced. While primarily a right-brain person myself, the so-called whimsy of aNoCal "Pulitzer-Prize winning poet" (?), who lives on an ugly, decrepitdocked river boat, in discovering that his artistically talentless sonhappens to be a mathematical prodigy, is lost in a the growlingmisanthropy of star James Stewart's dithering, hostile performance. The marvelous Billy Mumy, always a charismatic child actor, plays thegifted young Erasmus, and Glynnis Johns shines as the patient mother.The problem? Stewart and Stewart's charmless, utterly selfish father.His original instinct being to hide his child's gifts is bad enough,but I switched the movie off in disgust when he revealed he did notknow (and had no clue) of his elder child (a daughter's) age (she's 18,and he didn't know). Add to that his threatening reporters with aloaded shotgun, plus his ranted lectures about "progress" as being theprovenance of what he calls "the Exploders" and you have a rancidfamily comedy that has aged abominably. My guess: Stewart, a notably ungenerous actor who demanded that theshow center all around him, may have been annoyed by the effortlessscene stealing from the sly, charming, profoundly gifted young Mumy,who made everything look easy and fun. Stewart is upstaged in everyscene by Mumy, and it's my (completely unfounded) guess that he wasunhappy about it. But what do I know? I only have his neurotic,overwrought, and badly miscalculated work to go on.Fabian has nothing to do. Guessing also Stewart may have had somethingto do with this. But again, who knows? Stewart famously was enragedafter the release of the wonderful "Winchester 73" that the young RockHudson, in his few scenes, stole Stewart's thunder: Stewart neverworked with him again.By the time Ms. Bardot shows up, Stewart has had his conversion, butalas, all the same, all is lost. Not a half-shell on Stewart's otherHenry Koster- directed comedy, "Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation", which isstill charming, if oh-so-Sixties, family fun (benefiting as it doeswith a Mancini score, Maureen O'Hara, and a touch more Fabian, plusbetter color and production values).Note: Love narrator Ed Wynn's expository asides to the camera(audience), with the other characters often asking him,Pirandello-like, just who he is talking to?Overall verdict: block out Stewart (which is hard to do), and theothers are just fine. I too often like Stewart, so if you're a fan, doyourself a favor and let this botch go by.
Fairly good comedy featuring an ultra smart little boy who is used byswindlers for their own gain despite the over protectiveness of hisfather.Meanwhile, the boy is scheming to meet the famous French actress while hissister is anguishing over boys and proms. Typical 60'scomedy.