The story of a dad and a lad and their divergent views on what constitutes desirable stepmotherhood, the production is richly mounted, wittily written and engagingly played by an expert, spirited and attractive cast.
In adapting the novel by Mark Toby, John Gay has penned an aware, clever and generally well-constructed scenario. Glenn Ford portrays a widower who, in rearing his precocious six-and-a-half-year-old son (Ronny Howard) must, in the course of his romantic pursuits, take into account the future maternal preferences of the boy, whose comic-book-eye-view of candidate wives is inclined to judge statistically on the basis of bustlines and eyesockets.
Ford creates a warm, likeable personality and is especially smooth in his reaction takes in scenes with his charge.
Never any question about Shirley Jones’ credentials as the kind of woman any red-blooded American type would love to call mommy, bustline notwithstanding. Dina Merrill is an attractive loser. Stella Stevens comes on like gangbusters in her enactment of a brainy but inhibited doll from Montana. It’s a sizzling comedy performance of a kook.
Vincente Minnelli’s direction tends toward melodramatic heaviness in some of the early ‘serious’ going and some exaggeration in several comic passages, but overall he has managed well enough, coaxing some bright performances from his cast.