The Girl Next Door


1h 32m 1953

Brief Synopsis

Stage-and-night club star Jeannie Laird (June Haver) buys her first home, and everyone who is anyone comes to her first garden party only to be blinded by smoke from next door. Jeannie charges next door to bawl out her new neighbor and meets comic-strip artist Bill Carter (Dan Dailey). Bill has devoted himself to his strip, and raising his ten-year-old son Joe (Billy Gray) since the death of his wife. Joe bases his strip on the everyday happenings of he and his son and is proud of keeping it scrupulously honest. When Jeannie and Bill fall in love, young Joe is hurt, especially when Bill starts using a lot of the father-son time to be with Jeannie. Bill cancels a father-son trip to Canada, and Joe decides to write a letter to Bill's syndicate pointing out that the current plot line of the script being set in Canada isn't honest, since they didn't go.

Film Details

Also Known As
Father Does a Strip
Release Date
Jun 1953
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 13 May 1953
Production Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 32m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8,246ft (10 reels)

Synopsis

After chorus girl Jeannie Laird fills in for the lead of a musical revue, she becomes a major star and begins a whirlwind tour of Europe. Upon her return to New York, Jeannie is greeted by her best friend, Rosie Green, and business manager, Reed Appleton. Jeannie is looking forward to relaxing in the quaint, old-fashioned home that she asked Reed to buy for her, and is dismayed by the modern, gadget-filled house he has purchased. Jeannie makes the best of it, however, and throws a party to celebrate her homecoming. Her guests are bewildered though, when they are bombarded by pigeons and clouds of barbecue smoke coming from the backyard of the next-door neighbors. Jeannie storms over and yells at the occupants, widower Bill Carter and his young son Joe, then apologizes for her abrupt behavior. Jeannie and the easy-going Bill are immediately attracted to each other, much to the disgust of Joe, who mistrusts women and is annoyed when Jeannie comments on how well the two "men" cope on their own. The next morning, Bill jumps the wall separating their backyards and visits Jeannie during a rehearsal. He tells her that he draws a newspaper comic strip about his life with Joe and the other neighbors, and would like to include her. Jeannie is flattered and amused that Bill has drawn her as a "jet-propelled fairy" because of her energy and devotion to work. Soon after, Jeannie joins Bill and Joe for dinner, and Joe deliberately lets slip the Carters' motto: "Women are fine but not in the home." Later, despite Joe's reluctance, Bill takes him to the nightclub where Jeannie is performing and imagines himself dancing with her. Disturbed by how quickly he is falling in love with Jeannie, Bill impulsively tells Joe that they will be leaving the next morning for a long-planned camping trip in the Canadian woods. Later that same night, however, Bill shares a passionate kiss with Jeannie, and the next morning, lies to Joe, telling him that they cannot go camping because he is working on a syndication deal for the comic strip. Distraught, Joe insists that they must go, as Bill has already written in the strip that they will be vacationing, and everything in "their" strip must be the truth. Bill ignores his son's concerns, however, and continues to romance Jeannie while Reed arranges for the syndication. Feeling betrayed after learning that Bill has been publishing strips about their supposed camping trip, Joe has a nightmare about their trip being interrupted by Jeannie, who swoops down on a broomstick to lure Bill away. Joe discusses the situation with his friend Kitty, who advises him to expose Bill's duplicity, as it will get worse if it is not stopped. Joe then writes a letter to Bill's boss telling him that Bill has been lying in his strip, but after he deposits the letter in a mailbox, Joe changes his mind and attempts to dismantle the box in order to retrieve the letter. Meanwhile, Bill, out on a date with Jeannie, proposes to her and she gladly accepts. When they return home, however, policeman O'Toole tells them that Joe has been arrested for vandalizing the mailbox and takes them to the police station. There, Joe tearfully accuses Bill of dishonesty and yells at Jeannie that he hates her for coming between him and his father. Bill grimly escorts Joe and Jeannie home, and in a whispered conversation, tells Jeannie that he is going to inform Joe of their engagement. When Bill tries to tell Joe, however, Jeannie interrupts and states that he cannot force the boy to like her. The couple quarrels about whether they should marry despite Joe's disapproval, and Jeannie angrily departs. Later, Kitty and Joe are fishing, and when he informs her about Bill and Jeannie's breakup, Kitty tells Joe that he should stop interfering because his father should be married. To illustrate her point, Kitty reminds Joe of the story of Noah and the ark, in which the animals are boarded two by two, and tells him that "kids are extra" to adults. Back at Jeannie's house, she announces her intention to move, but Reed and Rosie, who know that she is still in love with Bill, ask her to throw them a party, for they have just eloped. Jeannie agrees, although she is disappointed when the loud music does not lure Bill out of his house. Bill does hear the music, however, and is about to leave when Joe insists on playing a round of their favorite game, "drawades," in which one player draws a story for the other. Joe draws the story of Noah, who refuses to allow a father monkey to board with his little boy monkey until they are joined by a lady monkey. Realizing that he has Joe's blessing, Bill dashes over to Jeannie's patio, where the couple joyfully dances together while Kitty and Joe look on with approval.

Film Details

Also Known As
Father Does a Strip
Release Date
Jun 1953
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 13 May 1953
Production Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 32m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8,246ft (10 reels)

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The working title of this film was Father Does a Strip. The onscreen animation credit reads: "Animation sequences by UPA United Productions of America." In the late 1950s, the company changed its name to UPA Pictures, Inc. As noted by contemporary news items, Betty Grable was originally set to star in the picture but refused the role and was subsequently suspended by Twentieth Century-Fox. According to a May 1951 Hollywood Reporter news item, Grable turned down the part because she wanted more time off between making the two pictures a year stipulated in her contract with the studio.
       Modern sources report that it was the first time in Grable's twelve years with Twentieth Century-Fox that she was placed on suspension. August and October 1951 Hollywood Reporter news item announced that Gloria De Haven and Alan Mowbray had been included in the cast, but they do not appear in the completed picture. According to a November 14, 1951 Hollywood Reporter news item, Dorothy Dandridge was to appear in a nightclub sequence with Benny Carter and His Orchestra, but they also do not appear in the final film. Hollywood Reporter news items include pianist John Scott, Dick Winslow, Kenny Williams and Joyce Bryant in the cast, but their appearance in the released picture has not been confirmed. Although a October 4, 1951 Hollywood Reporter news item stated that Michael Kidd had been signed to stage the film's musical numbers, only Richard Barstow receives onscreen credit as the choreographer. Kidd's contribution to the completed film, if any, has not been confirmed.
       Hollywood Reporter news items noted that production was interrupted several times to allow Dan Dailey to film What Price Glory (see below) and June Haver to recover her health. According to a modern source, Haver was injured when she fell off a table during a dance sequence and was unable to work for eight months. A June 1954 Los Angeles Mirror article reported that the delays in production added $350,000 to the film's budget. The Girl Next Door marked the last screen appearance of Haver (1926-2005), who, in early February 1953, entered the Sisters of Charity Convent in Kansas. Haver had long professed a desire to become a nun, but her fragile health forced her to leave the convent in late September 1953. Although contemporary sources indicate that Haver contemplated returning to show business, she retired upon her June 1954 marriage to actor Fred MacMurray.