A couple of weeks ago I reviewed “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” and said at the time that it was Camera Girl’s favorite movie. Well, her second favorite movie is “Room for One More.” And years ago, as a husband, this was a cause for concern because it gave her ideas about fostering orphan children. Now I have great respect for folks who bring homeless children into their lives. It’s an enormous accomplishment. But we were up to our elbows in family and I just thought it was too much for me!
Nevertheless, it is a very appealing movie and well worth reviewing. The plot revolves around George and Anna Rose (played by real life husband and wife Cary Grant and Betsy Drake). The Roses have three children, Teenie and Tim and their sister Trot. Anna lost her fourth child at birth and has wanted to adopt. When she goes to the orphanage the Director Miss Kenyon puts in a strong pitch to foster an older child rather than adopt an infant. And being a good-hearted woman, she agrees to take one of their least adoptable children, Jane. She’s an adolescent who’s been abused and has grown surly and embittered.
George is dead set against the fostering even as a two-week trial and his antagonism doesn’t smooth Jane’s arrival. There are a number of incidents that flare into crises when Jane’s easily offended feelings are triggered into anger by innocent remarks. But Anna goes above and beyond to sooth Jane and make her feel welcome and loved. At the end of two weeks Jane has learned to love her new home and the whole family is plunged into sadness when Miss Kenyon arrives to pick up Jane. As Jane says her sad but polite good byes Miss Kenyon asks where Jane’s suitcase is and the camera cuts to George heading up the stairs to return Jane’s suitcase to her now permanent room.
Next Anna decides to adopt another problem child. This time the problem is an adolescent boy named Jimmy John. He has braces on his legs from polio and he has been back and forth between hospitals so often that he hasn’t even learned how to read. Jimmy John is even more of a challenge than Jane. He has a bad temper and proceeds to sucker punch Trot while the family is driving to a vacation at the beach. Other incidents include Jimmy John trying to ride Tim’s bicycle. But after falling he becomes so frustrated that he smashes the back wheel completely with his heavy steel brace. By the end of the vacation Anna wants to extend Jimmy John’s stay with her family but George insists that the four other children “vote” on his fate. The children write down their votes and after seeing that all four say, “leave” Tim gives the votes to Jimmy John to read. But Jimmy John sadly admits he can’t read. Overwhelmed by that revelation Tim tells Jimmy John that the decision was unanimous for him to stay.
The rest of the movie chronicles the evolving happiness of Jane and Jimmy John as members of the family. Jimmy John battles mightily against his physical disabilities to become a boy scout and at the end of the movie he achieves his ambition to be an Eagle Scout. Jane wants badly to go to the school formal dance but the family hasn’t the money for a formal dress until all the children tell their parents to return the Christmas gifts they just received to pay for the dress. But when the night of dance arrives Jane’s date is “sick.” Actually, it’s known that his mother has ordered him not to go because she considers Jane’s background too questionable. George responds by going to the boy’s house and appeals to the parents to think of the broken heart of a young girl. The father orders his son to go to the dance and shouts at his wife to shut up.
The movie ends with George and Anna granted a night of blessed solitude while the children are staying with friends.
As I’m sure you can tell from my description this is a wildly sentimental movie. But if this doesn’t terminally violate the viewer’s notion of what a movie consists of, then it is also an entertaining feel-good movie. Seeing good intentioned adults helping neglected and troubled children and reclaiming them from loneliness is pretty bracing stuff, especially if it’s done with humor and at least a little indication that problems will exist.
Well, if it’s good enough for Camera Girl then I’ll recommend it for good-hearted women and their much suffering husbands. Definitely a good husband-wife date movie.