Before you question why I have watched a film entitled Mister Scoutmaster and do not see anywhere on this poster the usual actors and actresses I post about I will tell you: Frances Dee plays Clifton Webb’s wife in it. I do not mind Webb but there would have been no way in hell I would have watched a film with this title with just Webb as the star. But I did find the film to be really cute and funny.
Webb plays a snobby TV show host named Robert Jordan. His show might be getting the ax if one of the major sponsors pulls out. The sponsor is a kid’s cereal company and they want the show to shift towards kids if they are to play their commercials during the program. Robert is not very happy and does not hold hope the sponsors will stay with the show. Robert does not know the first thing about children since him and his wife Helen (Dee) never had any. On his way home he buys a whole bunch of kid’s magazines as some research.
When Robert gets home Helen says that she wants to adopt a kid, she does not want to be alone all the time. Robert sees it as a good idea strictly for research purposes. He tells her they are going out for dinner and he goes looking for a specific suit he has. Helen tells him that she just gave a boy scout a few of his suits for them to sell. He gets all mad and drags Helen to the church where the sale is. There he finds a little boy selling them as once belonging to his father. Robert and the boy get into a pulling match with the jacket before Helen intervenes and pays the kid.
The next day the kid named Mike comes over to give the ten dollars back since it was not his suit to give away in the first place. For a reason I cannot remember Robert heads over to the church where the troop meets. The scoutmaster has quit which he thinks because he was a nervous man and did not know how the handle a bunch of boys. Robert decides to take over the troop because he has only seen three of the boys and they were the good ones. It is obvious from the moment the priest starts talking about all the past scoutmasters in the past year the troop has gone through. When he gets home he sees just why the scoutmasters quit when he puts his hat on and he cannot take it off because the boys put glue in it!
The first time Robert is really put to the test is when he has to go over to one of the boys’ houses so the boy can move up to the next level. A bunch of the boys in the troop come over and the situation gets chaotic pretty fast. One of the boys who is really obnoxious Robert nudges in the leg and the boy freaks out. Robert has had about enough at this point and spills ice cream on the kid’s head. He finds out the kid is his sponsor at the TV studio. Robert is all ready to be fired but when he calls the kid’s father the father tells him to torture the kid as much as possible because he deserves it!
Robert takes the troop on a trip to a camping ground in the woods. Mike shows up late that night all by himself. He is not in their troop but he likes Robert and has been following him around and showing up at his house. Robert lets Mike stay in his tent and sleeping bag and finds he really likes the boy.
Not long after this night Mike runs away and cannot be found. The troop gets together and looks for him. Robert feels awful because he feels it is mostly his fault Mike went missing. As he looks for the boy Robert goes missing in the woods but it is Mike that actually winds up saving him and finding him.
If you ever see the film you will most likely guess the ending and what happens with the characters.
Clifton Webb was very good. I can only take the man in small doses in other films but here I got to see how far his acting could go and I liked him. Webb was sophisticated with his looks, mannerisms, and acting so it was a lot of fun to see him pretty much playing himself but taking him out of that type of environment and sticking him with a bunch of uncooperative wild boys.
Frances Dee was beautiful (geez how many times have I started off a review of her acting this way? I cannot help it she was such a beautiful woman no matter how old she was). Her character was so sweet which provided a balance with Webb’s snobbiness. I loved Dee’s outfits in this film they were very fifties with the skirts and the button down tops. With Frances Dee in a film the story and the film rarely suffers she was so good at any type of character she played.
Mister Scoutmaster is a very cute film. The story was fun as well as the characters. I can relate with trying to get crazy psychotic twelve year old boys to calm down, I have a twelve year old brother and my parents tend to leave him and his friends with me while they go out… thanks a lot mom and dad. As I write this my brother has two of his friends over and it sounds like they are going to bring the house down! Maybe I should go check on them… nah I will most likely wind up getting hurt somehow!!
If you can find Mister Scoutmaster on TCM give the film a try.