June 16, 2011

Where Will We Be Next Year?


Steve tagged me on the trivia question "what was Mr. Belvedere's full name" because one of my songs references the TV show. I hadn't done a whole lot of thinking about Mr. Belvedere in quite some time, and I don't know all that much about the TV program, but I did know the answer (Lynn Aloysius Belvedere) because I'd read the book and it stuck with me.

The book's called Belvedere, and it's by Gwen Davenport. Most people, I reckon, don't even realize this show was based on a book. I'm not a huge fan of the TV show, but the book is really pretty great. The book's Mr. Belvedere, like the TV Mr. Belvedere but a lot nastier, more arrogant, and more obnoxious, is a novelist who goes undercover as a babysitter to gain first hand experience for a novel he is planning to write, meant as an indictment of the modern world and its gossiping, petty-minded, degenerate inhabitants. Slight vestiges of this less kind, less gentle, more misanthropic Mr. Belvedere can be found in the portrayal by TV's Christopher Hewett, but he's really a shadow of his former self. Anyway, hijinks, as you might imagine, ensue. It echoes Wodehouse and I've also always wondered whether it might not even have influenced A Confederacy of Dunces: the two books are quite similar thematically and stylistically.

They made a few Mr. Belvedere movies in the late 40s, and they're a lot of fun too. Here's a clip from Mr. Belvedere Goes to College that should give you the general idea:

All this Belvedere-ing made me want to track down a copy, as it's been ages since I've read it, and I got frightened by the $400 copy listed on Amazon. Abe Books to the rescue.

Finally, I got a kick out of the fact that Mr. Belvedere (the TV show, along with Jeeves & Wooster, Family Affair, and Magnum PI) is profiled on the website of the Junior Ganymede Club Butlers Guild.

Posted by Dr. Frank at June 16, 2011 11:47 PM | TrackBack