Movie Review: No, My Darling Daughter

I had an amazing experience while watching a film the other day.  I found it exciting because it made viewing the film an engaging experience, not just a passive one.  You may laugh when I tell you what has inspired these reflections, but I dare you to watch the film and not be similarly engaged.  No, My Darling Daughter (1961) is the first film I have ever seen that kept me guessing as to who would “get the girl” in the end.  Okay, I’m a confessed and unashamed Romantic.  I offer no apologies.

If you click on the link for the title, you’ll notice I directed you to the IMDb and not the TCMDb.  This is because the synopsis on TCM’s page gives the secret of the plot away.  You can read it of you want, but I think it will spoil the experience for you.  I refuse point blank to enable classic film cheaters. ;)

No, My Darling Daughter stars Michael Redgrave and Juliet Mills as father and daughter Sir Matthew and Tansy Carr.

(Let me interject here that I think Tansy is a terribly unusual name.  It borders on odd, actually.  It’s not Pansy, like the flower or someone with no guts, it’s Tansy.  What’s Tansy?  If anyone out there in blogland has an answer, I’d love to hear it.  The name has bugged me ever since I watched the film.)

Anyway – Sir Matthew is a rather inept father who doesn’t quite know what to do with Tansy.  She gets low grades at her expensive private girl’s school and seems to have no idea what to do with herself.  We meet this little family just as Tansy is leaving to go back to school and Sir Matthew is returning from a business trip.  Sir Matthew has decided, without Tansy’s knowledge, that she’s not returning to the school.  She’s off to be “finished” in Paris.  (Those were the days – huh? :) )  Tansy doesn’t want to go, and leaves for school anyway, creating lots of glorious chaos and trouble.

In the mix here are two of the hunkiest guys I’ve ever seen, let alone in the same film: Michael Craig and James Westmoreland (billed as Rad Fulton).  They make for the delicious experience of wondering who Juliet Mills will end up with in the end.  You know how, in most films, either the top billed star gets the girl in the end and/or the romantic rival is a tad on the undesirable side, so there’s never any question of who gets the girl.  Not so here.

Michael Craig plays Thomas Barclay, the son of Sir Matthew’s business partner General Barclay (played by Roger Livesey).  He is also unsure of his purpose in life, but thinks he is far superior to Tansy and her childishness.

James Westmoreland is Cornelius, Tansy’s new-found American friend who has the same zest for living that she does.  Tansy starts spending her days with Cornelius, showing him the sites of London and becoming even better friends with him.  I truly appreciated the genuine, gentle friendship of Tansy and Cornelius – they are not lovers, just terrific pals who are fond of each other.  If you’re lucky enough to have that kind of a friendship with a guy, you’ll know what I mean when I say that it’s one of the best kinds of friendships to have.

Throughout the story, Sir Matthew and General Barclay stick their noses into the love lives of their children and try to sway outcomes.  There’s quite a lot of discussion in the film about meddling old people who should mind their own business.  It’s rather amusing.

I’m not going to tell you any more of the story, because I don’t want to give away the ending.

Juliet Mills is simply adorable as Tansy.  She’s the daughter of John Mills and sister of Hayley. I was reading about how this film was released at the same time as the Hayley Mills smasher Pollyanna, so Juliet got pushed aside.  I think this occurrence is totally unfair.  No offense to Hayley, but Juliet is just as interesting on screen as her little sister – actually I’d vote more so.  It’s sad how little known Juliet was in America before her role on the soap opera Passions. Oh, the infurations of film making!

Both Michael Craig and James Westmoreland are totally swoon-worthy in their roles.  I’m searching out their other films so I can dote on them.  I’m so torn as to which is my favorite over the other.  I think maybe I’ll let them be tied at first place!

Michael Redgrave and Roger Livesey are always enjoyable.  Michael Redgrave is quite a head turner, himself.  He’s quite appealing in Hitchcock’s The Lady Vanishes (1938). Roger Livesey is best known to me for the title role in The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943).

No, My Darling Daughter is tragically not available on DVD, though it’s pretty high on TCM’s “Not on DVD List.”  I couldn’t find it on Netflix, either. *sigh*  It’s a British made film, so the likelihood of it having been released on VHS here in the US isn’t very high.

However, a vintage car buff has posted this accelerated version of the film on YouTube, and you can meet all the characters.  This video is quite funny because it follows the film through all the sequences of a car.

April 14, 2009 Update: Nicole is converted!  Read her terrific review here.



Filed under Film Bloggers, Movie Review

23 responses to “Movie Review: No, My Darling Daughter

  1. Was this on tv recently? How did you get to see it? I’ll kick myself if it was on TCM and I missed it! I adore Michael Redgrave, Roger Livesey & all members of the Mills family!

  2. Yeah, Kate – it played on TCM on March 4 @1.30pm. I’ll send you a copy, if you want. :)

  3. Ooooh! Would you? I’d be Oh-So grateful :)

  4. Of course! Coming right up… :)

  5. This looks like a good film. And 60’s too! Yay.

    I didn’t realize Hayley Mills had an acting sister. Now I know.

    I sent you the Oxford English Dictionary’s entry on “Tansy”. :-)

  6. Hi Raquelle! Thanks so much for the link about Tansy! It describes the plant as having “button-like flowers” which fits right in with Tansy’s nickname in the film- “Button-Face.” It says the plant has a bitter taste. Why on earth would you want your daughter named after a plant that is bitter? Boggles the mind.

    I didn’t know that Hayley had a sister, either. It’s a shame how people kind of get lost in history. I knew you’d be pleased about the 60’s aspect. :)


  7. One of my favorite TV shows when I was little was NANNY AND THE PROFESSOR, starring Juliet Mills as the Nanny. It had a very memorable theme song… I don’t think it reruns much because it wasn’t on as many years as other shows of the same era (i.e. THE BRADY BUNCH) which had more episodes for syndication.

    Total trivia: the little girl on the show, Kim Richards, grew up to be the aunt of Paris Hilton.

    Thanks for a very interesting review!

    Best wishes,

  8. Can’t resist a little more Juliet Mills trivia: she has been married for nearly 20 years to (much younger) actor Maxwell Caulfield (THE COLBYS).

    Best wishes,

  9. Jen

    Awww, I’m a romantic too, perhaps this can be one of those films going on my ‘its winter and cold and therefore i want to snuggle up with a movie’ list :)

  10. Hi, Laura – I’m dying to see Nanny and the Professor after seeing Juliet in No, My Darling Daughter. Maybe it will be released on DVD soon and we can snap it up! I love trivia about famous people, so don’t ever be shy about sharing. :) I saw some photos of Maxwell Caulfield as I was researching Juliet – he’s quite a dish!

    Jen – I’m quite happy to find a kindred spirit! I think this film would be perfect for a winter snuggle. It really gives you a warm, happy feeling after watching it. Perfect for escaping the depressing-ness of winter.


  11. This one sounds great, Casey…and so is your review! Somehow I have missed seeing this film…Tansy is an odd name. But Tansy is something real, tansy is actually perennial plant with yellow flowers with beneficial healing properties–found mostly in Europe and Asia. So it is sort of a flower, like pansy :o) Happy Weekend ((HUGS))

  12. Hi Tracy! – Thanks so much for the Tansy info! It makes much more sense as a name if the plant has healing properties. I’m going to see if I can get some photos, and I’ll update the post when I do.

    Happy Weekend to you, too!


  13. Stefanie

    I stumbled across your site because I was searching for info on No, My Darling Daughter. I absolutely loved that movie, and as you mentioned above the best part of the movie was not knowing what was going to happen in the end. There are few “romantic comedies” that do wait there are none! haha
    Anyway, I was writing to say I found a UK website that has this movie available on DVD, only thing is I don’t know if the site is legit.
    I’m so tempted to buy it because I had problems with my DVR so I don’t have the movie anymore, and one thing I know about TCM is that they don’t really show this type of movie multiple times…For instance, I’ve been waiting YEARS for One for the Book/Voice of the Turtle to come back on tv—another movie that is shamefully not on DVD.

  14. Hi Stefanie! – I’m terribly happy you found my review and that you are as much a fan of the film as I am! I looked at your link and you’re right – it’s a bit cagey. When you click on the catalog items in the sidebar, you get error messages, which is not a good sign. I’ll send the link to one of my classic film pals and ask their opinion. The other snag is that the site doesn’t say what region the disc would be formatted for, and in the UK, they are supposed to be going on Region 2. Region 2 may not play in your DVD player. :(

    I can see exactly what you mean about TCM. I’ve got a whole list of films that I’m waiting for them to replay. Lucky for you, though, One For The Book is playing this month on March 19 @ 4am eastern time. I know this because I did a post on my favorite Ronnie Reagan films. You’re absolutely right – their not-on-DVD status is shameful! :)


  15. Nicole

    I have that movie recorded and was a little hesitate ion watching it but your review has me really interested to see it. :-)

  16. Oh Nicole – you should definitely watch it! It’s hard to find, so you’re quite lucky to have it. I’d love to hear what you think after you watch it. :)

    Thanks for stopping by!

  17. Ohhhhh I just watched this movie and absolutely adored it. Thank you for introducing it to me, otherwise I may have just deleted off my DVR without watching it. I so hope that it comes out on dvd soon because that is a movie I could watch over and over again. It was so delightful and I loved the whole cast especially Michael Redgrave. That was my first Michael Redgrave and I enjoyed him immensely in the film. Once again, thanks for the recommendation!

  18. I wasn’t at all as troubled by the name of “Tansy” as by the name of “Westmoreland”. Never heard of it! Frustrating, not being able to get ahold of the film if it isn’t aired on TCM. I shall put up a note about it, Swedish style.

  19. Nicole – I’m thrilled that you liked it! I think this really is one of those films you can watch again and again. It’s so sweet and heartwarming. Isn’t Michael Redgrave amazing? If you like him in No, My Darling Daughter, you should check out some of his earlier films, especially The Lady Vanishes (1938). It’s an early Hitchcock and has the same quality of his later and more famous offerings.

    Lolita – Westmoreland is an odd one, too, you’re right! I just chalked that one up to British traditional names, but if you actually analyze it, it does start seeming strange. :)

  20. Howard Wilkins

    I found this web site by a strange co-incidence. Yesterday at Leicester Unitarian Fellowship we sang a song to the tune that was used for the theme music of this film. It struck several chords with people so I thought that I would find out what the words to the theme song were. I remember seeing the film at the cinema as a teenager and really enjoyed it

  21. Howard – Hello! Thank you for sharing your story with me! You must have the most amazing church if you get to sing the theme to No My Darling Daughter there. I wish I could come! I agree NMDD is quite an enjoyable film. It makes me so happy to hear that more people enjoy it as I do. Thank you again! :D

  22. Mary

    I love this movie managed to get a copy of it on DVD on ebay. I love the actor Michael Craig and managed to collect some of his movies even read his autobiography he lives in Australia and appeared on a medical soap there, Don’t hear much of him now. As for the other actor James westmoreland never seen him in anything but this. Also love Roger Livesey he was in a really good movie in the forties called ‘I know where i am going’. I am glad to see there are other fans of this movie besides me. Thank you.

  23. Hi Mary,

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting! I’m so glad you had a chance to see this lovely film. It’s a shame that Michael Craig and James Westmoreland didn’t have bigger careers. Both are so likeable and fun to watch. Amazingly enough, James Westmoreland was married to Kim Darby (!) for a short time. Now there’s an interesting match… Completely agree on Roger Livesey. I Know Where I’m Going is quite fun, a rather mysterious romance with some comedic bits mixed in.


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