To Dorothy a Son

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To Dorothy a Son
"To Dorothy, a Son" (1956).jpg
U.S. half sheet poster
Directed by Muriel Box
Written by Peter Rogers
Based on To Dorothy, a Son by Roger MacDougall
Produced byPeter Rogers
Ben Schrift
Starring Shelley Winters
John Gregson
Peggy Cummins
Wilfrid Hyde-White
Cinematography Ernest Steward
H. A. R. Thomson
Edited by Alfred Roome
Music by Lambert Williamson
Welbeck Films
Distributed by Independent Film Distributors
Release date
29 November 1954
Running time
81 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
Box office£104,557 (UK) [1]

To Dorothy a Son is a black and white 1954 British gentle comedy film in the form of a farce directed by Muriel Box [2] and starring Shelley Winters, John Gregson and Peggy Cummins. [3] Known in the U.S. as Cash on Delivery, it is based on the 1950 play To Dorothy, a Son by Roger MacDougall which had enjoyed a lengthy run in the West End. It was shot at Elstree Studios near London with sets designed by the art director George Provis. It was distributed in America by RKO Pictures in January 1956. [4]



Tony Rapallo, a composer, is married (or so he thinks) and his wife Dorothy is pregnant and expecting their child. All is thrown into confusion when his first wife Myrtle appears from America claiming that they are still married. However, her motivation is not to get Tony back, but to ensure she is the recipient of a $2 million inheritance from her New Yorker uncle, Uncle Joe. This will states that if a son is born to Tony before 9 am on a certain day then the son will inherit the money, if not then Myrtle inherits all. Myrtle therefore hopes the birth will be after 9 am.

It gets more complicated when the lawyer explains Tony and Myrtle were never legally married in the first place because they were married in Tonga and although they thought they had been there 7 days they had only been six due to the International Date Line and therefore fell short of the minimum stay before marriage was permitted.

When 9 am passes she celebrates but Tony is more concerned about the baby. However, he suddenly realises the will meant 9 am New York time: five hours more. With 15 minutes to go and Myrtle in tow, a baby starts to cry. After brief celebration it seems it is a girl so Myrtle still gets the money, but it is twins and the second child born with seconds to go is a boy. Tony wants to be generous and offers Myrtle half thge money which she accepts. When she calls her boyfriend he says it is 10am not 9am because they are on Summer Time. So Myrtle is entitled to all the money., She decides to give Tony half.


Critical reception

TV Guide described the film as "a time-zone comedy, with Winters leading a British cast to give the film US appeal...None of it is terribly interesting" ; [5] whereas The New York Times wrote, "BELIEVE it or not, the running time of a stork determines the heir or heiress to $2,000,000 in Cash on Delivery, a bright, British farce that was fun on delivery at the Little Carnegie yesterday...Shelley Winters, as Myrtle, is in one of those made-to-order roles. John Gregson, as Tony, and Peggy Cummins, as Dorothy, are fine. And Mona Washbourne makes a delightfully tart nurse. Deliver yourself to the Little Carnegie. You'll have a good time." [6]

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  1. Vincent Porter, 'The Robert Clark Account', Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, Vol 20 No 4, 2000 p 504
  2. "Shooting on location a scene for 'To Dorothy, A Son' (including Ernest Steward; Muriel Box and Barbara Wainwright) - National Portrait Gallery". Retrieved 19 February 2023.
  3. "To Dorothy, A Son (1954)". BFI. Archived from the original on 12 July 2012.
  4. "Cash on Delivery: Detail View". American Film Institute. Retrieved 2 June 2014.
  5. "Cash On Delivery".
  6. "Movie Reviews". 26 January 2020. Retrieved 28 January 2020 via