My introduction to a forgotten sitcom film series....and not a bad one....
Remember how it used to be keep up with the Joneses? Then, it became surpass the Jones. Recent wags have described the change in today's society to "Stab the Joneses in the back so they don't surpass you after you've already surpassed them." In a series of light quick moving comedies, veteran actor Jed Prouty played the patriarch of the Jones family, one it didn't take a lot of effort to surpass.
While it would have been nice to have started from the very beginning (a very good place to start), I actually started in what would have been the equivalent of season 3 in this 20th Century Fox comedy programmer series that lasted all of four years, starring the veteran character actor Jed Prouty and the original "Ma Hardy" (Spring Byington) and focusing on their lives in their small town. It all starts here when Grandma (Florence Roberts) refuses to sell her bonds to a bunch of Wall Street upstarts who end up trying to fleece the entire town in an apparent oil scam. Prouty is overheard on the phone giving a stock tip and before you can say, "Oklahoma Crude", the entire town is investing. By some miracle, the stock prices begin to rise from $2 a share to $5, and finally $10. But all that gushes out of the apparent oil site is water and mud, and when the townsfolk find out, they blame Prouty for hoodwinking them, not realizing that he was the initial sucker who did not get an even break.
Not wise like Lewis Stone's Judge Hardy, not rubber-legged like Leon Errol's henpecked husband from his series of shorts and certainly not slow burning like Edgar Kennedy, Jed Prouty is probably the most "regular" of series dads. Shirley Deane is the young heroine who is sidetracked from her fiancée, Russell Gleason, by the presence of one of the con-artists. Byington, an "A" list character actress, really has little to do, but Billy Mahan as the youngest of the Jones kids and Ms. Roberts as grandma are absolute scene-stealers. There's a terrific action sequence involving jalopy driving son Kenneth Howell trying to race a speeding train across the tracks, as well as many funny moments with precocious Mahan (one in particular involving a mask) and feisty Roberts who delays the signing of documents between Prouty and the conmen in a very humorous way.
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