Blondie and Dagwood are about to celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary but this happy occasion is marred when the bumbling Dagwood gets himself involved in a scheme that is promising financial ruin for the Bumstead family. Camping on the porch of the Poor House would become the most-used prevalent plot line in the 27 series-films that followed. It was also an issue in the comic-strip for about a year after its inception when it was basically a continuity strip but, aside from Dagwood's inability to coax a pay-raise from Mr. Dithers over the years, the financial status of the family was seldom an issue when the format switched to a gag-a-day strip. Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
The movie underwent several changes in cast and crew. Aurania Rouverol (of the Andy Hardy series) was signed to adapt the comic strip, with Gloria Blondell to star and 'Sam Marx (I)' to produce. Then 'Stuart Erwin (I)' and Una Merkel were to star in the film. Finally, Shirley Deane was cast as Blondie, but was replaced by Penny Singleton (who bleached her hair blonde for the role) when she became ill. See more »
BLONDIE (Columbia, 1938), directed by Frank R. Strayer, introduces Chic Young's famous comic strip characters, the Bumsteads, to the silver screen in the persona of Penny Singleton as Blondie; Arthur Lake as Dagwood Bumstead; Larry Simms as Baby Dumpling; and Jonathan Hale as Mr. J.C. Dithers.
In this series opener, Blondie, Dagwood and their four-year-old son they call Baby Dumpling, along with their dog, Daisy, live in a simple community going through their daily routines. Though simple enough, a chain of unfortunate events soon come one after the other at the time of Blondie and Dagwood's fifth wedding anniversary. Blondie starts the show by planning a surprise anniversary party and presenting Dagwood with the house of brand new furniture. While Dagwood is trying to impress his boss, Mr. Dithers, in trying to contact a very important client for the firm by waiting for him in the hotel lobby where he is staying, Dagwood befriends a middle-aged gentleman (Gene Lockhart) in trying to fix a broken down vacuum cleaner. Coming up to this man's room, Dagwood is introduced to the man he calls C.P., and his daughter, Elsie (Ann Doran), unaware that this is the man Dagwood must contact for the firm. Problems ensue when Blondie suspects Dagwood is having a secret rendezvous with an Elsie Watson, and mistakes CP's daughter to be that girl, considering Dagwood was seen with Elsie at the hotel by Blondie's former sweetheart, Chester Franey (Gordon Oliver), who shows up at the Bumsteads anniversary party, telling Blondie overawing, and turning the gathering, which includes Blondie's mother (Kathleen Lockhart), and sister, Dot (Dorothy Moore), into a World War battle. But poor Dagwood must get CP and his daughter to come to his house to straighten out everything. And more is yet to come before the movie comes to a close in a tight 68 minutes. And yes, Dagwood gets fired for the first of many times on screen by Dithers.
Setting the pattern in future film installments is Blondie getting jealous when she believes Dagwood is tangled with another woman; Dagwood running out of the house and running over the postman in order to catch his morning bus for work; and Alvin Fuddow (Danny Mummert), Baby Dumpling's "genius" friend, getting his chance to show off his smartness, etc. Supporting the cast are Irving Bacon as Mr. Beasley, the postman, the surname later changed to Crum in future installments); Fay Helm as Alvin's mother; Ian Wolfe as the court judge, along with several other character actors. And let's not forget Daisy, the Bumstead dog, who is always the scene stealer. Fortunately, American Movie Classics, which began showing BLONDIE in August 1996, has restored its original opening and closing titles, starting with the Columbia logo, and did away with the tag-on opening and ending with the King Features logo and a 1960s-like sing along theme by unknown vocalists that accompanied the movie when distributed to local television some 30 years ago. BLONDIE is an enjoyable entry that produced 27 more movie episodes, ending with 1950s BEWARE OF BLONDIE. One particular thing about the BLONDIE series is that the central characters are played by the same actors throughout the entire series. And no one can play Blondie and Dagwood better than Penny Singleton and Arthur Lake. Sequel: BLONDIE MEETS THE BOSS (1939) (***)
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