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"Mother Carey's Chickens are friendly little sea-birds, who never seem to have a home and are always on the wing. This story is about one of the countless families, who, like these restless birds, move from place to place, always seeking and longing for a settled home," according to the introduction...
In 1898 Newport, Rhode Island, "Mother Carey" is Fay Bainter (as Margaret). Her four friendly "chickens" are Anne Shirley (as Nancy), Ruby Keeler (as Kitty), Jackie Moran (as Gilbert) and Donnie Dunagan (as Peter). While on a drive before their father leaves to join the Spanish-American War, the family finds a charming old mansion and declares it their "dream house." Since nobody seems to wants the house, the rent is low. They move in and fix the place up. The daughters are attracted to handsome schoolteacher James Ellison (as Ralph Thurston). General store owner Walter Brennan (as Ossian Popham) helps the family. All goes relatively well until scheming Margaret Hamilton (as Pauline Fuller) decides she wants to buy the house...
When presented with this film project, Katharine Hepburn bought out her contract and left the studio (RKO). Based on Kate Douglas Wiggin's successful novel and play, this story really should have been done as a "silent" film, preferably with Mary Pickford and director Maurice Tourneur. The play and Ms. Pickford's hit version of the author's "Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm" both appeared in 1917. While nothing special, "Mother Carey's Chickens" is much better than Disney's musical re-make "Summer Magic" (1963). This version might have played better in color, with some more work on the script and with a couple members of the cast.
**** Mother Carey's Chickens (7/29/38) Rowland V. Lee ~ Anne Shirley, Ruby Keeler, James Ellison, Fay Bainter
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