Larry is engaged to Lisbeth Blair but he becomes attentive to Gail, a singer, and is injured in an accident in her apartment. He is slowly going blind and decides that he shouldn't marry ...
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Larry is engaged to Lisbeth Blair but he becomes attentive to Gail, a singer, and is injured in an accident in her apartment. He is slowly going blind and decides that he shouldn't marry Lisbeth. A surgeon restores his sight and he and Lisbeth reconcile to the strains of "My Old Kentucky Home" sung by the Hall Johnson Choir. Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
"Happy Darkies" singing the title song over and over doesn't reflect the reality of what was going on in this country in 1938, and with an aging matriarch (Clara Blandick) telling the Hall Johnson choir that they are as lazy as singing as they are at doing hard work shows off an indication that screenwriters had little, if no sensitivity, to the superb artistry that this choir was providing. Blandick, one year away from playing the stern but lovable Auntie Em in "The Wizard of Oz", was only 58 when she played this role, but her character seems about 20 years older which means she's too young to have been more than a tot during the civil war, so an aging Scarlet O'Hara she isn't. Yet, she's fabulously funny as a feisty old broad who storms into board meetings of her plantation's main office, waving her cane and threatening board members with pummeling if she doesn't get her way. She's also very soft at times, at one point being very sympathetic to ward Evelyn Venable whom she's basically taken care of all her life and been determined to marry off to her real grandson (Grant Richards), a playboy off in New York sewing his wild oatmeal.
Richards is ordered back home to take over control of the plantation and the family business just in time for Blairstown's centennial. Granny Blair gives a nice description of the family history, comparing her late husband's love of life to her grandson's, so she isn't just some caterwauling old biddy trying to stir up trouble and interfere in everybody else's business. Knowing that she's on the verge of losing Richards to Venable, New York socialite Bernadene Hayes takes poison which Richards grabs, splashing in his eyes, and causing potential blindness. It's up to Granny Blair to get true lovers Venable and Richards back together, but when Venable's younger sister (Margaret Marquis) decides to run off with Hayes' older brother (Cornelius Keefe), it threatens to ruin what Granny believes is the course of true love to be.
Alternately an old southern wive's tale and intriguing family soap opera, this Monogram film is pretty enjoyable in spite of its visions of a South that had died a long time ago and was being modernized in spite of some serious remaining social issues. Where its strength lies is in the preservation of certain old traditions that involve family loyalty and basic human kindness. Blandick's treating of her servants may seem a bit harsh at times and will certainly cause some viewers to be quite offended. At least the writers allowed the adorable little black servant boy to be able to read and write and have an integrity and loyalty in spite of the cruelties of history. The mixture of melodrama, comedy and music (beautifully performed by the legendary Johnson Hall choir) come together for a film that can best be described as Hollywood's delusion that things had remained the same for the better. Fortunately, history has improved, if not perfected, the stereotypes this film persists in showing, so this comes off as basically a history lesson in how things needed to change in spite of the filmmaker's visions of what had not been in decades.
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