A book salesman sells Blondie Bumstead a set of books on child training because he has convinced her that Baby Dumplin is a child prodigy. Meanwhile, J.C. Dithers, boss of Blondie's husband, Dagwood Bumstead, rips Dagwood for altering the plans on an apartment building the construction firm is building for Abner Cartwright and, to keep his job, Dagwood must get Cartwright to sign off on the changes - the latter refuses in order to escape from an unfavorable contract. Baby Dumpling, the genius, is registered at school and Daisy, accompanying him, is picked up by the dog-catcher on the way back home and taken to the pound. Daisy is adopted by Melinda Mason, the crippled daughter of one of the town's wealthiest men. Baby Dumpling looks everywhere and can not find Daisy, and plays hooky from school the next day. Immediately, Blondie and Dagwood suspect kidnapping, and Dagwood learns that Melinda, also missing, was last seen playing with a little boy and a dog. Dagwood promptly heads for ... Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
The Blondie films were absolute classics of American comedy, and I hope that one day they will receive their due recognition. The plots of the Blondie films were constructed with the greatest of care, and were complex and always involved more than one story line going on at once in each episode of the series. Certain continuous threads of plot extended through each episode (there were 28 episodes in total) and these threads could be picked up at any time and carried forward, to enormous comic effect. Sometimes, as in Episode Three, Dagwood's office environment does not appear at all. Wonderful characters are sometimes created for a single episode, such as the fabulous character played by Gene Lockhart in Episode One, and then they drop out of sight forever. This was the continuous injection of novelty which kept the series fresh and unpredictable, so that there was always something new and exciting turning up, and then they would move on to the next new and exciting thing. In other words, this was a series that was always 'on the move', developing in an organic fashion, and hence very much alive. The sense of fun was always there, fed with the new and unexpected at every turn. This fourth episode is as hilarious as ever, with even more outrageous plot variations appearing. In this episode, the boy next door named Alvin (played by Danny Mummert, who has now learned to regard adults with a supercilious eye, which adds to the comedy effect) is portrayed as a precocious budding intellectual, who aged five quotes Samuel Johnson: 'Intelligence is always superior to force'. He says this to Dagwood, whom he calls 'a dumbbell'. Blondie pouts and gets jealous that the little boy next door may be cleverer than her own Baby Dumpling, aged four. At that point Alvin makes it possible to open the front door, which was 'stuck' so that neither Dagwood nor Blondie could open it, simply by turning the top lock. In walks a door to door encyclopaedia salesman, who offers a free intelligence test to the two children. The results are that Baby Dumpling turns out to be a genius, and the man pronounces: 'He has an IQ of 168, which is thirty points above the genius level.' Blondie phones Dagwood at the office to tell him this, and Dagwood panics and rushes out of the office shouting: 'I have to go home immediately! Baby Dumpling is ill. He has an IQ of 168!' Blondie insists that because Baby Dumpling is a genius, he must go to school immediately, so she and Dagwood lie about his age and have him enrolled. He refuses to be accompanied to school by anyone but Daisy the dog (whose antics are as cute as ever, including her raised ear trick). However, this leads to a traumatic incident where the waiting Daisy is captured by the officers of the Dog Pound and disappears, causing havoc amongst the Bumstead family. The Dog Pound sells Daisy to the nurse of a rich man whose daughter is in a wheelchair. Baby Dumpling, wandering around the streets looking for Daisy, hears her barking through a huge iron gate leading to a great house with a large lawn, goes in, and is reunited. The invalid girl's father is furious that the nurse let his child have a dog, as he thought dogs were bad for people. Meanwhile, Dagwood has been set up by an unscrupulous property developer during Mr. Withers's absence on holiday and tricked into making alterations to a building design in good faith which the man intends to use as a pretext to get out of a contract because he is secretly going bust. However, after Baby Dumpling coaxes the invalid girl into walking and playing, aided by the jovial company of Daisy, the rich father decides in his joy to build a children's' home with kennels for dogs included. However, he needs a design. Dagwood's design for the crooked builder has been rejected and he has had it carry it home. He dumps it over his front fence and Blondie, who had been weeding on her knees at that very spot, gets encapsulated. This is a very good sight-gag. This design ends up being enthusiastically adopted by the rich man, thus saving Dagwood's job, as Dithers has just fired him again, but quickly re-hires him and gives him a bonus. All of these shenanigans are directed with pace and style, as usual, by Frank R. Strayer, who did the previous three episodes and was to go on to do three more before leaving the Blondie series. Strayer deserves a great deal of the credit for making the Blondie films crisp, funny, and fast. Larry Simms as Baby Dumpling is just as outrageous and cute and funny as ever. Arthur Lake is, well, he is Dagwood. And Penny Singleton (the pre-War version of January Jones) is superb as usual as the dominant Blondie, who while keeping all the men and babies in order has her own moments of feminine frailty and looks weepily at her departing child on his way to school, sensing the fleeting joys of parenthood. Daisy plays Daisy with the same poise and personality as ever, and it is certain that her Dog IQ was even higher than 168. What a wonderful addition to the Blondie series this episode was. In this one, the postman plans various devious ways of avoiding the inevitable collision with Dagwood in the mornings, but all his best-laid plans fail comically. There is simply no way for any postman to avoid the Dagwood Menace, and the bumbling chaos of Dagwood's behaviour spreads like peanut butter over the entire proceedings. But the hopeless Dagwood is so lovable, and Blondie adores him so much, that we forgive him everything. And so we continue to watch the endlessly fascinating spectacle of Blondie bringing up both baby and husband.
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