Blondie Meets the Boss (1939)
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The story opens typically at the breakfast table as the Bumsteads, Dagwood (Arthur Lake), Blondie (Penny Singleton) and Baby Dumpling (Larry Simms) prepare themselves and looking forward to their upcoming vacation away from home, followed by Dagwood rushing out the front door to catch his bus to the office and bumping into the neighborhood postman (Irving Bacon). While at the office, everything seems to be going well on his last day before vacation time until Dagwood is told by Mr. Dithers (Jonathan Hale) that he is needed at the office and vacation plans are to be postponed until he settles an important construction deal while in Washington. Because he hasn't had a vacation in two years, Dagwood refuses and resigns. After returning home with the news, Blondie, the helpful wife as she is, leaves Dagwood in apron, broom and the household chores while she goes to the office to speak to Dithers. Dithers agrees to take Bumstead back under the condition that, wanting to teach Dagwood a lesson, has Blondie take her husband's place during his absence. After Dithers informs Dagwood of his plan, the humiliated Dagwood decides to teach Blondie a lesson by leaving the household chores and babysitting under the care of Blondie's visiting sister, "Dot" (Dorothy Moore) and her boyfriend Freddie (Joel Dean), who have arrived in town to stay at the house and practice for the upcoming jitterbug dance contest, and go fishing with his neighbor, Marvin Williams (Don Beddoe). Guilt sets in for Dagwood when Marvin invites Francine Rogers (Linda Winters) and Betty Lou Walters (Inez Courtney), singers of the Garden Club, to accompany them. More complications follow leading to Blondie's accusing Dagwood of infidelity after finding a photograph of him on a boat with Francine, while Dagwood, trying to retrieve Baby Dumpling at the Garden Club from Dot and Freddie, meets up with Francine and spotted there by Blondie, who happens to be there to settle a business deal for Dithers. The highlight of the evening occurs with Dagwood, in a confusing state of mind after getting hit on the head with a purse by Blondie, to accidentally step onto the dance floor of the jitterbug contest, filling in for Freddie, who walked out on Dot, whose unusual style of dancing makes it possible for Dot to win the dance contest. More fun and confusion continue before Mr. Dithers returns with surprising news.
Familiar faces appearing in smaller roles include Eddie Acuff as the peddler; William B. Davidson as the night club patron; Wallis Clark as Henry W. Philpont; George Chandler as the laundry man; Edward Gargan as the Night Club Bouncer; Grady Sutton as the film processor; and Stanley Brown as Dagwood's co-worker, Ollie Shaw, who takes an interest in Blondie more ways than one. "You Had It Coming to You" by Sam Lerner and Ben Oakland is introduced during the night club sequence by Skinney Ennis and his Band performing.
Slow going and predictable at times, mostly during its first half, BLONDIE MEETS THE BOSS is a satisfactory entry with several funny bits to go around, especially by Daisy, the Bumstead pooch, raising her ears at times of astonishment. Aside from the "running gag" involving the poor postman's attempt to deliver the morning mail only to meet up with Bumstead as he rushes out of the house, there's a neat twist of delight for him as Blondie does the exact same thing, only leaving lipstick print on his cheek. He says to Dagwood, "You know, Mr. Bumstead. I like it better this way." Then there's little Alvin Fuddle (Danny Mummert), Baby Dumpling's best friend who lives next door, showing off his intelligence by spelling Mississippi forwards and backwards. He's around during the early portion of the story and is not seen or heard from again, until the next installments, anyway.
Distributed on commercial television in the 1970s with new opening and closing credits from King Features, the original theatrical opening credits has been restored and presented that way when aired on American Movie Classics from 1996 to 2001. Its availability on video and DVD doesn't include the original opening, but is sure to be purchased regardless by fans of the series. Next installment: "Blondie Takes a Vacation." Finally. (**1/2)
Director: FRANK R. STRAYER. Screenplay: Kay Van Riper, Richard Flournoy. Based on characters created by Murat Bernard "Chic" Young. Photographed by Henry Freulich. Film editor: Gene Havlick. Art director: Lionel Banks. Gowns: Kalloch. Music director: Morris W. Stoloff. Dance director: Eddie Larkin. Song, "You Had It Coming To You" (Courtney). Associate producer: Robert Sparks.
Copyright 27 February 1939 by Columbia Pictures Corp. New York opening at Loew's Criterion: 26 April 1939. U.S. release: 8 March 1939. Australian release: 8 June 1939. This movie's original running time of 74 minutes was trimmed to 58 minutes when the movie went into general release as a second feature. All current television prints have been restored by King Features to the original length of 74 minutes.
SYNOPSIS: Blondie takes over Dagwood's job at the office while he goes fishing.
NOTES: Number two of the 28-picture series . COMMENT: The second of the series. It has no thematic relation to the first film but makes constant references to the third, "Blondie Takes a Vacation".
Kay Van Riper, fresh from writing Judge Hardy's little speeches in the MGM series, here takes a hand with some of Blondie's dialogue — with disastrous results. Despite the presence of a fine supporting cast, a great deal of the film is rather dreary, though there is one marvelous episode in which Dagwood goes jitterbugging.
Lake, as usual, is a bit strained, but even Penny Singleton appears baffled by the wordy script.
I find Johnathan Hale hard to accept as Julius Dithers. In the strip, he is short and fattish. Mr. Hale, however, is tall and slenderish.
The story begins with the Bumstead family about to go on vacation. However, Mr. Dithers informs Dagwood he cannot go and he MUST complete some business deal. Well, not surprisingly, Dagwood is angry and he quits his job then and there. When he returns home, he tells the wife...and she goes to talk to Mr. Dithers. Surprisingly, he offers her Dagwood's job 'to teach him a lesson'.
At the same time, Dagwood listens to his idiotic neighbor and takes a fishing trip (leaving Baby Dumpling with his aunt). However, the neighbor is a real Cassanova and the trip includes women...and these are two married men. Dagwood soon leaves...he's just not the cheating kid of guy. But photos taken during this brief outing come back to haunt him when Blondie finds them and thinks the worst.
I didn't particularly like the idea of this sweet and loving couple planning on getting a divorce. It seemed untrue to the characters. Still, the film is entertaining and Baby Dumpling has a few good lines here and there. Pleasant but a tad disappointing.
Of course, now it's in a separate guide. They actually got a lot done on the first sequel. They even make jokes about Dagwood running over the mailman. That's just the second movie out of twenty-seven! The funniest part was easily when Blondie got mad and then it showed stock footage of random stuff blowing up! I thought their neighbor was named Herb, but here he's called Marvin. Well, they've probably changed a lot in the seventy years since this movie! ***
It gets even worse philandering neighbor Don Beddoe tries to get Dagwood to join in a romantic romp. Dorothy Comingore is certainly a lovely distraction, but a compromising photograph of her and Arthur Lake just about ruins the Bumstead marriage.
I find the whole premise rather silly and I could hardly believe that the Dithers Construction Company couldn't function for a couple of weeks without a Bumstead on the payroll. Still there are some precious moments in Blondie Meets The Boss, my favorite being Blondie plowing into the mailman for a change.
The swing band of Skinnay Ennis is featured here with a vocal or two from Ennis who around this time was featured on Bob Hope's radio show. And there is a jitterbug contest that Lake and Comingore accidentally enter.
Fans of the series should like this.
Once again, Baby Dumpling and Daisy end up being the scene-stealers here with Larry Simms showing the tot next door (the returning Danny Mummert) to watch his back and sharing a dance with Daisy while Blondie's sister and a dancing partner do a rumba. The slapstick quotient is up from the first film, continuing the trend of the wary postman creeping up to the Bumstead's door with caution, only to have all of his mail go flying when he finds that it isn't Dagwood banging into him, but the lovely missus. Blondie proves that she can be a serious businesswoman, even if her emotions get in the way concerning her jealousy while trying to finalize a deal for Mr. Dithers. After a weak start, the series starts to improve a bit, which explains why it would go on for more than another decade.