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Based on a successful play, this movie launched a somewhat bland series. What's really surprising is that the screenplay was written by Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder who also wrote the script for "Ninotchka" and "Midnight" that same year. There isn't any of the typical Wilder/Brackett bite in the script, but they may have been saddled with constraints of the original. Aside from Jackie Cooper who was a real teen at the time, most of the other students were considerably older. The rest of the cast is competent, including Hedda Hopper as Henry's mother. John Howard provides a pleasant counterpoint to the stuffy teachers on Central High's staff. Henry's father, who is often referred to in the dialog, never appears.
If you've read under my username for the past several months, you know I've been reviewing most of the Our Gang film entries in chronological order as well as separate features and shorts that have individual members in them the same way in between those entries. So it is that I'm now reviewing former member Jackie Cooper-a teen by this point-playing someone close to his age as a high school student named Henry Aldrich. He's an average student who gets pranked on by sports-lettered guy George Bigelow (James Corner) and crushed on by a fellow student named Barbara Pearson (Betty Field) who's initially shy with braces before getting a transformation. Adapted from Clifford Goldsmith's play by Charles Brackett & Billy Wilder (yes, you read that right), What a Life is both funny and quite touching if a little exaggerated in some of the situations. So on that note, that's a recommendation. P.S. One of the teen girls was played by a Janet Waldo, perhaps best known as the voice of eternal teen Judy Jetson on "The Jetsons".
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