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The Bumsteads decide to spend a safe and sane 4th of July at Aunt Hannah's ranch. After missing their station, they hitch a ride with a young couple who are getting ready to elope. The young man, Charlie, sprains his ankle, so Dagwood is enlisted to carry the girl off for him. Dagwood climbs into her father's window by mistake, and just as the old man is about to explode with rage, Baby Dumpling explodes a firecracker which turns out to be a stick of dynamite. As the action reaches its peak, a gusher of oil suddenly springs up in the yard. Written by
Fiona Kelleghan <email@example.com>
BLONDIE PLAYS CUPID (Columbia, 1940), the sixth installment featuring "Blondie and the Bumsteads", ranks as one of their funnier entries in the series, and noteworthy, too, for an early screen appearance of future film star, Glenn Ford, almost unrecognizable in his very youthful appearance. While the title indicates a Valentine's Day theme,the setting takes place during the 4th of July weekend placing the Bumsteads in another vacation out-of-town venture.
The fun begins with Daisy, the Bumstead pooch, letting in some her neighborhood dog friends of various breeds, including a St. Bernard who gets stuck in Daisy's little pet door, into the house to share in eating a big bone, creating enough disturbance in having Blondie (Penny Singleton) being chased around the house until she eventually lures them out the door. Then there's husband Dagwood (Arthur Lake), preparing for the festivities for the 4th of July weekend, having hidden a bag full of firecrackers known only to his son, Baby Dumpling (Larry Simms), into his suitcase. Once Blondie discovers their secret, she ends their fun by placing them into a tub of water. Blondie makes it known that she's doing this for their own good, not wanting any casualties to occur. Because Mr. Dithers (Jonathan Hale) has granted his employees an extra day off for the weekend, Blondie decides to family break away from the American tradition and noisy firecrackers by taking the family to the country with a visit with her Aunt Hannah (Leona Roberts) and Uncle Abner (Spencer Charters) on their farm in Crossley for some peace and quiet. Things are far from that once their vacation gets started. Dagwood nearly misses the train while the Bumsteads end up on the express train to Kingsley instead of the local,only to leave them 72 miles from their destination. The no-nonsense ticket collector (wonderfully played by Charles Lane) almost consents on breaking the rules by stopping the train in Crossley until he discovers the "baby" Blondie is holding in her arms happens to be Daisy disguised as an infant. As the Bumsteads find themselves on the side of the road walking in the middle of nowhere, they hitchhike for cars to stop. They are soon picked up by an eloping couple, Charlie Collins and Millie Tucker (Glenn Ford and Luana Walters), oh their way to Weehawk to get married by Newton Banks (Si Jenks), justice of the peace. WIth Blondie acting as their witness, the ceremony is interrupted with the arrival of the bride's father (Will Wright), holding a shotgun, taking Millie back home with him in Charlie's car with Dagwood, Baby Dumpling and Daisy still sitting in the back seat. It's up to Blondie to play cupid by arranging for the couple to get together again. Because Charlie has twisted his ankle, she has Dagwood climbing up the ladder to get Millie instead. Things get even more complicated as Dagwood enters the wrong window, and following a wild chase, comes face to face with the old man and his shotgun. What an interesting and worthwhile essay for Baby Dumpling when he returns to school describing how he spent his summer vacation.
What makes this entry worthwhile is the fine comic support of character actors whose names may not be relatively known but their faces are. First off, Will Wright as the gruff speaking hillbilly father who carries a shotgun, and on a couple of occasions, threatens Dagwood with it. Dagwood tells him, "You wouldn't talk that way if you didn't have a shotgun in your hand." Then there's Si Jenks, the hard of hearing justice of the peace; and Spencer Charters and Leona Roberts as the wholesome elderly couple. Series regulars Jonathan Hale (Mr. DIthers), Danny Mummert (Alvin Fuddow), and Irving Bacon (The Postman) don't have much to do this time around. However, it's Bacon as the neighborhood letter carrier whose attempt to deliver the mail without getting knocked down by Dagwood who comes out ahead. Alvin gives him an idea of throwing the mail through an open window, while at the same time, the Bumsteads acquire a lighted firecracker, and throw it his way. This is one of the few times, however, where the postman really gets even, making enough noise to have the Bumsteads jumping out of their recently shellacked chairs, leaving clothing material behind.
Nearly three years from the start of the series, Larry Simms has outgrown his sitting on a high chair, now eating breakfast on a stool, and wearing long pants in certain scenes. Although too young to be in the driver's seat, he does so here quite by accident. While pretending to be driving an old jalopy, the motor starts up as he opens the door to get out, which is customary. This is followed by Baby Dumpling driving all over the place, causing poor Dagwood to either chase after him or being chased by him. "B-l-o-n-d-i-e!!!" Although Baby Dumpling will soon change his name to Alexander by 1942, BLONDIE PLAYS CUPID and BLONDIE BRINGS UP BABY (1939) are the only entries where his birth name of Dagwood Bumstead Jr. is ever mentioned.
Available on either video cassette or DVD format with sing-along opening from King Features, BLONDIE PLAYS CUPID did have a successful run each Sunday morning on American Movie Classics (1996-2001) with restored original credits. Regardless of the format, Blondie fans certainly will enjoy this one. Next chapter: "Blondie Goes Latin" (**1/2)
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