BLONDIE'S BLESSED EVENT (Columbia, 1942), directed by Frank R. Strayer, the eleventh installment to the popular family series based on Chic Young's comic strip characters is, what the title says, "Blondie's Blessed Event." What the title doesn't incline is an uninvited house guest whom Dagwood had earlier befriended who makes himself so much at home that he doesn't want to leave. Aside from the birth of the new offspring named Cookie, there's another blessed event is the birth of Daisy's five puppies, and without a male dog around or seen(if one counts Daisy being a male dog "herself"), having a litter of puppies comes as a surprise, even more of a miracle for Blondie being in her ninth month and having a normal waist line.
Plot summary: Blondie (Penny SIngleton) is expecting (pregnant by today's terms), and the birth can occur at any time. Being a father again has made husband Dagwood (Arthur Lake) such a nervous wreck, complicating matters at both home and at the office. As a favor for Blondie, Mr. Dithers (Jonathan Hale), Dagwood's boss, agrees to help out by sending him to Chicago for a few days to attend a business convention where he is to make a speech. While in Chicago, strolling up and down the hallway rehearsing his speech, Dagwood encounters a guest next door named George Wickley (Hans Conried), a struggling playwright, who immediately takes advantage of Dagwood's good nature by eating his "Dagwood sandwich" and rewording his written speech in exchange for a meal. The convention proves successful for Dagwood as he makes the front page of various newspapers, thanks to George's revised speech. In gratitude, Dagwood tells George that whenever he's in town, to look him up. (Bad mistake!). Upon his return home, Dagwood helps with the household chores, assisted by his son, Baby Dumpling (Larry Simms) while Blondie is at the maternity hospital. After the birth of their newborn daughter (Norma Jean Wayne), the Bumsteads return home via taxi to find George Wickley from Chicago sitting on his suitcase waiting at their front door. True to his word, Dagwood invites him to be his guest. Blondie becomes furious when George takes charge, eating them out of house and home, hiring Sarah Miller (Mary Wickes), an obnoxious housekeeper yearning to become an actress, takes charge in minding the baby and the household chores. The last straw occurs after Dagwood gets his much needed raise from Mr. Dithers, with the help of George speaking on his behalf. Blondie has a showdown with George, ordering him to leave. Things really get complicated as Baby Dumpling, now insisting on being called Alexander, who wants "Uncle George" to stay, for reasons of his own.
Enjoyable entry with real life situations to what many can relate to re-enacted on screen, particularly with older child's jealously towards a newborn member and not getting the attention he once had as a only child, relying on an outside source for attention. How many have been put into a situation in accommodating for a guest who overstays his welcome? Such as the case with the Bumsteads with their guest not having a clue, or purposely overlooking that fact, that he's an intrusion. Great father and son bonding taken place as Dagwood and Baby Dumpling team up by helping with the household chores during Blondie's stay at the hospital, adding humor to the situation with father vacuuming the house, Alexander emptying out the vacuum cleaner bag to take out everything imaginable, ranging from bathroom rug to Elmer, one of Daisy's pups, followed by a scene in the waiting room where Dagwood makes every attempt to explain to his son that babies do not come by stalk, as he imagines. With Alvin Fuddow(Danny Mummert), Alexander's know it all best friend, sitting in on this, this ought to be good. In spite of many commotions to follow, Blondie does find time to sing "Lullaby" while putting Cookie to sleep.
Fine character actors add to the humor,especially from future television veteran actors, Hans Conried and Mary Wickes who make their unpleasant characters likable; Paul Harvey as William Lawrence in another one of many business tycoon roles; Tom Kennedy as a traffic cop who unwittingly gives the Bumstead baby the name of Cookie; and Stanley Brown returning as one of Dagwood's co-workers, Ollie Shaw. Series regular Irving Bacon as Bert Crump, the harassed postman, pulls all stops to avoid getting run down by Bumstead while delivering the morning mail, but to no avail.
BLONDIE'S BLESSED EVENT, which runs at 67 minutes, had a successful run (1996-2001) every Sunday morning as part of "Family Classics:" on American Movie Classics, with much of the 28 episode series restored to original theatrical opening credits. Video cassette and DVD copies include sing-along opening titles formerly shown on commercial television back in the 1970s, compliments of King Features. (**1/2) Next installment: BLONDIE FOR VICTORY (1942).
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