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The Great Gildersleeve (1942)

Approved | | Comedy | 2 January 1943 (USA)
Gildersleeve, a small town bachelor, has slapstick troubles with a husband-hunting woman and two helpful kids.



(screen play), (screen play)
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Throckmorton Gildersleeve is a blustery "ladies" man who often finds himself in unusual predicaments. Raising his too smart nephew Leroy, he leans on his secretary Bessie and tries to ignore the advice of housekeeper Birdie.

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Complete credited cast:
Freddie Mercer ...
Mary Field ...
Amelia Hooker
Frank Powers (as George Carleton)


Small-town eccentric Throckmorton Gildersleeve (of radio fame) has a few problems: Judge Hooker continually questions his guardianship of niece Margie and nephew Leroy; the judge's predatory sister Amelia has matrimony in mind. When a misunderstanding gives Amelia the idea she's all but engaged, the kids form a wild scheme to get Gildersleeve out of trouble; slapstick results. Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


RADIO'S LAUGH CHAMP HIMSELF in his own big fun show on the screen - See more »




Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

2 January 1943 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El gordinflón detective  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


William Tetley, who played the role of LeRoy on the radio, couldn't appear on screen because he was actually an adult playing a child character. See more »


Referenced in Peeks at Hollywood (1946) See more »


My Bonnie (Lies Over the Ocean)
(1881) (uncredited)
Written by H.J. Fuller
Sung by Harold Peary, Nancy Gates, Freddie Mercer and Thurston Hall,
with Gates on piano
See more »

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User Reviews

"I'm sure you'd all just love to see me eating axle grease."
11 July 2015 | by (USA) – See all my reviews

The first of four RKO movies about Throckmorton P. Gildersleeve, a popular radio character voiced by Harold Peary. I'm far too young to have listened to the original Gildersleeve radio broadcasts but I have heard many of them thanks to Old Time Radio. It was a very funny sitcom with enjoyable characters and great voicework. The most distinct voice belonged to that of star Harold Peary, who continues the role in this film series. Gildersleeve is a friendly blowhard who takes in his niece and nephew after their parents die. In this first film in the series, a judge threatens to take the kids away from Gildersleeve if he doesn't marry the judge's spinster sister.

Harold Peary is fun but I think the phrase "a face made for radio" applies here. He has a very unique voice but his screen presence is lacking. Try closing your eyes during his scenes and you'll get an idea how much better he plays on radio. Jane Darwell plays Aunt Emma, who moves in to help Gildersleeve with the kids. She was such a fine dramatic actress and here she proves she can do comedy quite well, too. Lillian Randolph plays Birdie the maid. Nancy Gates and Freddie Mercer play the two kids. Mercer is a little weird and nowhere near as funny as Walter Tetley was in the role on radio. Gates is pretty and likable. Thurston Hall, Charles Arnt, and Mary Field round out the cast.

Probably my favorite scene in the movie is an early one where Gildersleeve takes his nephew's scooter to pick up Aunt Emma from the train station. In addition to being a hilarious scene, there's some cute rear projection effects. There are funny moments throughout even if it never manages to match the level of the radio show. As with all old movies about small-town America, there is a certain charm and innocence about it that I can't help but enjoy watching. For a lack of a better word to describe the feeling, it's a 'peaceful' viewing experience.

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