|Index||9 reviews in total|
Harold Peary's title character is a delight. The guy is id personified:
Everything that comes into his mind, he comments on. He says what he
thinks. Or he makes sounds that seem to him appropriate. Kind of like a
His family is very appealing. Freddie Mercer, as his nephew LeRoy, is a likable child actor. In addition, he has a beautiful boy soprano voice. O for the days when children were given voice and music lessons in their homes! (Rich or extraordinarily gifted children still are but this is a precursor to Mayberry, RFD.) Gildersleeve is pursued here by a truly man-crazy woman. We are distracted from this initially because she is the homely, bespectacled spinster daughter of the town judge. But she really likes men.
It's a charming bit of nostalgia.
HAROLD PEARY brings his trademark laugh and distinctive voice to the
screen in the first of the Gildersleeve films starring him in the title
role. It's strictly corny, lowbrow comedy but lots of fun, an
unpretentious little programmer from the early, patriotic '40s.
With a running time of one hour and two minutes, it seems more like a back to back half-hour TV situation comedy in style with the running joke being Gildersleeve's attempt to remain the bachelor guardian of two children and suspected of having marriage plans with the plain spinster mistakenly assumed to be his intended.
Nice support from JANE DARWELL as his efficient Aunt Emma, willing to help Gildersleeve with his household responsibilities and NANCY GATES as one of his charges. Much of the humor springs from Peary's comic skill with slapstick material as he mismanages everything.
CHARLES ARNT as a befuddled and irate Judge Hooker is effective in a supporting role, as is MARY FIELD as his sister, the unattractive spinster.
Anyone familiar with the Gildersleeve of radio fame is sure to enjoy this situation comedy from the Golden Age of B-film programmers.
The radio show is A-1 and at the top of the heap of Old time Radio and had a cast that was amazing in it's greatness. The movie unfortunately is missing a few beats and cannot live up to the radio version. But you know what? It really doesn't matter much, Gildersleeve is still a delight to watch and there are enough good backup parts to carry the show. The radio show Leroy is not here and that is a major problem. Peavey is here, but he is not much of an actor on the screen. But there is still enough fun and characters to carry us on a charming romp through the days of yore, when fun was fun and it was rate G! I am a big fan of the radio show and also of the television show and I would recommend watching the movies whenever TCM runs them. Usually they run all the movies on the same day, so get your recorders ready.
You don't have to be an old-time radio buff to enjoy films like this.
If you're simply an admirer of good comedy, that's enough.
All the GILDERSLEEVE films made by RKO in the 1940s were thoroughly enjoyable, and this first one of the series was one of the very, very best. Of course it all hangs on Harold Peary's performance as the blustering Throckmorton Gildersleeve and he doesn't disappoint for a single moment. His performance is fresh, original and warm and he brings to the part a believability that rises above the occasional well-handled slapstick interludes. Peary was one of a kind and, as they say, we shall not look upon his like again.
Jane Darwell, fresh from her Oscar-winning performance in John Ford's THE GRAPES OF WRATH, added solid support as Aunt Emma, while the rest of the cast (which included some of the original radio stars) added much to the fun.
This pre-babyboomer piece of Americana is highly recommended for its wit, its charm and its evocation of the better USA that once was. Let's hope Warner Brothers (who now own the RKO films) will get these onto blu-ray or DVD real soon.
Great glimpse of small town America, when it and not car crashes was the focus of media entertainment. Gildy's a perfect small town character, right down to his basso profundo grunts, groans, and cackles. Here he's got a feud going with the town judge (Arnt) who's questioning his guardianship of teenage niece (Gates) and singing wonder nephew (Mercer). So naturally, to top his rival, Gildy runs for mayor. I love that little campaign parade down Main Street with a band and majorette, just perfect for a small town. Then too, how is eligible bachelor Gildersleeve going to escape the wiles of husband-hunting Amelia, the judge's sister of all people. She's nothing if not persistent. Anyway, the kids are cute, the plot amusing, plus there's a good whiff of a gentler age unfortunately gone by.
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.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Copyright 15 January 1943 by RKO Radio Pictures, Inc. New York opening
at the Palace (as a support to a second run of Now, Voyager): 17
December 1942. U.S. release: 1 January 1943. Australian release: 15
April 1943. 5,731 feet. 63 minutes.
SYNOPSIS: Gildersleeve is pursued by the judge's music-teaching daughter. He tries to keep a low profile, but his nephew determines to make the town Gildersleeve conscious.
NOTES: First of the four-picture Gildersleeve series. The others: Gildersleeve's Bad Day (1943), Gildersleeve on Broadway (1943), Gildersleeve's Ghost (1944). All starred Harold Peary as Gildersleeve and all were directed by Gordon Douglas, and produced for RKO by Herman Schlom.
COMMENT: Certainly at least twice as entertaining as the radio show, Gildersleeve emerges as a bigger man than we visualized, though still exuding that same air of asinine self-confidence and still of course in full possession of that fruity, full-volumed radio voice.
The other characters also translate well to the screen. Nancy Gates makes an absolutely gorgeous Marjorie, Freddie Mercer appears just right as the inventive LeRoy, and Lillian Randolph is a stand-out as the long-suffering Birdie.
It's also good to see Jane Darwell (as practical Aunt Emma), Thurston Hall (in a nice big windbag part as the snuffling governor), George Chandler (a prying telegram man), and other favorites.
By the humble standards of the "B" brigade, the movie has been produced on a fair-sized budget with a high-stepping street parade, a location-lensed foot race, a packed testimonial luncheon and other diversions.
The direction maintains a welcome feeling of pace even when the gags are telegraphed well ahead. Frank Redman's brightly attractive photography also helps the movie's delightful momentum.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is a fairly entertaining "B" picture. I'm glad they've brought
back a few of these on TCM.
Harold Peary plays Gildersleeve, and he's a hoot here. The other real treat here is the wonderful Jane Darwell.
The story is simple -- in order to keep his niece and nephew, Gildersleeve may have to marry the judge's spinster sister...a fate worse than death! Gildersleeve gets in a variety of jams as he works through his options.
There are some good laughs here, but some problems, as well. The pieces of the film don't always seem to fit together...seems rather episodic...and the conclusion of the film only implies a solution to the initial problem. But, that's okay. Overall it works if you just don't take it too seriously.
Harold Peary played the good role of Gildersleeve. His laugh was his trademark. He use to be in radio, before coming to movies. In one episode I like was when the bicycle split into going in separate directions and he yelled LeRoy. This was funny. We need more movies of this gender.
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