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S. Sylvan Simon
In the shanty town called the Cabbage Patch, Mrs. Wiggs scrabbles for survival with her brood of children and hopes for the return of her husband, who left many years before. Written by
Jim Beaver <email@example.com>
One of over 700 Paramount Productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by Universal ever since. See more »
All it is missing is the violin and one of the heroines tied to the railroad tracks.
One of the corniest melodramas ever made and re-made, this tale of an abandoned wife (Fay Bainter) raising her many children in a shanty town and all the suffering she goes through to make sure that bread is on the table is a step above too much. This version is extremely rare, overshadowed by its first talkie version, and the plight of the mother really seems secondary to that of her spinster friend Vera Vague who is seemingly being taken in by a con-artist and possible bigamist (Hugh Herbert). Bainter, one of the best character actresses of the 30's and 40's, seems to speak her lines in a monotone, and the impact of her reacting to each plight she goes through can sometimes be a bit much. Like the 1934 version where Zasu Pitts and W.C. Fields were paired as the secondary couple, it is Vague and Herbert who attract more attention here, their comic relief quite welcome to the constant turmoils going on in the Whiggs family.
The young actors who play the children (amongst them Carolyn Lee and Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer) avoid becoming cloying, although they don't seem to be playing youngsters rather than children who just happen to be around. One of the key scenes has three nosy, if well-meaning, society ladies threatening to take the children away from Ma Bainter at Thanksgiving time, and this is when she finally steps up and shows some spunk. Movies like this, "Mother Carey's Chickens", "The Way of All Flesh" and "The Villain Still Pursued Her" sometimes feel like rip-offs of "Little Women" and don't contain the same emotional impact as that Louisa May Alcott classic.
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