Since Larry Simms was quickly approaching his pre-teen years, the producers of the series decided that "Baby" Dumpling couldn't go on being called "Baby" forever and they decided to drop the moniker and call the Bumstead son by his given name, Alexander. This is the first in the Blondie series in which it went into effect. See more »
Sometimes I think that horse understands everything I say.
Then he's smarter than I am.
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IT'S A GREAT LIFE (Columbia, 1943), directed by Frank R. Strayer, Number 13 of Chic Young's popular comic strip characters brought-to-life "Blondie" series, is the first of two to eliminate "Blondie" in the title. For the opening credits, it was subtitled: "Blondie and the Bumsteads," but in spite of some minor changes along with repetition of comedy gags, this one comes across quite well.
In this entry, the Bumsteads encounter in more trouble when Dagwood (Arthur Lake) acquires a horse named Reggie instead of a house for Mrs. Dithers which he was supposed to purchase as a favor for his employer, Mr. J.C. Dithers (Jonathan Hale). After this merry mix-up, Dithers, of course, blows up steam. Once Dagwood manages to take the horse back home with him, and getting it past his wife, Blondie (Penny Singleton), the animal becomes so attached to his new owner that Reggie even gives him a horseback ride to the office after Dagwood misses his morning bus to work. (One scene finds the postman, Mr. Crumb (Irving Bacon), who usually gets his daily knock downs from Dagwood, this time by Reggie, and acquiring hoof prints on his uniform). Although the Bumsteads manage to sell Reggie to Collender Martin (Alan Dinehart), Dagwood begins to have second thoughts, especially after he goes to sleep and dreams of Reggie being abused by the new owner. After awakening from his nightmare, Dagwood finds Reggie back on his property. When Martin arrives to reclaim his horse, Blondie tears up the check. Later, Dagwood finds himself riding Reggie in a fox hunt hosted by Timothy Brewster (Hugh Herbert), a horse fancier and one of Dithers' important clients whom both Dithers and Martin want to impress in order to get his account, with amusing results.
IT'S A GREAT LIFE obviously borrows in plot from BLONDIE IN SOCIETY (1941), which focused on Dagwood's purchase of a great dane, with he and Dithers encountering an important client who happens to be a dog fancier, thus using the animal to make an impression. With BLONDIE IN SOCIETY being the funniest of the two, highlighted by a dog contest, IT'S A GREAT LIFE succeeds once more with its highlight of the fox hunt along with the use of animals showing off their talents, especially the Bumstead pooch, Daisy. Both dog and horse work well together, compliments from their animal trainer(s). The laughs aren't as plentiful here as in BLONDIE IN SOCIETY," but it still gets by as good family entertainment.
In the supporting cast are the Bumstead children, Larry Simms as Alexander; and Marjorie Ann Mutchie as Cookie; with Danny Mummert as Alvin Fuddow, the next door boy "genius," and Ray Walker as a salesman. Take notice in this entry that Blondie's usual light blonde hair appearing to be a little darker than usual.
IT'S A GREAT LIFE, along with the 27 other "Blondie" comedies (1938-1950), had a very successful run on American Movie Classics cable channel from 1996 to 2001. This particular film,along with several others, included its original theatrical opening instead of the 1960s tag-on sing-along opening with full cast and staff names posted on drawn comic-strip type envelopes, the type of opening used in video distributions through King Features. Next chapter: FOOTLIGHT GLAMOUR (1943) **1/2
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