Dagwood is about to get sued by a neighbor for $500,000 and needs to raise some money real fast as he only makes about $4,000 a year working for the J. C. Dithers Construction Company. He finally obtains the money by allowing himself to be the guinea pig injected with a new truth serum. As a result of being able to speak only the truth, which he always did anyway, he wins a new contract for the Dithers firm and a raise. Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
BLONDIE KNOWS BEST (Columbia, 1946), directed by Abby Berlin, the 18th installment to the popular "Blondie" film series based on Chic Young's comic strip characters, is another winning entry.
First, the domestic standpoint of the story, which starts off quietly for the Bumsteads as Blondie (Penny Singleton), Dagwood (Arthur Lake), Alexander (Larry Simms) and Cookie (Marjorie Kent) are all gathered together at the breakfast table. Alvin Fuddow (Danny Mummert), Alexander's best friend and next door neighbor, arrives with the news that they have a new neighbor, who isn't very nice. Dagwood decides to go over and introduce himself, but the good neighbor policy falls apart as he tries to assist Mr. Conroy (Arthur Loft) by fixing his car parked on the driveway. Dagwood accidentally parks the car on Conroy's foot (ouch!), and as he tries to move it, Dagwood drives the car right through the garage door. Next scene, Dagwood is home with a bruised bump on his head given to him by Conroy with a wrench. Dagwood is later followed by Jim Gray (Shemp Howard), a myopic process server out to deliver a summons for him to appear in court, compliments of Conroy, who is suing Bumstead for damages. As Dagwood makes every effort to hide from Gray, he picks up the summons dropped by Gray, but Alvin tells him that it's not legal until the summons is hand delivered to him personally. So what Dagwood has to do is stay out of his reach, which isn't easy. At the workplace: Because Dagwood's boss, Mr. Dithers (Jonathan Hale) had an argument with another driver for bumping into his car, he discovers too late that the man he had insulted happens to be Charles Peabody (Jerome Cowan), an important client. Wanting the business deal to go through, Dithers has Dagwood assume his identity as boss while Dithers impersonates Bumstead. This trading places situation reaches its high point when situations are turned as Dagwood as Dithers fires "Bumstead," making an impression on Mr. Peabody for being the only way for him to sign a contract. The confusion gets even more complicated when Gray attempts to serve his summons to Dagwood Bumstead or to Mr. Dithers.
In spite of Blondie's name used in the title, BLONDIE KNOWS BEST, is, as usual, Dagwood's film all the way. Blondie may know best, but it is Dagwood who certainly knows how to get into situations leading to his spouse to come to the rescue, especially when Dagwood agrees to become the subject for doctors Schmidt (Steven Geray) and Titus (Ludwig Donath) of a lunatic asylum as a guinea pig to a new truth serum experiment for which Dagwood gets to collect his needed $500. Without such mishaps, there would be no story, in fact, no comedy, nor Daisy, the Bumstead dog, inducing her usual antics ranging from raising her ears with element of surprise or holding her head between her paws whenever situations appear hopeless. And that's the truth.
Alyn Lockwood joins the cast as Mary, the new switchboard operator at the Dithers Construction Company. Others in the cast include Edwin Cooper as David Armstrong; Carol Hughes as Gloria Evans; and Jack Rice as Ollie Merlin, the office trouble maker of Dagwood's.
It should be interesting to note that this was to be Jonathan Hale's 16th and final time as Dithers. Jerome Cowan, who appears as client, Charles Peabody, would become a series regular as well as Dagwood's new boss, George M. Radcliffe in the next entry. In spite that the "Blondie" series was pretty much consistent in keeping the actors and their roles virtually the same, it's not unusual for actors to be seen assuming different characterizations in series films. This would be one of the rare cases in finding the likes of Cowan acting a role in one film and appearing in another.
BLONDIE KNOWS BEST is funny and agreeable family viewing. Formerly distributed on video cassette through King Features, it had a successful run on American Movie Classics from 1996 to 2001, where this, and most of the series had its opening and closing restored to its original theatrical credits. Next installment: BLONDIE'S BIG MOMENT (1947) (***)
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