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BLONDIE'S ANNIVERSARY (Columbia, 1947), directed by Abby Berlin, the
22nd theatrical release in the series based on Chic Young's popular
comic strip characters ranks one of the few "Blondie" titles to
actually be relevant to the story. For the first time since its initial
entry, BLONDIE (1938), the subject matter of a wedding anniversary is
mentioned. Unlike most series films that have been around for nearly a
decade, the writers would naturally fall into a rut by remaking earlier
material. As much as situations and gags have been reworked and
revised, the "Blondie" series actually didn't fall into the category of
redoing itself, although on a couple of occasions it re-invented
itself, notably BLONDIE'S HERO (1950) which broke away from domestic
situations by placing Dagwood in the Army Reserves.
The Blondie character was first introduced to the "funnies" in 1930. In 1933, Blondie married millionaire Dagwood Bumstead, who was disinherited by his family, thus, having to earn his own living like anybody else. In 1938, Columbia introduced Blondie and Dagwood to the screen in what developed into a very long series. Nearly ten years later comes BLONDIE'S ANNIVERSARY where Blondie (Penny Singleton) and Dagwood (Arthur Lake) are approaching their 15th wedding anniversary. Blondie is in her kitchen baking a cake for the big event, even humming to herself "The Anniversary Waltz." In the meantime, Dagwood accompanies his boss, George M. Radcliffe (Jerome Cowan) in landing a new business deal with Samuel A. Breckenridge (Grant Mitchell, reprising his role from 1947s BLONDIE'S HOLIDAY), the bank president who wants to contract Radcliffe in building a new hospital after having done such a splendid job constructing him a new bank. Radcliffe has taken a fancy to the bank president's attractive secretary, Gloria Stafford (Adele Jergens). After Dagwood accidentally breaks her watch and failing to undo his error, Radcliffe, hoping to get in good graces with Gloria, goes out and buys her a brand new $300 watch. He gives it to Dagwood to deliver it to Gloria the following morning. After returning home, Dagwood discovers that Blondie has found the watch, mistaking it for her anniversary gift. Unable to level with her, Ollie Merton (Jack Rice), Dagwood's co-worker, recommends borrowing money from "Sharkey" a loan-shark (William Frawley) and buying a new watch. With the loan, Dagwood purchases a second hand watch and substitutes that for Gloria. After putting it on her wrist, the watch falls apart, and because of it, Gloria angrily tells Radcliffe via telephone what she thinks of the gift. Due to the mishap, Dagwood loses his job and Radcliffe obtains the real watch from Blondie after telling her the situation. While Blondie is disappointed in Dagwood for forgetting their anniversary, Gloria is now happy with her new watch, and continues to play up to Radcliffe, but for reasons of her own, who turns out to be working undercover for Radcliffe's competitors, Burley (Edmund MacDonald) and Dalton (Fred Sears), with the intention of stealing Radcliffe's blueprints and a contract deal from Breckenridge. Because Dagwood is an expert blueprint designer, he is offered employment with Burley, thanks to Gloria. Dagwood works overtime for them until he overhears their scheme of using defective material on the hospital building. He later informs Burley that he wants out of their company, and tells him why (big mistake!). In order to keep Dagwood from informing to Radcliffe or Breckenridge, the crooks decide to put Dagwood out of circulation until the deal with Breckenridge is signed. Further developments occur as Sharkey looks for Bumstead in order to collect his loan as well as his very high interest rates, and Blondie's concern of Dagwood's disappearance.
Another occasionally amusing entry that leaves a lot to be desired. Arthur Lake can be frequently funny whenever a good script allows, even though his comic strip based character seldom emerges into a real person. However, his portrayal comes off as honest, yet gullible whenever confronting bad guys who attempt to convince him that he's mistaken about them. So trusting, he finds himself in a predicament locked inside their office standing with his feet encased in a block of cement, hands tied behind his back and mouth covered to keep him from calling out for help. At one point he loses balance, keels forward and lands on his head. Ouch! Unlike other long running film series, the "Blondie" comedies keep the same leading players throughout, with the exception of a few like Mr. Dithers replaced by Mr. Radcliffe, for example. In keeping the same players in their roles, loyal viewers get to notice physical changes occurring: Dagwood becoming slightly heavier in both face and body; Blondie already abandoning her traditional "Blondie" hairstyle in favor of more contemporary 1940s look; Alexander (Larry Simms), formerly Baby Dumpling, nearly the size of his screen parents, now speaking in deeper tone voice, as with his adolescent friend, Alvin Fuddow (Danny Mummert); Cookie (Marjorie Kent) still a child yet slightly taller; and Daisy, their dog, still looking relatively the same. What makes this particular series one of a kind is the fact that none of its lead actors were ever substituted by other actors enacting their roles in favor of fresh young faces. Also taking part of BLONDIE'S ANNIVERSARY are Alyn Lockwood (Mary, the switchboard girl); Eddie Acuff (Mr. Beasley, the postman); and Frank Wilcox (Mr. Carter).
BLONDIE'S ANNIVERSARY, along with 27 others in the series, formerly distributed on video cassette in the 1990s, aired on American Movie Classics from 1996 to 2002. Next in the series: BLONDIE'S REWARD (1948). Happy 15th Anniversary, Blondie and Dagwood.(**)
Poor Dagwood, in the past he's committed one flub after another and in
the Bumstead tradition always manages to somehow come out on top
because someone upstairs likes him. But in Blondie's Anniversary the
ball starts rolling when his bachelor boss Jerome Cowan starts with his
male member at the sight of Adele Jergens who is the secretary of Grant
Mitchell who wants to hire Cowan's firm to build a hospital. What Cowan
doesn't know is she's in league with a pair of unscrupulous
contractors, Edmund MacDonald and Fred Sears, who will way underbid
Cowan with the use of inferior materials.
It all starts to come apart when Cowan gives Arthur Lake money to buy an expensive watch for Jergens to get in good with her and with Mitchell. Lake buys the watch, but Penny Singleton thinks the watch is her anniversary present. That leads to all kinds of complications including Dagwood going to a loan shark played by William Frawley. Now that was Dagwood's decision and one of the worst he ever made in the history of the Blondie series.
Once again the Bumsteads prove they're the special interest in a merciful providence.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is the twenty-second in the Blondie movie series. As the title implies, Blondie's been married to Dagwood for 15 years and is looking forward for her hubby to get her a gift. When Mr. Radcliffe-a bachelor-meets the secretary (Adele Jergens), he's instantly smitten and offers to buy her a new watch to replace her old one which is worthless to her. Dag is supposed to give it to her before coming to work the next day, but when Blondie sees it when he takes it home, well, you know...To tell the truth, I was a little underwhelmed by this one though there's some pretty funny scenes to look forward to. And it's not only a treat to see someone from a previous film in the series reprise a character but also someone else from another of the series' entries play another role as William Frawley-from Blondie in Society-plays a loan shark who threatens Dagwood! Notably missing from this entry is Danny Mummert as Alvin Fuddle with other characters replacing him this time. Oh, and Eddie Acuff's mailman initially doesn't get knocked down by Dag since he's fired early on in this one but when he gets another job, watch out!
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