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Oliver Pease gets a dose of courage from his wife Martha and tricks the editor of the paper (where he writes lost pet notices) into assigning him the day's roving question. Martha suggests, "Has a little child ever changed your life?" Oliver gets answers from two slow-talking musicians, an actress whose roles usually feature a sarong, and an itinerant cardsharp. In each case the "little child" is hardly innocent: in the first, a local auto mechanic's "baby" turns out to be fully developed as a woman and a musician; in the second, a spoiled child star learns kindness; in the third, the family of a lost brat doesn't want him returned. And Oliver, what becomes of him? Written by
ON OUR MERRY WAY (King Vidor, Leslie Fenton and, uncredited, John Huston and George Stevens, 1948) **1/2
This odd, freewheeling, independently-made compendium film emerges as little more than a glorified home movie (despite the considerable talent involved) but is certainly watchable and entertaining in itself. The linking narrative revolves around married couple Burgess Meredith and Paulette Goddard (at the time hitched in real life): she's an artist and he a lowly employee with a newspaper aspiring to be a journalist; while attempting to flee a creditor, he meets and interviews a number of people about the influence of children in their lives.
The three 'stories' are quite nice with all the various performers contributing generous and relaxed cameos: the first concerns down-and-out musicians Henry Fonda and James Stewart and their involvement in an instrumental contest taking place in a small town (they're all too ready to appease the mayor who has promised them a lot of money if his son is allowed to win but, thanks to the intervention of trumpeter Harry James, a multi-talented girl emerges the clear winner and eventually becomes the owner of Fonda and Stewart's band!); the second finds Dorothy Lamour parodying her former image of a sarong girl (she's a bit player whose opportunity for stardom finally arises out of a disastrous stint in a vehicle for a spoilt child star); the last story, reminiscent of O. Henry's "The Ransom Of Red Chief" (later filmed by Howard Hawks), involves ex-con magician Fred MacMurray and how he and his partner William Demarest stumble upon a boy in the woods and are continually outwitted by him (he's actually fleeing from his eccentric banker uncle but MacMurray eventually discovers his true identity and, in the end, the boy and his elder sister join in on the magic act).
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