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There is a need for this kind of entertainment in our modern world. You can watch "Ma and Pa" with adults, with your family (kids any age or just by yourself like me. They are gentle, but gentle is so refreshing in a society of kids killing kids, a horrible war, inappropriate prime time television and poverty. We don't even get a hint of where all of those children came from! Give me modern plumbing and I'll gladly become a Kettle. Humor does NOT require offensive language. It is hard to follow conversations in shows where every other word is bleeped. Relax, take your shoes off, and climb in your recliner with a good old-fashioned glass of lemonade, and just breathe easy watching Ma sweeping the chickens off the table at lunch time! Pj
The Further Adventures of Ma and Pa Kettle almost seamlessly picks up
where The Egg and I left off. For the first solo adventure of the
Kettles a new writing team and director is introduced. Leonard
Goldstein, associate producer of The Egg and I, was producer of The
Further Adventures of Ma and Pa Kettle. With many of the characters
played by the same actors and actresses the focus from the MacDonalds
to the Kettles works very well. There is a reference to Ma beating
Birdie Hicks for first prize at the fair for her quilt, an import scene
in The Egg and I. The prize money from the quilt contest was to be used
to send Tom Kettle to college. In this movie Tom is returning home as a
There are two plots intertwined in this movie. One is the comedy of the simple mountain family moving into a state of the art modern house. The other is a light morality play on how environment affects children as they grow up.
Pa Kettle (Percy Kilbride) wanted a free tobacco pouch for entering a contest, and ended up winning a house. His disappointment at not getting the free tobacco pouch is played for laughs quite a bit. When Pa plays with dynamite he is totally oblivious to the explosion. Kilbride never flinched in the scene as the debris from the explosion fell around him. He played the part to perfection. In his autobiography, Jack Benny mentioned how impressed he was with Percy Kilbride's deadpan delivery. Kilbride took that comedic device to a high level of perfection.
Ma (Marjorie Main) and Pa move into the new house with modern conveniences that confuse Ma and Pa almost as much as they help them. Ma adapts far more quickly than Pa. Included with the modern conveniences is a television, a very new household item in 1949. Moving walls, hidden beds, and plumbing fixtures are used as comic props, but the attention is on Ma and Pa, never the props themselves.
Tom Kettle (Richard Long) meets Kim Parker (Meg Randall), a magazine writer who feels that hygiene and environment are essential for children to realize success as adults. Tom is a bright, self-made man who contradicts the theory that success can only come from a pristine environment. This subject is briefly discussed in a couple of scenes, but left to subside. It was also the only serious discussion in this otherwise whimsical movie.
Seeing the Kettles moving out of their run-down old house to move to a new house would almost be a disaster if it were not for the characters staying true to themselves. Ma was the practical one, just as she had been in the The Egg and I. Pa was the fish out of water that provided the best comedy. He never felt at home in the new house, but the actual location of a comfortable bed would never be of concern to him.
This was the very first Ma and Pa Kettle film and it is probably the
second ranked film in the series in terms of laughs (just behind Ma and
Pa's trip to Hawaii). This is film definitely has all the elements that
made the series great, boisterous Ma, lazy Pa and their wild brood of
15 (or is it 16?). Marjorie Main and Percy Kilbride were perfectly cast
in this film and made for a classic pairing that and they would become
two of the most enduring characters in all of filmdom. The chemistry
between the two made you actually think they were married and it made
for a great time and made the whole series great.
Also, I often wonder if Paul Henning actually got his ideas for the "Beverly Hillbillies" from this film and not from the hillbillies he saw on his vacations.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
What a couple. Ma(Majorie Main)and Pa(Percy Kilbride)Kettle, they may not remember the names of their fifteen children, but they have what it takes to stay together. Lazy Pa and strong willed Ma seem to live life in a series of situational comedy. When Pa sends off to get a free pouch from a tobacco company, he ends up winning their slogan contest with first prize being a new model prefab home. Before really getting settled in, the town gossip Birdie Hicks(Esther Dale)accuses Pa of plagiarizing his winning slogan. Fun and mayhem for audiences of all ages. Supporting cast includes: Richard Long, Meg Randall, Barry Kelley and Harry Antrim.
While I am sure most people watch the Ma & Pa Kettle films to laugh at
the exploits of the Kettle clan, I have a very different reaction. When
I watch Ma keeping house and fussin' about, it seems like for once I am
seeing my own mother on film! The filthy and dilapidated house sure
reminds me of home! These characters were first introduced in the Fred
MacMurray and Claudette Colbert film "The Egg & I". These supporting
characters were so popular that it resulted in an Oscar nomination for
Marjorie Main and a series of films as well as a TV series!
The film starts with the town council discussing whether or not to condemn the Kettle place. After all, Pa Kettle NEVER does a bit of work and the home has been falling apart all around the Kettles for years. However, before they can take action, the council learns that Pa just won a contest--and a new home is the prize! They hope that maybe the entire annoying brood might just be moving! Their oldest son (Richard Long) looks and acts absolutely nothing like the rest of the family--he's sort of like Marilyn in "The Munsters"!
On the way back home from completing college, he meets a reporter on the train and he lies to her about his fancy rich family. Little does he know that she'll be interviewing his family because of the contest win--and she'll soon see what sort of genteel childhood he really had! Naturally, they soon fall in love.
As for the new house, it's as ultra-modern as you can get in 1949--and some of the stuff even looks pretty space-age today. Unfortunately, the place baffles the Kettles, as there are so many gadgets and do-dads that it's awfully confusing. The juxtaposition of the back-woods Kettles with this streamlined home is obviously supposed to be as extreme as possible and it leads to some funny results--though I would agree with the other reviewer who said the humor is pretty gentle and not laugh-inducing. And, when it comes to this modern home, it reminds me strongly of the Daffy Duck/Elmer Fudd cartoon "Design for Leaving".
All in all, this is an entertaining and slight film. While the film certainly does not fall in the 'must see' category, it is fun and a pleasant little movie that makes you look forward to the next in the series.
By the way, the odd old lady on the train who sits there talking with her dead husband is pretty ironic. I read a while back that Ms. Main herself was famous for talking on the set to her dead husband! In some cases, they'd have to re-shoot scenes because she'd just start having conversations with him out of the blue! Apparently she was a very, very eccentric lady!! Also of interest (and intense speculation) was her relationship with fellow actress Spring Byington.
Ma and Pa Kettle live in a falling down shack with 14 of their 15 kids. Tom, the eldest, is away at college. Ma can't remember all of her kids names, and Pa is extremely lazy. Pa enters a contest to supply a slogan for a tobacco company so he can get a new tobacco pouch. They end up winning the grand prize, a new, modern house with many electronic features. My expectations of this film was that it would have more slapstick elements in it, like Laurel and Hardy or Abbott and Costello, but it doesn't. It has gentle humor, most of it stemming from Pa Kettle's "fish out of water" situations, ie a poor country man living in a house with modern conveniences. This film was OK, but I really didn't laugh out loud too many times. More of a gentle type of humor, it just brought smiles to my face.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The Ma & Pa Kettle characters were highly popular but controversial.
The films that featured them paved the way for television sitcoms that
sought to emulate its winning formula. But in the process, rural people
were increasingly depicted as backwards and dimwitted. Their foibles
were exploited for laughs-- reinforcing stereotypes that over time
seemed to become acceptable.
Betty Macdonald, the Washington-based author who created these characters, may have done more harm than good. On more than one occasion, she makes them the butt of the joke, pointing out their sloppiness and laziness. It is no wonder then that the real life family Macdonald based the Kettles upon, successfully sued-- claiming they had been humiliated by these less-than-flattering portrayals.
Yes, it's comedy and yes, political correctness as we know it today did not exist in the 1940s and 1950s. But Macdonald could have written these characters more sensibly and Universal International could have had its screenwriters show them with more dignity (there's such a thing as good taste).
Marjorie Main and Percy Kilbride proved so popular as characters in The
Egg And I that Universal Pictures gave them their own series. This film
Ma And Pa Kettle was the first of many as the Kettles become cult
figures in red state America of the Truman and Eisenhower years.
Percy Kilbride as Pa Kettle was the role model for Edgar Buchanan in Petticoat Junction as the laziest man alive. Of course with the 15 kids that he and Marjorie Main produced he was good for at least one activity. But we do have to consider that Marjorie gave more of a long term commitment to producing the brood.
Anyway Kilbride does enter contests and this film concerns the fact that he entered a contest slogan and won a brand new house which is all push buttons. His contest win puts their Arkansas town on the map. But it brings more trouble than its worth sometimes.
In other news the oldest Kettle played by Richard Long is back from agricultural college and he's made himself a new and improved incubator for chicken eggs. On the train home he meets Meg Randall who is a writer for a magazine who is covering the Kettles and their new home as a human interest story. It's rough courtship as Randall has to get used to the ways of the Kettles, but she's a good person and a good sport.
As I wrote on another Kettle film review, if you were a big fan of things like Petticoat Junction and Green Acres, the Kettle films were your cup of tea back in the day.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
With the town complaining about the conditions of the Kettles'
ramshackled home, Pa wins a fancy new home complete with modern
trimmings. That's after a stand-off with Ma thinking she's Annie
Oakley. All Pa expected and wanted was the free tobacco pouch. After Ma
carries Pa across the threshold, the fun begins as all these new
fangled inventions cause all sorts of conclusion. This reverses the
plot of the predecessor "The Egg and I" and the results is a fast
moving sequel that is actually a lot more fun than the original and
focuses on the more interesting characters played by Marjorie Main and
Of course, things do go awry, thanks to returning crank Birdie Hicks. But thanks to son Tom and his new lady love, all is fixed with lots of visual comedy along the way, some of the gags are quick unrelated flashes like "Hellzapoppin"' and "Airplane!". There's little in the way of reality here, but the charming way it is presented covers for that. The adorable Ida Moore pops up again as the cute widow who always escapes from her old age home, escorted of course with her invisible husband.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Whoa! This picture had me right from the start when Ma Kettle (Marjorie
Main) shagged that chicken right off the kitchen table in one fell
swoop. Man, the PETA folks would have been all over that scene if they
had been around back in the day. I sure wouldn't want to get in Ma's
way, I'll tell you that.
Well the Kettles were a bit before my time, having grown up with The Beverly Hillbillies and Petticoat Junction, but as a forerunner to those TV programs they were a hoot and a holler, or is that a hoot in a holler. Pa Kettle (Percy Kilbride) wrote the book on getting away with the least possible expenditure of energy necessary to get through the day, and it wasn't long before I began wondering how he managed to have fifteen kids with Ma. I guess she must have done most of the work.
And I'll be darned, the film makers managed to get fourteen of the kids, minus college graduate Tom (Robert Long), all in one scene together when they were unloading the truck at their new digs. You know, the old Kettle homestead was supposedly a dilapidated shack but it didn't even come close to approaching the ramshackle building Bob Hope and Ann Sheridan bought in "George Washington Slept Here". For them, the Kettle place would have been a step up.
Well as time goes by pictures like this become more and more anachronistic, but for us old timers they're a nice reminder of times gone by when things were a lot simpler. However for 1949 I couldn't relate to automated folding beds in the wall and pop out sink faucets. And wait a minute now, but if they had those big flat screen TV's way back then, how come it took me sixty more years to get one?
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