|Index||4 reviews in total|
BEWARE OF BLONDIE (Columbia, 1950), directed by Edward Bernds, finishes
the popular sit-com film series starring its original leads of Penny
Singleton and Arthur Lake as Chic Young's comic strip couple of Blondie
and Dagwood Bumstead, the roles they originated in 1938. The character
of Dagwood's employer, Mr. Dithers, returns, but instead of Jonathan
Hale, who had played the irritable boss from 1938 to 1946, he is
portrayed this time by Edward Earle, whose is seen briefly seated with
focus of the back of his head.
In the 28th chapter, the story opens at the Bumstead household with the family gathered together in the living room with children Alexander (Larry Simms) doing his homework and Cookie (Marjorie Kent) playing the piano, before heading for bed. Dagwood (Arthur Lake) suddenly remembers that he has to fill out his income tax form, and finds himself working on it all night while the family is asleep. Spouse Blondie (Penny Singleton), who has noticed that Dagwood hasn't slept in his bed all night, comes downstairs to find him asleep at his desk. She then gets him to finish his sleep in bed. Easier said than done when Dagwood finds his sleep with constant interruptions, including the sanitation men picking up the early morning trash and making noise banging the tin garbage cans. As Dagwood yells out the window for quiet, he disturbs the neighbors, Herb and Harriet Woodley (Emory Parnell and Isabel Withers). As he returns to bed his alarm clock goes off, indicating that it's time to get up and get ready for work. Dagwood arrives at the office exhausted, falling asleep in the elevator and taking numerous up and down trips before he is retrieved by employee Ollie (Jack Rice), who, along with the others in the staff, in need of the key to get into the office. Afterwards, Dagwood encounters Toby Clifton (Adele Jergens), an attractive blonde client who happens to be a swindler. In order to get the company bonds, she stages to have her husband, Adolph (Douglas Fowley) arrive at the scene in her apartment in a jealous rage and accusing Dagwood to be his wife's lover. After Dagwood does give Toby the company bonds, he learns later on that he had been swindled. Dooped again and feeling guilty, he starts having nightmares and dreams of himself being caught, put on trial, found guilty and sentenced to serve time on a chain gang. An amusing moment finds Dagwood struggling to make his escape with a giant iron ball and chain around his leg as he is pursued by a comic guard and his dog. But will Dagwood's nightmares continue? What will really happen to him when Mr. Dithers learns what Dagwood has done with the company bonds? Will Blondie be able to get him out of another mess?
For the last time in the series viewers will get a glimpse of watching the Bumstead children, Alexander, formerly "Baby Dumpling", as played by Larry Simms, now a teen-aged high schooler; Danny Mummert appearing briefly as Alexander's best friend and know-it-all, Alvin Fuddow; Daisy, the Bumstead pooch and her pups; and Marjorie Kent as the youngest member of the Bumstead clan, Cookie; all making final screen appearances after many years in their character parts. Alyn Lockwood returns once more as Mary, the switchboard girl of the Dithers Construction Company. Dick Wessel as the neighborhood postman who always becomes part of the running gag as he constantly gets knocked down by Dagwood as he races out of the house to catch his bus to work, first played by Irving Bacon and later Eddie Acuff, comes upon a great idea in this segment by delivering the mail to the Bumsteads around midnight. But even that doesn't work, for that Dagwood, realizing that he has to get his income tax mailed out before the midnight deadline, races out of the house only to run into the postman for the last time on screen. The postman, realizing that he is fighting a losing battle, runs into the night with Dagwood yelling at him to stop and take the letter back with him. While the neighbors, the Woodleys, have appeared in many of the Blondie comic strips throughout the years, this became the only time in the series in which they are mentioned and seen.
Although a weak production in which the central actors, Singleton and Lake, seem to appear bored with their roles, especially in the way they speak to one another in the early portion of the story, they do manage to rise above the predictable script and situations by producing new quota of laughs with old time worn material.
Years after the finish of the movie series, "Blondie" and the Bumsteads would return in two separate but short-lived television sit-coms: 1957 with Pamela Britton as Blondie and Arthur Lake as Dagwood; 1968 starring Patricia Harty as Blondie and Will Hutchins as Dagwood, with Jim Backus perfectly cast as Mr. J.C. Dithers. As the long running film series (1938-1950) emerged on television in the early 1970s, it reintroduced itself to its former audience as well as finding a new generation of viewers who finally get to see the syndicated comic strip characters come to life.
BEWARE OF BLONDIE is available on video cassette (with new opening and introduction with a sing-along theme song), and had enjoyed frequent revivals, many with the original opening and closing credits restored, on American Movie Classics from 1996 to 2001. (**)
This is the twenty-eighth and final entry in the Blondie movie series.
It's revealed that Dagwood is once again working for the J.C. Dithers
Construction Company as if Dithers selling to Radcliffe had never
happened. Anyway, Mr. Dithers (played from behind only by Edward Earle
this time) is off and Mr. Bumstead takes his place. He's supposed to
sign a contract for a certain client who may or not be a certain female
(Adele Jergens making another appearance in the series after Blondie's
Anniversary) he goes to lunch with. I'll stop there and just say this
was quite a funny way to end the series especially with the final ways
Dag keeps bumping into the mailman (Dick Wessel)! Oh, and while Blondie
had talked to one of the Woodleys on the phone in earlier entries, this
was the only time her neighbors actually appeared in the form of
Herbert and Harriet (Emory Parnell and Isobel Withers). Now here's what
happened to the rest of the cast post-series: Dick Wessel died on April
20, 1965 before his final movie-The Ugly Dauchshund-was released.
Jack Rice (Ollie Merton) continued in film and TV until 1963 when he last appeared in Son of Flubber. He died on December 14, 1968.
Alyn Lockwood (Mary) last appeared on an ep of "Border Patrol" in 1959. She passed on July 11, 2007.
Larry Simms (Baby Dumpling a.k.a Alexander) eventually joined the Navy, became an engineer, and eventually retired in Thailand with a wife there. He passed on June 17, 2009.
Danny Mummert (Alvin Fuddle) switched to behind-the-scenes work on TV and film after 1956. He eventually married four times. His life post-Blondie became so tragic, he took himself out permanently on August 10, 1974.
Marjorie Ann Mutchie (Kent) who played Cookie, has disappeared from public view post-series. Even after every attempt to trace her. Presumably still alive as of this writing.
Edward Bernds, who was already also directing Three Stooges shorts, would eventually also helm a couple of Columbia's replacement series entries of The Gasoline Alley-before then doing some Bowery Boys entries. He'd then do a couple of Stooges features and their live-action wraparounds on their cartoon series "The New 3 Stooges" before retiring. He died on May 20, 2000.
After the movie series ended, Arthur Lake continued to play Dagwood on radio until that ended on July 6, 1950. Penny Singleton no longer played Blondie there as the role was taken over by Ann Rutherford with Arthur's wife, Patricia also taking turns in that one. He'd also play him in a subsequent TV show late in the '50s of which I'll review an ep soon.
Ms. Singleton would voice Jane Jetson first in the early '60s, then the '80s on the animated TV show "The Jetsons". She'd make few on screen appearances by then. I'll review both leading players fates when I get to reviews of those final appearances...
I loved the Blondie and Dagwood so much that I bought a collection of
all 28 films. However, I must say that the final three were HUGE
disappointments...films that would have been best never to have been
made in the first place. The films had terrible plots and seemed to
indicate that the writers simply ran out of ideas. In "Beware of
Blondie" the plot isn't just bad...this final movie in the series just
makes no sense at all.
When the story begins, you hear that Dagwood is in charge of the office while Mr. Dithers is away on business! This is a huge problem since in an earlier film, Dithers sold the business to Mr. Radcliff. Now, with no explanation, Dithers is back in control but you only see a tiny bit of him late in the film...and it's NOT the same actor who played him in about half the Blondie films, though they cheaply tried to hide it by only showing the back of his head! Why say Dithers was the boss? Why use another actor? My bet is that this script was an old rejected once they dusted off...and they never even thought to change the name to Radcliffe! Regardless, it was confusing.
With Dithers(?) gone and Dagwood in charge, his main goal is to sign a new client, Toby Clifton (Adele Jurgens). However, she seems mostly interested in jumping Dagwood's bones...which means she's either insane, blind or has some crooked scheme up her pretty sleeves. In the meantime, folks begin talking about Dagwood hanging out with this pretty blonde! Naturally, the two-faced Ollie is doing his share of the gossip! So what's next? See the film...or not.
Had this episode been made a few years earlier, when Dithers was played by Jonathan Hale AND before the company was sold, it would have worked much better. Instead, it appears as if whoever wrote the script had a head injury, as it just made little sense. There also appears to be a lot of padding in this film as well...such as the incredibly long dream sequence near the end of the movie. Overall, not very good but at least it was better than the prior two simply awful films in the franchise.
The Blondie film series came to an end with Beware Of Blondie. Kind of
a misleading title as the only one who should fear Blondie is Dagwood
when he's done something stupid.
Apparently J.C. Dithers has decided to re-enter the construction business and is once again Dagwood's boss, this time played briefly by Edward Earle. Apparently Dithers is in his dotage because he's forgotten what a klutz Dagwood could be as Dithers leaves him in charge of the office including fiduciary responsibility for the company's funds in his absence.
Truth be told Arthur Lake doesn't have a chance as one of Columbia Pictures newest sex symbols Adele Jergens sets Dagwood up with the old badger game. Douglas Fowley shows up as the husband with the alienated affections and Dagwood writes out a check to Jergens to save her from a horrible beating.
Another piece of serendipity saves Dagwood and his job, but the Blondie series was over. Penny Singleton got into some blacklist problems and did not work for 12 years.
The series goes out on a so-so note, but the Bumsteads legion of fans should be happy.
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