Playhouse 90's 1957 adaptation of that comedic chestnut from the 1890's stands up well against Jack Benny's 1941 film even with its revisions.
Art Carney's portrayal of "Fanny" Babberley rather than "Babbs" Babberley as in the Benny classic film is quite good even if it does add a shtick reminiscent of Carney's portrayal of Ed Norton on The Honeymooners and includes several musical numbers to showcase Carney's vocal prowess that had already become a footnote by 1957.
Richard Hayden, the Charley of the 1941 film, becomes the avaricious guardian in this live TV adaptation. Edmund Gwenn was superb in the 1941 film, and Hayden, complete with his most nasal voice, admirably holds his own in this Playhouse 90 production. Jackie Coogan as the Oxford coach also holds his own.
For a live TV production from the Golden Age, this 1957 Playhous 90 production of Charley's Aunt holds up admirably against the more polished 1941 film.
Gene Raymond, Miss MacDonald's husband and one of this production's two "guest stars" gives a yeoman performance but one that is no match for Laird Cregar's in the 1941 film.
Jeannette MacDonald, the real Dona Lucia D'Alvadores, appears on screen even less than Kay Francis did in the 1941 film, but she still gives a memorable performance.
The storyline is altered so that Dona Lucia instead of professing love for Lord Babberley suddenly becomes Sir Francis's old flame and they pledge undying love and become engaged when he thinks she is a penniless widow rather than a millionaire from Brazil, where the nuts come from. I can only assume this was done because MacDonald and Raymond were man and wife in real life and had little opportunity to play opposite each other on screen.
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