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Kentucky Kernels (1934)

Approved | | Comedy, Musical | 2 November 1934 (USA)
The Great Elmer and Company, two out-of-work magicians, help lovelorn Jerry Bronson adopt Spanky Milford, to distract him. When Bronson makes up and elopes, the pair are stuck with the ... See full summary »

Director:

George Stevens

Writers:

Bert Kalmar (screen play), Harry Ruby (screen play) | 3 more credits »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Bert Wheeler ... Willie
Robert Woolsey ... Elmer
Mary Carlisle ... Gloria
George 'Spanky' McFarland ... Spanky (as 'Spanky' McFarland)
Noah Beery ... Colonel Wakefield
Lucille La Verne ... Aunt Hannah (as Lucille LaVerne)
Willie Best ... Buckshot (as Sleep 'n' Eat)
Margaret Dumont ... Mrs. Baxter
Louis Mason ... Judge Ezra
Paul Page ... Jerry Bronson
Frank McGlynn Jr. ... Jeff Wakefield
Richard Alexander ... Hank Wakefield
William Pawley ... John Wakefield
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Storyline

The Great Elmer and Company, two out-of-work magicians, help lovelorn Jerry Bronson adopt Spanky Milford, to distract him. When Bronson makes up and elopes, the pair are stuck with the little boy. But Spanky inherits a Kentucky fortune, so they head south to Banesville, where the Milfords and Wakefields are conducting a bitter feud. Written by Diana Hamilton <hamilton@gl.umbc.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

They've picked up the cash; the question is will they live long enough to spend it? See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Musical

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

2 November 1934 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Dos y medio See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Victor System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Connections

Referenced in The Our Gang Story (1994) See more »

Soundtracks

Supper Song
(1934) (uncredited)
Written by Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby
Performed by Bert Wheeler and Robert Woolsey at the supper
See more »

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User Reviews

Interesting Time Capsule of a Film With a Little Rascal
22 April 2005 | by CraigHamrickSee all my reviews

If you only know the little bruiser Spanky McFarland from his Litlte Rascals, this movie casts some light on why he was considered one of the best child actors of his generation. As an adorable little tyke with a penchant for breaking glass, he drives the movie's Kentucky feud storyline. He even signs a love song "One Little Kiss," to his best pal -- a cute dog, and one of the male leads sings a few lines to a donkey (It's that kind of movie).

Kentucky Kernels is notable for showing what was considered funny -- and in some cases, socially acceptable -- in 1934. An actor credited as "Sleep n Eat" (actually Willie Best) shuffles his way through the film as a stereotypical wide-eyed, scared-of-his-shadow servant. And a gay subtext between the two male leads is watered down by some forced and unconvincing romance with a typical blonde Southern belle, but lots of the movie's humor is derived from the male/male "romance." In their first scene, for example, Bert Wheeler and Robert Woolsey are the picture of domestic bliss -- bickering as one sits at the dinner table while the other does dishes and complains about his dishpan hands. Though they mince their ways through the rest of the movie, even holding hands at times, the characters are presented as heterosexual. At another point, they're shown sleeping in the same bed -- in a plantation mansion that surely had plenty of bedrooms.

The plot, with the boys finding themselves in the middle of a Hatfileds and McCoys-style Kentucy feud, is a bit contrived. Lines like "You dance exactly like a heifer -- I mean a zephyr!" seem lifted from the Marx Brothers, and in fact one of the supporting players is best known for her appearances as the straight woman in some Marx classics. Margaret Dumont plays the manager of an adoption agency that places young Spanky, indirectly, in the care of the vaudeville performers played by Wheeler and Woolsey. It's a shame Dumont wasn't given a more substantial part; she would have been terrific as a befuddled Southern matriarch later in the film.

The paper-thin plot won't really hold your attention, but viewed as a "film history" lesson, it's worth watching. Director George Stevens went on to much bigger and better things (including the enormous classic, Giant, also set in the South), so it's interesting to see how he handled this dull script.


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