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What a Life (1939)

Approved | | Comedy, Drama | 6 October 1939 (USA)
In the first Henry Aldrich film, Henry (Jackie Cooper) is falsely accused of making trouble at school. He must clear himself.


Theodore Reed (as Jay Theodore Reed)


Charles Brackett (screenplay), Billy Wilder (screenplay) | 1 more credit »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Jackie Cooper ... Henry Aldrich
Betty Field ... Barbara Pearson
John Howard ... Mr. Nelson
Janice Logan ... Miss Shea
Vaughan Glaser Vaughan Glaser ... J.C. Bradley
Lionel Stander ... Ferguson
Hedda Hopper ... Mrs. Aldrich
James Corner ... George Bigelow
Dorothy Stickney ... Miss Wheeler
Kathleen Lockhart ... Miss Pike
Lucien Littlefield ... Mr. Patterson
Sidney Miller ... Pinkie Peters
Andrew Tombes ... Professor Abernathy
George Guhl ... Janitor
Arthur Aylesworth ... MacGowan


In the first Henry Aldrich film, Henry (Jackie Cooper) is falsely accused of making trouble at school. He must clear himself.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Poor HENRY ALDRICH -No matter what happens...he gets the blame! (Print Ad- Fort Dodge Messenger-Chronicle, ((Fort Dodge Iowa)) 27 March 1940)


Comedy | Drama


Approved | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


What A Life opened at the Biltmore Theater on April 13, 1938 and ran for 538 performances. See more »


Followed by Henry Aldrich, Editor (1942) See more »

User Reviews

What a Life was the first film version of Henry Aldrich, played here by Jackie Cooper
17 January 2015 | by tavmSee all my reviews

If you've read under my username for the past several months, you know I've been reviewing most of the Our Gang film entries in chronological order as well as separate features and shorts that have individual members in them the same way in between those entries. So it is that I'm now reviewing former member Jackie Cooper-a teen by this point-playing someone close to his age as a high school student named Henry Aldrich. He's an average student who gets pranked on by sports-lettered guy George Bigelow (James Corner) and crushed on by a fellow student named Barbara Pearson (Betty Field) who's initially shy with braces before getting a transformation. Adapted from Clifford Goldsmith's play by Charles Brackett & Billy Wilder (yes, you read that right), What a Life is both funny and quite touching if a little exaggerated in some of the situations. So on that note, that's a recommendation. P.S. One of the teen girls was played by a Janet Waldo, perhaps best known as the voice of eternal teen Judy Jetson on "The Jetsons".

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Release Date:

6 October 1939 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

What a Life See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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