Family film...innocuous and yet with something to offend everybody
Suburban youngster schemes to keep a stray hound. Silly adaptation of a Booth Tarkington novel was probably a decent-enough matinée item for 1940, but time has not been kind to the picture, what with a mother who acts like a cold-hearted villainess and both black and Italian caricatures so over-the-top they are positively gruesome. John Sheffield (née Johnny), Boy from the "Tarzan" flicks, has more lines here than he ever spoke on film before; he's a cute, if somewhat inexpressive and monotone youngster, but Ernest Truex and Dorothy Tree are totally inappropriate as his parents. Truex looks like Sheffield's grandfather and Tree's father, while Dorothy snaps at and orders everyone around like an R.K.O. version of Joan Crawford. There's some funny slapstick business at the beginning, and the pathos near the finish are carried off well (thanks to Sheffield), however the subplot involving a cook and a tippling gardener is excruciating. *1/2 from ****
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