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Ma and Pa Kettle (1949)

G | | Comedy | 1 April 1949 (USA)
On the verge of being evicted from their run-down farmhouse, the large Kettle family is given a new, modern home after Pa wins a contest, but he is accused of plagiarizing his winning slogan by a jealous local woman.


Charles Lamont


Al Lewis, Betty MacDonald (characters) | 2 more credits »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Marjorie Main ... Ma Kettle
Percy Kilbride ... Pa Kettle
Richard Long ... Tom Kettle
Meg Randall ... Kim Parker
Patricia Alphin ... Secretary
Esther Dale ... Mrs. Birdie Hicks
Barry Kelley ... Mr. Victor Tomkins
Harry Antrim ... Mayor Dwiggins
Isabel O'Madigan Isabel O'Madigan ... Mrs. Hicks' Mother
Ida Moore ... Emily
Emory Parnell ... Bill Reed
Boyd Davis Boyd Davis ... Mr. Simpson
O.Z. Whitehead ... Mr. Billings
Ray Bennett ... Sam Rogers
Alvin Hammer ... Alvin


The Kettles and their fifteen children are about to be evicted from their rundown rustic home when Pa wins the grand prize by coming up with a new tobacco slogan. Birdie Hicks is jealous of the family's new wealth, which includes a completely automated modern home, and accuses Pa of stealing the slogan. Reporter Kim Parker proves Birdie wrong and marries Tom Kettle. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


It's Loaded . . . with new laffs !!! All Your Favorites fresh from "The Egg And I" ! See more »




G | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


One of the modern paintings hanging in the Kettles' new home, is by Fernand Léger, whose work had focused on the machine age the alienation of the individual as he became a consumer. See more »


When Ma puts the kids to bed, you can see the covers are rumpled. Then, when she attempts to turn off the lights, she hits the switch to put away the beds. When the beds come back down, you can see 3 of the 4 beds are neatly made and there are dolls instead of kids. When you see them in the next shot, they are as they were before they went into the wall. See more »


Mrs. Birdie Hicks: [after getting the Kettles evicted] Good day.
Ma Kettle: [grabs Birdie] Listen here Birdie, it may be a good day for you, but it ain't for Pa. All the poor man wanted was a new tobacco pouch and instead he won a house he didn't want and he got a bad sunburn.
See more »


Referenced in Married... with Children: Magnificent Seven (1992) See more »

User Reviews

Finally---a movie mom who seems like mine!
3 July 2010 | by MartinHaferSee all my reviews

While I am sure most people watch the Ma & Pa Kettle films to laugh at the exploits of the Kettle clan, I have a very different reaction. When I watch Ma keeping house and fussin' about, it seems like for once I am seeing my own mother on film! The filthy and dilapidated house sure reminds me of home! These characters were first introduced in the Fred MacMurray and Claudette Colbert film "The Egg & I". These supporting characters were so popular that it resulted in an Oscar nomination for Marjorie Main and a series of films as well as a TV series!

The film starts with the town council discussing whether or not to condemn the Kettle place. After all, Pa Kettle NEVER does a bit of work and the home has been falling apart all around the Kettles for years. However, before they can take action, the council learns that Pa just won a contest--and a new home is the prize! They hope that maybe the entire annoying brood might just be moving! Their oldest son (Richard Long) looks and acts absolutely nothing like the rest of the family--he's sort of like Marilyn in "The Munsters"!

On the way back home from completing college, he meets a reporter on the train and he lies to her about his fancy rich family. Little does he know that she'll be interviewing his family because of the contest win--and she'll soon see what sort of genteel childhood he really had! Naturally, they soon fall in love.

As for the new house, it's as ultra-modern as you can get in 1949--and some of the stuff even looks pretty space-age today. Unfortunately, the place baffles the Kettles, as there are so many gadgets and do-dads that it's awfully confusing. The juxtaposition of the back-woods Kettles with this streamlined home is obviously supposed to be as extreme as possible and it leads to some funny results--though I would agree with the other reviewer who said the humor is pretty gentle and not laugh-inducing. And, when it comes to this modern home, it reminds me strongly of the Daffy Duck/Elmer Fudd cartoon "Design for Leaving".

All in all, this is an entertaining and slight film. While the film certainly does not fall in the 'must see' category, it is fun and a pleasant little movie that makes you look forward to the next in the series.

By the way, the odd old lady on the train who sits there talking with her dead husband is pretty ironic. I read a while back that Ms. Main herself was famous for talking on the set to her dead husband! In some cases, they'd have to re-shoot scenes because she'd just start having conversations with him out of the blue! Apparently she was a very, very eccentric lady!! Also of interest (and intense speculation) was her relationship with fellow actress Spring Byington.

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Official Sites:

Ma and Pa Kettle Page





Release Date:

1 April 1949 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Ma and Pa Kettle See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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