This story began way back at the turn of the century as a novel by Alice Hegan Rice. It was then adapted for the stage by Anne Crawford Flexner in 1904, made as a silent in 1919, and then became a film in 1934. The 1942 remake was a disappointment. Produced by silent screen star Douglas
MacLean, this version was, by far, the best of the lot, mostly due to the presence of two superior farceurs, Fields and Pitts. Lord lives in a shantytown shack with her quintet of children, Butler, Fellows, Johnson, Weidler, and Breakston (check the cast names for her daughters) and their dog.
Butler finds an old horse that's about to be put to pasture (or to sleep) and the animal is immediately adopted by the kind family. It's Thanksgiving and they are offering their prayers for the meager meal of stew which the good Lord has bestowed upon them. Venable, a wealthy young lass who lives
in one of the town's mansions, arrives with a proper Thanksgiving meal and the family has their neighbor, Pitts, join them. Despite the abject poverty of the "Cabbage Patch" in which they live, there is an almost Dickens-like hope about the inhabitants. The only sad note is that Lord's husband
disappeared several years before and no one has been able to locate him since. On the surface, Venable seems to have everything going for her, but even the rich have problems. Her fiance, Taylor, arrives. He is a handsome, young newspaperman and he and Venable are having a premarital spat. While
at the house, Taylor hears Breakston's hacking cough and realizes that the boy needs medical care at a hospital. The boy is sent to be cured and the other brother, Butler, is now the main support of the family. With the old horse tethered to a wagon, he sells firewood to people in the area and
makes enough money to support the clan. In lieu of money on one delivery, he trades the wood for five tickets to a show. Lord and the kids go to the theater and are having a grand time when she is called to the hospital where Breakton perishes in her presence as she arrives. That kind of loss
would lay any family low, but this group is made of tougher stuff and takes it in stride. Pitts, who is only a friend but has been accepted into the family as a member, is a spinster, and Lord is determined to find her a husband, so enter Fields. Pitts and Fields are hilarious in their passionate
wooing, and he agrees to take her hand, but only after sampling her cooking. Pitts cooks about as well as horses ride motorcycles, so Lord whips up a few dishes and Fields tastes them, pronounces them scrumptious, and the marriage is on. Meanwhile, Venable and Taylor want to do something special
for the family and invest a few bucks to place ads in newspapers across the U.S. in order to find Lord's missing husband. At the same time, the villain who holds the mortgage on the house, Middleton, is about to foreclose. Now Lord's husband, the missing Meek, returns home. He's just as muddled
and tacky as he was the day he left. His seedy appearance shatters Lord's hopes for getting the $25 needed to pay the mortgage; then she goes through the pockets of his threadbare suit and miraculously finds the money there. The mortgage is paid and the family all turn out for the marriage of
Taylor and Venable. It's essentially a very old-fashioned drama, but the comedy between Fields and Pitts, which occurs in the second half of the film, is worth the wait. Lord never falls into the bathetic as Mrs. Wiggs and manages to keep her kids together with spice and humor. Lots of tears, lots
of laughs, and a good feeling at the end of the film. A sequel, LOVEY MARY, was made to the silent version by MGM in 1926.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: This story began way back at the turn of the century as a novel by Alice Hegan Rice. It was then adapted for the stage by Anne Crawford Flexner in 1904, made as a silent in 1919, and then became a film in 1934. The 1942 remake was a disappointment. Produce… (more)