Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

THE "CRAPTASTIC" BETTY HUTTON SHOW

Dennis Olivieri and Betty Hutton
THE BETTY HUTTON SHOW (1959 - 1960).

When I first came across this sitcom that I never heard of on the Internet Archives -- a site that lists thousands of public domain TV shows, films, radio broadcasts and more for free watching or downloading -- my attention was caught by the term "CRAPTASTIC" -- the term with which the person who uploaded the show onto the site labeled the series, meaning it was bad, bad, bad. How bad is The Betty Hutton Show? I just had to find out, wouldn't you know? Judging by the three episodes available for viewing, it was pretty bad. In other words: Craptastic! Hutton plays Goldie Appleby, a manicurist who becomes guardian of three park avenue children. Their lawyer is played by Tom Conway [George Sanders' less interesting brother], who had a long, long list of mostly B movie credits. The teenage girl is played by child star Gigi Perreau [Journey to the Center of Time], and the boys by Peter Miles and Dennis Olivieri, who is a very talented boy and easily out-acts almost everyone on the show, including Hutton, who is generally terrible. Norma Varden [Witness for the Prosecution] plays Goldie's aunt, and is also vastly superior to Hutton. [Peter Miles was the brother of Perreau and appeared with her in Roseanna McCoy, in which he was excellent.]

In one episode a bosomy client of Conway's sets her cap for the lawyer, so Goldie concocts a dumb story about his having a wife and children. In another Goldie encourages Perreau to take up painting, and a misunderstanding develops when she overhears the girl and a boy friend acting out parts in a play. The third, and most watchable episode, has Goldie dealing with two con artists who try to con her out of money allegedly for an orphanage [they are very well played by Robert Emhardt and Ellen Corby]. This last episode at least has a couple of minor chuckles.

Unfortunately, the others are almost unwatchable. Hutton -- and I admit she was never one of my favorites -- is at her most over-bearing worst, shamelessly mugging, obvious and vulgar, and even seems drunk at times. Unlike Lucille Ball, Joan Davis and even Eve Arden, she has no real skill as a comedienne, but simply lumbers about trying desperately to get laughs.

Betty Hutton, producer, should have fired Betty Hutton, star. The show lasted only one season.

Verdict: Definitely "craptastic!" *. 

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