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

Thursday, January 23, 2014

EVERY SATURDAY NIGHT

Jack (Kenneth Howell) gets advice from his granny (Florence Roberts)
















EVERY SATURDAY NIGHT (1936). Director: James Tinling.

When 20th Century-Fox came out with this adaptation of the stage play about a warm and loving family with their share of minor disagreements, they probably had no idea it would make enough money to engender no less than sixteen sequels! That means that there was one more entry in [what became] the Jones Family series than in MGM's Andy Hardy/Hardy Family series (even when you count the much-later Andy Hardy Comes Home and don't count a couple of Andy Hardy shorts), which began with A Family Affair (also from a play) the year after Every Saturday Night debuted. Ironically, the Jones Family series is pretty much completely forgotten, while everyone has heard of Andy Hardy, probably thanks to the irrepressible Mickey Rooney. In Every Saturday Night the name of the family is actually Evers, but it was changed for subsequent entries, although when the film was re-released as a "Jones Family" feature the "Evers" name wasn't over-dubbed. Evers/Jones (Jed Prouty) is a small-town pharmacist who, as his mother (Florence Roberts) tells him, raises his children as if it were twenty years earlier, and forgets the trouble he got into himself when he was a boy. His oldest daughter, Bonnie (June Lang) is dating a guy named Clark (Thomas Beck) who drives drunk and nearly kills a girl. The younger daughter, Lucy (June Carlson) wants to be an actress and is always imitating Hepburn, Garbo or someone else. Oldest son Jack (Ken Howell) gets in hot water when he takes Dad's car without permission, and borrows money from his serious younger brother Roger (George Ernest) at high interest. Then there's a near-crisis when little Bobby (Billy Mahan) gets a serious cut. Mrs. Evers (Spring Byington) is wise enough to know when to intercede and when to keep quiet. Every Saturday Night is certainly not a masterpiece, but it is surprisingly touching at times in its warmth and honest sentiment, and the obvious love these characters feel for one another is almost palpable, thanks to very adept performances by the entire cast.

Verdict: A lost bit of Hollywood history. **1/2.

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