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

Thursday, May 24, 2012

LI'L ABNER (1940)

Pansy washes Pappy and Salome the pig together
LI'L ABNER (1940). Director: Albert S. Rogell.

"Pappy, you are the most ignoramus creature I ever did see!"

"That's the code of the hills!"

In the hillbilly mountain village of Dogpatch, Li'l Abner Yokum (Jeff York aka Granville Owen) tries to avoid the clutches of the gal who loves him, Daisy Mae (Martha O'Driscoll of Henry Aldrich for President). But when Abner mistakenly thinks he's got one day to live, he decides to get engaged, but there are complications. Wendy Wilecat (Kay Sutton) also has her eyes on him, and he wants no part of weddin' anybody once he realizes he isn't really doomed. So his fate will be decided on Sadie Hawkins day, when the two gals will race to see who can land him first. Both his Mammy, Pansy Yokum (Mona Ray), and Pappy, Lucifer Yokum (Johnnie Morris), do their best to help their boy behind the scenes. Jeff York certainly resembles the beautiful-but-dumb Abner, and he isn't bad in the part, although it could be argued that he's not exactly a skilled comic actor. [That same year he played Pat Ryan in the serial Terry and the Pirates, and did a lot of TV work thereafter.] Billie Seward is fine as Daisy's cousin, the sexy "Delightful," and Maude Ebern is as fun as ever as Daisy's Granny Scraggs. Buster Keaton has a small role as the Indian Lonesome Polecat. The movie has some amusing scenes, such as a bath Pansy gives to Pappy and their pig Salome at the same time, and there's a tiny little bit of suspense during the Sadie Hawkins Day race, but all in all this isn't a very memorable movie. Al Capp's Li'l Abner was again made into a film 19 years later and if memory serves me well it wasn't all that much better. 

Verdict: Love that pig! **.

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