Wednesday, February 25, 2004

“Aye grannies, Abner…I b’lieve that’s our ring…”

I recently ordered a pair of DVDs from Critic’s Choice Video and received them in the mail yesterday—Lum and Abner Double Features #1 and #2. #1 contains the first two films starring the boys from Pine Ridge, Dreaming Out Loud (1940) and The Bashful Bachelor (1942), while #2 has Two Weeks to Live and So This is Washington, both from 1943. Of these four films, I’ve only seen one (Washington), so I put the first one on out of curiosity.

The running time of the original release of Dreaming Out Loud is apparently 81 minutes, but the version on the DVD clocks in at 1:05, which probably explains why I had difficulty following the story—there are more than a few continuity jumps present. The plot involves Lum and Abner’s attempts to obtain a mobile first-aid unit for the people of Pine Ridge after the town doctor suffers a debilitating stroke which leaves him wheelchair-bound. There’s also two subplots, one of which involves the reformation of the town drunkard after his daughter is hit and killed by a speeding car, the other being a romance between the town doctor’s son (also an MD) and the postmistress (played by lovely Francis Langford, who sings the title tune).

This movie really wasn’t any great shakes, but since I’m such a big L&A fan I definitely enjoyed it. Of the familiar characters from the show, only Caleb Weehunt is present and accounted for, played by veteran character actor Robert “Bob” McKenzie (a frequent supporting player in many of Andy Clyde’s Columbia two-reelers, like Love Comes to Mooneyville and Stuck in the Sticks). Phil Harris has an all-too brief appearance as a salesman who cons the Jot ‘Em Down Store proprietors into buying some bath salts, and there are also fine performances from the likes of Frank Craven, Clara Blandick, and Irving Bacon.

The only disappointment I had with this DVD is that it says “digitally restored” on the cover when that is clearly not the case. Why do people think that if you just stick an old movie on a DVD it automatically qualifies that title as being “restored”? Ish.

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