BRINGING UP FATHER (1946)

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Richard M Roberts
Godfather
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BRINGING UP FATHER (1946)

Postby Richard M Roberts » Thu Jun 04, 2009 2:56 pm

Last night, at our weekly movie night, we ran the 1946 Monogram film BRINGING UP FATHER, the first installment in the Jiggs and Maggie series the Studio released in the late forties based on the George McManus comic strip. We weren’t expecting much, but suffice to say we were all happily surprised by what a pleasant and enjoyable picture it was. We knew that Comedy Film Industry Veteran Eddie Cline had finished his directing career helming and writing these films, and had always figured them to be tired hackwork as his career wound down. To the contrary, Cline obviously spent some time putting together a film chocked full of great comedy players that really retained the feel of McManus’s work, even co-writing one of the songs in the picture. The film has a easy-going, but well-paced flow to it, with each member of its seasoned comedy cast getting a nice showcasing gag or two.

And what a great ensemble cast: Tim Ryan as Dinty Moore, Fred Kelsey as the silent bartender, Jimmy Aubrey in one of his largest talkie roles, Jack Norton, Tom Kennedy, Kit Guard, Stanley Blystone, Tiny Lipson, Tom Dugan, and Pat Goldin in a silent part Cline had obviously designed for his old pal Buster Keaton (probably Monogram didn’t want to spend the extra bucks for him), even George McManus himself in a running gag that nicely wraps up the picture. Everyone gets into the Irish spirit of the thing.

And the leads are also perfectly cast: Joe Yule Sr. as Jiggs showing us that his Son Mickey Rooney has indeed aged into a carbon-copy of his Dad (in fact, fluff up what’s left of Rooney’s hairline and he could do a whole new Jiggs and Maggie series). Yule has the presence and timing of the old vaudevillian that he was, without his son’s manic, scene-devouring energy, and after numerous bit roles, Yule finally got the chance to shine in this series before his death in 1950, Renee Riano is also a fun and lively Maggie, rolling pin in constant Jiggs-controlling tow, nice to see her in a comic lead after seeing her in so many biddie-roles in television in the fifties and sixties. Even the juveniles are nicely done, especially William Frambes, whose well-weasely in his part as Junior Kernishaw, the son of the wealthy Kernishaw clan vying for the hand of Jiggs daughter while scheming to close the beloved Dinty Moore Tavern.

We’ll run anything at our weekly Movie Nights, but it’s nice to be surprised once-in-awhile when something turns out to be more than expected. The Jiggs and Maggie comedies continued apace with a lot of the same cast until the end of the decade and I might just make the effort to seek out more. I definitely say this first effort is worth checking out.

RICHARD M ROBERTS

Brent Walker
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Re: BRINGING UP FATHER (1946)

Postby Brent Walker » Mon Jun 08, 2009 8:15 pm

Richard, thanks for the review. I'm going to have to check out one of the Jiggs and Maggies as I haven't seen any. I'm also still waiting to see my first Walter Catlett/Raymond Walburn "Henry the Rainmaker" series film among the other Monogram comedy series.

I have seen a couple of the "Joe Palooka" films, including HUMPHREY TAKES A CHANCE, which puts the spotlight on Robert "Sooky" Coogan as the title character, more than Leon Errol or Joe Kirkwood (who played Knobby Walsh and Joe Palooka respectively). This is the one that features Chester Conklin, Heinie Conklin, Hank Mann and Clarence Hennecke billed as "the Keystone Cops," and they get a couple of bits to do.

The Joe Kirkwood Jr. career path was definitely a unique one: "Let's get a professional golfer, who's never acted, to play a professional boxer in a movie series."


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