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The Life of Riley

The Life of Riley(1949)

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Opening credits conclude with the following written statement: "America! Land of miracles, where dreams come true! In 1907, a penniless farmer named Ruben Shipp discovered gold while plowing his field. Today he is just living the life of Riley...In 1908, a starving Indian named Gray Horse drove a tent stake into the ground and struck oil. Today he is just living the life of Riley...This is the story of Chester A. Riley...who is just Los Angeles California." The expression "life of Riley" or "living the life of Riley (Reilly)" emerged in the early 1920s, and was probably derived from turn-of-the-century Irish songs, such as "The Best in the House Is None Too Good for Reilly." Irving Brecher's onscreen credit reads: "Written and directed by Irving Brecher." Actor Ted de Corsia's name appears as both "de Corsia" and "deCorsia" in the onscreen credits.
       The Life of Riley was the initial release of Brecher Productions, Inc. William Bendix first played "Riley" in the popular NBC radio series on which this film was based, and John Brown played "'Digger' O'Dell" in the series. Brown also played "Gillis" on the radio. Paula Winslowe played "Peg" for most of the series' run. Alan Lipscott and Reuben Ship wrote many of the radio series' early episodes, and Don Bernard was the show's initial director. Riley's catch phrase in the series and the film was "what a revolting development this turned out to be."
       Patricia Hall was listed as a cast member in a Hollywood Reporter news item, but her appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. Although Hollywood Reporter announced in January and February 1949 that the film would have its premiere in March 1949 in Cincinnati, no definite information about the premiere was found. Bendix, Rosemary DeCamp, Richard Long, Meg Randall and John Brown reprised their screen roles for an May 8, 1950 Lux Radio Theatre broadcast. In October 1949, the NBC network began broadcasting a television series inspired by the radio program, also titled The Life of Riley. Jackie Gleason starred as Riley during the show's first year, while DeCamp and Lanny Rees reprised their film roles for the series. The show was canceled after its first season, but was revived in 1953, then ran on the NBC network until August 1958. For the second run, Bendix returned as Riley, while Marjorie Reynolds appeared as Peg.