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On Our Merry Way

On Our Merry Way(1948)

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Recently married Oliver H. Pease has been pretending to his wife Martha that he is an investigative reporter for the Los Angeles Daily Banner when, in fact, he is employed there as a classified ad salesman. One morning, Martha gives him a question to pose to the public for his regular column: "What great influence has a little child had upon your life?" As he leaves for work, Oliver learns that all their furniture will be repossessed that evening, and at work, his bookmaker is waiting for him to pay up. After the real "Roving Reporter" dismisses Martha's question, Oliver approaches the editor, Mr. Sadd, telling him that he represents the publisher, who wants to improve the "Roving Reporter" column and has submitted a question to be used by Oliver, whom the publisher insists do the assignment. Mr. Sadd, who is unaware of Oliver's true role at the newspaper, has to agree and soon Oliver, followed by his bookie, asks the question around the city.
       At a nightclub, he meets musicians Lank and Slim, who tell him about the time they became involved with a "baby": While touring in an impoverished band, their decrepit bus breaks down in a small beach community. In a coffee shop they meet the mayor's son, Zoot. Zoot is a terrible trumpet player but, in order to get money to repair the bus, Lank and Slim say that they can arrange for him to win a lucrative talent contest if he can persuade his father to let them run it. Maxim, the gas station owner who is repairing the bus, says that he wants to enter his "little girl" Lola in the contest. Lola turns out to be an attractive young woman who shows Lank and Slim that she can effortlessly play trombone, trumpet and clarinet. At the contest, on the end of a pier, after it is announced that first prize will be a two-week engagement with the band and that Lank will be the judge, Maxim shows up with band leader Harry James and installs him as the judge. When it is Zoot's turn to perform, Lank disappears beneath the bandstand to play for Zoot while he "fakes." Unfortunately, Lank is standing in a motor boat that starts rocking severely, causing him to become seasick, and Zoot to produce some very strange notes. Slim then introduces Lola, who dazzles the audience with her trumpet rendition of the same melody which Zoot and Lank attempted, and is awarded first prize by James. Later, Lola invites Slim and Lank to join her band in the bus her father has repaired for her.
       After their story ends, Oliver goes back on the street and escapes from his bookie by scaling a wall and entering a house belonging to film actress Gloria Manners. Gloria answers Oliver's question by telling him about being a bit player in a film with child star Peggy Thorndyke and an old actor named Ashton Carrington. Peggy complains about Ashton forgetting his lines and is generally obnoxious, causing Ashton and Gloria to become very nervous. After Gloria ruins Take 37, she and Ashton are fired, but tell Peggy and her mother off. Gloria learns that Ashton has a script which would be perfect for her, and after Peggy comes to apologize, she offers to take the script to the studio head. Peggy also performs with them in an audition with the result that Gloria gets a contract and Ashton becomes her manager.
       When Gloria's story ends, Oliver, still trying to avoid the bookie, climbs a fire escape and, at a window, meets Al. In response to Oliver's question, Al tells him about the time he and his fellow con man, Floyd, were driven by the police to the county line near Carson Corners: There, Edgar Hobbs, a young orphan boy posing as gangster Sniffles Dugan, holds them up at gunpoint and tells them he has a lot of money at his gold mine. When Edgar tells them that he lives with a rich uncle, Al and Floyd plan to return the runaway and claim a reward. After Edgar plays various practical jokes on them, Al goes into town to try to find the boy's uncle and discovers that he is president of the local bank. At his home, Al meets Edgar's sister, Cynthia, and learns that Uncle Eli does not want his nephew returned. Back in the hills, Al and Floyd are about to leave when they spot a policeman and Edgar threatens to tell him what they have been planning. Later, they return Edgar to his uncle, along with a pony they have bought, telling him it was an inducement to get Edgar to return home. When Al and Floyd ask Eli for the cash they spent on the pony, he threatens to call the sheriff so they agree to work for him. Oliver now discovers that Al has become a stage magician, has married Cynthia and she, Floyd and Edgar assist him in his act.
       Back at the paper, Oliver is fired from his "classified" job for having been absent all day. Sadd, who has discovered his ruse, tears up his copy and throws him out, but later decides to read the column. Outside, the bookie roughs Oliver up and he is taken home by two policemen. He then tells Martha the truth but, much to his surprise, she welcomes him with champagne, because she has known all along about his job and does not mind. As the furniture is being taken away, Sadd comes to tell Oliver that he likes his column and asks him how he came to think of the question. Martha says that she gave it to him because she is going to have a baby. Sadd thinks this will make a great "topper" for the column which, henceforth, Oliver will be writing.