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Out West with the Peppers

Out West with the Peppers(1940)

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teaser Out West with the Peppers (1940)

Original Peppers author Margaret Sidney used good business sense when growing her popular Little Peppers book franchise. She married her publisher to "keep it all in the family," and when he died she took over the business herself. Quitting after four books, Sidney responded to popular demand and wrote eight more. Columbia Pictures' family-friendly Peppers films were released only a few months apart, as were many studio series installments, such as Columbia's own Blondie pictures. Producer Jack Fier had to get his four Peppers pictures in the can before the young actors' voices changed, and before little Dorothy Ann Seese stopped looking like an adorable 5-year-old. The third Peppers outing Out West with the Peppers (1940) invents a new grumpy adult for the charming Polly Pepper (Edith Fellows) to enlighten, Pollyanna-style. To help Mother recover her health, the whole family relocates to an Oregon lumber camp. Polly's aunt (Helen Brown) is nice but Uncle Jim (Victor Kilian) hates kids. He even gives a hard time to the cute youngest Pepper, Phronsie. In the action highlight, the Pepper children's play raft is swept downriver. Uncle Jim comes to the rescue, and the experience thaws his cold heart. Character actor Emory Parnell provides more comic reassurance as the Swedish lumberjack Ole. As in the previous Peppers film, Edith Fellows is once again passed over to allow more audience-pleasing scenes with the cute little Phronsie, especially while learning about pirates from old Ole. Columbia's publicists did their best to promote little Dorothy Ann Seese as a successor to the world-famous moppet star Shirley Temple.

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