The Great Gildersleeve


1h 2m 1942
The Great Gildersleeve

Brief Synopsis

A small-town blowhard runs for water commissioner while fighting to win custody of his niece and nephew.

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Release Date
Jan 1942
Premiere Information
New York opening: week of 17 Dec 1942
Production Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 2m
Sound
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
5,606ft

Synopsis

Amelia Hooker, a spinster with matrimonial designs on Throckmorton P. Gildersleeve, hints that her brother, Judge Horace Hooker, may deny Gildersleeve's petition for legal guardianship of his niece Margie and nephew LeRoy unless he marries. When Gildersleeve replies that he plans to install a woman in the house, Amelia thinks that he is planning to propose to her. Gildersleeve's idea of a woman in the house, however, is to recruit the children's aunt Emma to come and live with the family. As he prepares to drive to the Summerfield train station to meet Emma, Gildersleeve discovers that his car is out of gas, and so he drives LeRoy's scooter with sidecar instead. When the sidecar derails with Aunt Emma in it, her watch is destroyed in the resulting crash. While Gildersleeve is replacing the watch at jeweler's, Amelia's friends see him and, assuming that he is buying an engagement ring, call to offer Amelia their congratulations. That night, a messenger delivers a love letter from Amelia to Gildersleeve, prompting the panicked bachelor to visit the Hooker house the next morning to deny any matrimonial intent. After the judge angrily gives him ten days to marry or lose custody of his niece and nephew, Gildersleeve reluctantly considers courting Amelia. Deploring the idea of Amelia becoming their "mother," LeRoy and Margie scheme to make their uncle the most important man in town in order to intimidate Judge Hooker. As LeRoy prints handbills touting Gildersleeve's greatness, Margie leads brass bands in salute of him. When Governor John Stafford's car breaks down in Summerfield, the governor meets LeRoy as he is posting the handbills. The governor, who is traveling incognito because he wants a rest, introduces himself as Mr. Smith. Discovering that the governor is suffering from a bad cold, LeRoy invites him home to try Aunt Emma's cold cure. At the Gildersleeve house, Aunt Emma puts the ailing governor to bed. When Gildersleeve is told about their house guest, he becomes angry until Margie, who has learned their visitor's true identity from his chauffeur, informs her uncle of the governor's ruse. Athough the governor pleads with the family to keep his identity a secret, Gildersleeve immediately goes to his country club and brags that the governor is his guest. To verify Gildersleeve's story, Mayor Appleton calls the governor's office, and when his secretary transfers the call to the "governor," the mayor and the others think that Gildersleeve is lying and decide to teach him a lesson. Judge Hooker invites Gilversleeve and the governor to a luncheon at the club the next day, and when the guest of honor arrives, the club members use a trick microphone to squirt water in his face and send electric shocks to his chair. Indignant, the governor is about to leave when Mayor Appleton arrives and recognizes him. Thoroughly humiliated, Judge Hooker goes home to pack his possessions and leave town. As the judge packs his trunk, Gildersleeve and Governor Stafford drive to his house, and after the governor forgives the judge's antics, Gildersleeve and Judge Hooker reconcile.

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Release Date
Jan 1942
Premiere Information
New York opening: week of 17 Dec 1942
Production Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 2m
Sound
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
5,606ft

Articles

The Great Gildersleeve -


In addition to being one of radio's longest-running shows (1941-1957), The Great Gildersleeve is wisely credited as the first spin-off series. Starting in 1935, Harold Peary had played various characters named Gildersleeve on the radio comedy Fibber McGee and Molly before settling on his Great Gildersleeve characterization as a lovable small-town blowhard in 1939. At that point, the character became a huge fan favorite, eventually landing a series of his own and appearing in supporting roles in five films, only two of them with Fibber and Molly. RKO promoted Peary and his character to the starring role in 1942 for a series of four popular films. In the first, he's trying to adopt his niece and nephew (Nancy Gates and Freddie Mercer) while dodging judge Charles Arnt's amorous sister (Mary Field). The only other actor brought over from the radio show was Lillian Randolph as Birdie, Gildersleeve's wisecracking housekeeper. The two and Mercer would be the only constants in the series as various family members and friends came and went. Jane Darwell co-stars in the first two films as an elderly aunt who moves in to help make a home for the two children, while Gates would also continue for two films and Mercer for three.

By Frank Miller
The Great Gildersleeve -

The Great Gildersleeve -

In addition to being one of radio's longest-running shows (1941-1957), The Great Gildersleeve is wisely credited as the first spin-off series. Starting in 1935, Harold Peary had played various characters named Gildersleeve on the radio comedy Fibber McGee and Molly before settling on his Great Gildersleeve characterization as a lovable small-town blowhard in 1939. At that point, the character became a huge fan favorite, eventually landing a series of his own and appearing in supporting roles in five films, only two of them with Fibber and Molly. RKO promoted Peary and his character to the starring role in 1942 for a series of four popular films. In the first, he's trying to adopt his niece and nephew (Nancy Gates and Freddie Mercer) while dodging judge Charles Arnt's amorous sister (Mary Field). The only other actor brought over from the radio show was Lillian Randolph as Birdie, Gildersleeve's wisecracking housekeeper. The two and Mercer would be the only constants in the series as various family members and friends came and went. Jane Darwell co-stars in the first two films as an elderly aunt who moves in to help make a home for the two children, while Gates would also continue for two films and Mercer for three. By Frank Miller

Quotes

Trivia

This was the first of four feature films based on Harold Peary's popular radio character "The Great Gildersleeve". The next two features would be released later the same year, and the fourth released the following year (1944).

Notes

According to a news item in Hollywood Reporter, RKO borrowed director Gordon Douglas from Hal Roach for this film, which led to his term contract at the studio. This was the first film in RKO's "Great Gildersleeve" series. The series, which ran from 1942-44, consisted of four films, all featuring the adventures of Throckmorton P. Gildersleeve, who was portrayed by Harold Peary. All four were produced by Herman Schlom, directed by Gordon Douglas and featured Freddie Mercer as Gildersleeve's nephew "LeRoy" and Lillian Randolph as the maid "Birdie." Nancy Gates appeared as Gildersleeve's niece "Margie" in the first two films, but was replaced first by Margaret Landry, then by Margie Stewart. The film series was based on The Great Gildersleeve radio series, which was broadcast on the NBC radio network from August 31, 1941 -50. Lillian Randolph also played "Birdie" on the radio, and Richard LeGrand played "Peavy, the druggist," a character he reprised for the last three Gildersleeve films. The radio series was a spin-off of the Fibber McGee and Molly show. In 1955, the NBC television network syndicated the series for television. The television series featured Willard Waterman and Roland Keith. Lillian Randolph reprised her role as "Birdie" for the television production. For additional titles in the series, consult the Series Index.