Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch


1h 20m 1934

Brief Synopsis

The Wiggs family plan to celebrate Thanksgiving in their rundown shack with leftover stew, without Mr. Wiggs who wandered off long ago an has never been heard from. Do-gooder Miss Lucy brings them a real feast. Her boyfriend Bob arranges to take Wiggs' sick boy to a hospital. Their other boy makes some money peddling kindling and takes the family to a show. Mrs. Wiggs is called to the hopsital just in time to see her boy die. Her neighbor Miss Mazy wants to marry Mr. Stubbins who insists on tasting her cooking. Mrs. Wiggs sneaks her dishes past Stubbins who agrees to marriage. Mr. Wiggs appears suddenly, in tatters, with just the amount of money (twenty dollars) needed to save the family from foreclosure. Miss Lucy and Bob get married.

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Drama
Adaptation
Release Date
Oct 19, 1934
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Paramount Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
Paramount Productions, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch by Alice Hegan Rice and Anne Crawford Flexner (New York, 3 Sep 1904).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 20m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
9 reels

Synopsis

Mrs. Elvira Wiggs has been rearing her children, Jimmy, Billy, Europena, Asia and Australia, alone for three years since her husband Hiram left for the Klondike. The family is destitute, living in the shantytown of Cabbage Patch, and faces a dismal Thanksgiving. After a man leaves his horse for dead, the Wiggs revive it, naming it "Cuby" (after Cuba). Jimmy uses the horse to haul kindling to earn money. To their surprise, Lucy Olcott, a wealthy young benefactress, brings them two baskets of food for Thanksgiving. Lucy shuns her boyfriend, Bob Redding, however, after he shows up late with alcohol on his breath. She is unaware that he was attempting to assist an alcoholic friend back to the hospital, and his friend slipped liquor into his drinking water. Bob takes an interest in the Wiggs family, and takes Billy to a charitable hospital after finding out he has been sick for some time. Bob then buys tickets for the whole Wiggs family to attend the theater. In the meantime, Miss Tabitha Hazy, a spinster and close friend of Mrs. Wiggs, has selected a husband from a brochure with Mrs. Wiggs's assistance. The Wiggs are thrilled with the show, but their joy is interrupted when Mrs. Wiggs is called to Billy's bedside at the hospital. As she tearfully recounts the highlights of the performance, Billy dies. Touched by the tragedy of her situation, Bob advertises in his newspaper to locate Mr. Wiggs and bring him home. Still in mourning, Mrs. Wiggs helps Miss Hazy elicit a proposal from her demanding suitor, C. Ellsworth Stubbins, who promises that if she can make a good mince pie, he will marry her. Mrs. Wiggs exchanges her excellent cooked pie for Miss Hazy's terrible meal. Stubbins and Miss Hazy are married the next day, and their wedding inspires Lucy and Bob to reconcile. When Mr. Bagby, who holds the mortgage on the Wiggs home, demands final payment from Mrs. Wiggs by noon, Jimmy frantically rushes to Bob, hoping to sell his horse to him for the funds. Mr. Wiggs, responding to Bob's advertisement, slips in through the back door of his home just before noon, and Bob slips the final payment into his pocket. The Wiggs home is saved and their family reunited.

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Drama
Adaptation
Release Date
Oct 19, 1934
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Paramount Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
Paramount Productions, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch by Alice Hegan Rice and Anne Crawford Flexner (New York, 3 Sep 1904).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 20m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
9 reels

Articles

Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch


Generally considered the best of many incarnations of Alice Hegan Rice's sentimental story, the first sound version of Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch (1934) gets a shot of comic adrenaline from W.C. Fields and Zasu Pitts. Rice's turn-of-the-century novel, about a good-hearted woman with a large brood waiting patiently for her husband to return home, was adapted for the stage in 1904 and given silent-screen treatment in 1914 and 1919, with a sequel entitled Lovey Mary released in 1926. It would be remade as a sound feature in 1942 with Fay Bainter heading the cast.

The two sound versions of Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch were made at Paramount. When the 1934 version was in production, Fields was toiling on the lot on his own film, It's a Gift (also 1934). Norman Taurog, who had directed Fields in If I Had a Million (1932) persuaded the comic to take a break from his starring vehicle and take on the role of Mr. Stubbins in Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch, even though the character appears in only the final 20 minutes of the movie. Pitts plays Miss Hazy, a friend who has been accepted as a member of the family by Mrs. Wiggs, who is determined to find the younger woman a husband. Enter Fields as Stubbins, a likely candidate if only he can be fooled into thinking that Miss Hazy is an expert cook. The passionate wooing of Fields and Pitts, complicated by her lack of culinary skills, provides the movie's comic highlight.

A week before production began on Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch, Fields tore the ligaments and tendons in an ankle. Abandoning crutches only when the cameras rolled, he played his part in considerable pain. After one scene he apologized to his friend Taurog for forgetting his lines, explaining that, "this bad leg bothers me so much." Taurog's retort: "That's all right, Bill, but this is the first time I've ever heard of anybody talking with his feet!"

Producer: Douglas MacLean
Director: Norman Taurog
Screenplay: William Slavens McNutt, Jane Storm, from novel by Alice Hegan Rice and play by Anne Crawford Flexner
Art Direction: Hans Dreier, Robert Odell
Cinematography: Charles Lang
Original Music: Val Burton, John Leipold, Ralph Rainger (all uncredited)
Cast: Pauline Lord (Mrs. Wiggs), W.C. Fields (Mr. Stubbins), Zasu Pitts (Miss Hazy), Evelyn Venable (Lucy Olcott), Kent Taylor (Bob Redding), Charles Middleton (Bagby), Donald Meek (Mr. Wiggs).
BW-80m.

by Roger Fristoe
Mrs. Wiggs Of The Cabbage Patch

Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch

Generally considered the best of many incarnations of Alice Hegan Rice's sentimental story, the first sound version of Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch (1934) gets a shot of comic adrenaline from W.C. Fields and Zasu Pitts. Rice's turn-of-the-century novel, about a good-hearted woman with a large brood waiting patiently for her husband to return home, was adapted for the stage in 1904 and given silent-screen treatment in 1914 and 1919, with a sequel entitled Lovey Mary released in 1926. It would be remade as a sound feature in 1942 with Fay Bainter heading the cast. The two sound versions of Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch were made at Paramount. When the 1934 version was in production, Fields was toiling on the lot on his own film, It's a Gift (also 1934). Norman Taurog, who had directed Fields in If I Had a Million (1932) persuaded the comic to take a break from his starring vehicle and take on the role of Mr. Stubbins in Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch, even though the character appears in only the final 20 minutes of the movie. Pitts plays Miss Hazy, a friend who has been accepted as a member of the family by Mrs. Wiggs, who is determined to find the younger woman a husband. Enter Fields as Stubbins, a likely candidate if only he can be fooled into thinking that Miss Hazy is an expert cook. The passionate wooing of Fields and Pitts, complicated by her lack of culinary skills, provides the movie's comic highlight. A week before production began on Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch, Fields tore the ligaments and tendons in an ankle. Abandoning crutches only when the cameras rolled, he played his part in considerable pain. After one scene he apologized to his friend Taurog for forgetting his lines, explaining that, "this bad leg bothers me so much." Taurog's retort: "That's all right, Bill, but this is the first time I've ever heard of anybody talking with his feet!" Producer: Douglas MacLean Director: Norman Taurog Screenplay: William Slavens McNutt, Jane Storm, from novel by Alice Hegan Rice and play by Anne Crawford Flexner Art Direction: Hans Dreier, Robert Odell Cinematography: Charles Lang Original Music: Val Burton, John Leipold, Ralph Rainger (all uncredited) Cast: Pauline Lord (Mrs. Wiggs), W.C. Fields (Mr. Stubbins), Zasu Pitts (Miss Hazy), Evelyn Venable (Lucy Olcott), Kent Taylor (Bob Redding), Charles Middleton (Bagby), Donald Meek (Mr. Wiggs). BW-80m. by Roger Fristoe

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

According to a 1931 news item in Film Daily, Agnes Christine Johnston was signed to write dialogue and character material for a production of Mrs. Wiggs and the Cabbage Patch, however, no later news items or reviews mention her and the extent of her contribution to the film produced in 1934 has not been determined. Film Daily also noted in 1931 that Junior Durkin and Charlotte Henry were initially slated to appear in the film. This film marks Pauline Lord's screen debut. The "Glow Worm Ballet," which was performed in the vaudeville theatre scene, was staged by LeRoy Prinz. A photograph of Fields as a young man that was used in the film was, according to the pressbook, "an art study made of himself in Cape Town, South Africa, where he was a tramp juggler." Press reports also note that the shantytown was built in Calabasas, and a news item in Daily Variety notes that some scenes were filmed at Lasky Mesa, CA. The following songs were heard in part in the film: "The Glow-Worm," English words by Lilla Cayley Robinson, German words and music by Paul Lincke; "Wait 'Til the Sun Shines, Nellie," words by Andrew B. Sterling, music by Harry Von Tilzer; "Listen to the Mockingbird," words and music by Alice Hawthorne; "Old Folks at Home," words and music by Stephen Foster; and traditional Scottish ballad "Comin' Thro' the Rye," words by Robert Burns. Actress Mary McLaren was identified in a production still from the film, but her appearance in the released film has not been determined. According to a modern source, Fields seriously injured his ankle prior to production, and was in pain during filming. Modern sources add Tyler Brooke (Ticket taker) and Ann Sheridan to the cast. Other films produced by Paramount based on Rice and Flexner's play and titled Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch, are the 1919 production, directed by Hugh Ford and starring Marguerite Clark and Mary Carr (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1911-20; F1.3007), and the 1942 production, directed by Ralph Murphy and starring Fay Bainter and Hugh Herbert.