For Reel

The Great Gildersleeve (1942)
July 27, 2015, 11:52 am
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Gordon Douglas
3 Stars
The Great GildersleeveHarold Peary first premiered his enormously popular Throckmorton P. Gildersleeve character on the Fibber McGee and Molly radio show before earning a spinoff that would last for a decade and half, one of the format’s longest-running successes. RKO Pictures would try to capitalize on the success of the broadcast with a series of films based on the program. Peary’s operatic groans and laughs are a tough pill to swallow–he gives the type of hyper-emotive vocalization that might be suited to the radio, but it comes off as quite grating on film. Despite the rough go at translating the character to a new medium, however, The Great Gildersleeve does move along fairly well, utilizing an episodic structure and involving a number of fairly inventive lowbrow gags. In one particular tangent, Gildersleeve seeks to break the world record for running backwards. The great Jane Darwell, hot off her Academy Award win for The Grapes of Wrath, lends support as Aunt Emma, but the show is stolen by Mary Field as the spinster sister of a judge who is determined to make Gildersleeve her husband.

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