Friday, June 2, 2017

A Quick Look: THE EGG AND I (1947)

   In 1947 the best-selling book The Egg And I was brought to the screen as a vehicle for Claudette Colbert, THE EGG AND I. In the film, she and husband Fred MacMurray move to the rural community of Cape Flattery, Washington, so he can follow his dream of being a chicken farmer. Much humor comes from the city gal's adjustment to life on a farm stuck largely a hundred years in the past. During all this, she has a suspicious eye on the much more modern lady farmer Louise Allritton, who really hits it off with Fred. The film, like the book, was a smash. It's basic premise later served as the foundation of television's Green Acres. Of course, the film's main contribution to pop culture was it's casting of Marjorie Main and Percy Kilbride to play hillbilly farm couple Ma and Pa Kettle. They became such a hit with audiences that Universal produced a sequel film titled MA AND PA KETTLE, which reversed the situation of THE EGG AND I somewhat by moving the hillbilly family into a futuristic model home (no doubt this was a partial inspiration for The Beverly Hillbillies, which in turn spun off of itself Green Acres). This in turn was a massive hit, and the studio would spend the next decade cranking out annual revisits to the Kettles. When Percy Kilbride left the series, producers tried to work around it with the last two entries, but audiences missed Percy. Marjorie's critically-praised inaugural performance as Ma, meanwhile, got her cast opposite Abbott and Costello for THE WISTFUL WIDOW OF WAGON GAP. It remains one of the best western comedies of the era.

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