austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Heads held high, touch the sky

More movies watched during WiiFit: Here We Go Again, starring Fibber McGee and Molly, The Great Gildersleeve, and Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy. It's one of those efforts to put old-time radio on the movie screen and packs two and a half shows (Gildersleeve was a Fibber spinoff, after all) into 80 minutes because I guess with the characters taken away from their home settings they don't want to risk running out of stuff for the characters to do.

The premise starts with Fibber and Molly preparing a party for their wedding anniversary, only to learn all their friends have excuses for not making it. Again all laws of sitcom convention they're not being set up for a surprise party: their friends really do have prior commitments. So Fibber and Molly go back to the hotel where they spent their first honeymoon, which has become an amusingly ramshackle dump, and then flee to the good yet expensive hotel on the other side of the lake where the wealthy Mrs Uppington and Gildersleeve and his sister are staying. They can't possibly afford it, but Fibber can't back out of throwing a party there.

Meanwhile Edgar Bergen is camping in the woods looking for specific butterflies to MacGuffin a silk industry. He ends up dating Gildersleeve's sister and investing on McGee's behalf in a super-gasoline whipped up by Fibber supporting character Wallace Wimple in a plot that really feels like a belated addition to have the characters doing something. Unfortunately that something ends up with Bergen and Charlie McCarthy sneaking into a local Indian camp in search of the MacGuffin trees, padding the last act with scenes of remarkable awkwardness considering Bergen just wants to swipe suddenly-valuable materials from a reservation. Anyway, chase scene, lucky coincidences, and the super-gas formula and the butterfly silk thing come together into a resolution.

The relentless imposition of a plot on this gave me curious thoughts, like, did they actually need a plot? Fibber McGee and Molly would tend to have a loosely structured plot, mostly riffing around one theme with various characters while Fibber got himself into a hole, and the Edgar Bergen show was looser about that. Only Gildersleeve had the recognizable modern sitcom format and he actually has the vaguest story of all the characters here. (And unlike Heavenly Days, the other Fibber and Molly movie I'd reviewed here, they found excuses to put four of their regular guests into the plot even if they weren't at Wistful Vista.) Maybe a modern audience would insist on more structure, but I was fine with the first half or so and characters just doing set pieces such as the hotel room collapsing under Fibber and Molly. I know I'd have liked it better if they stuck with that rather than dressing Edgar and Charlie as Indian Mother and Papoose.

Trivia: Vice-President George Clinton did not attend James Madison's inauguration on 4 March 1809, and did not take his oath of office until the Senate met in special session 22 May 1809. Source: From Failing Hands: The Story of Presidential Succession, John D Feerick.

Currently Reading: American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur, 1880 - 1964, William Manchester.


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