Movie Report: Ma and Pa Kettle Back On The Farm (1951)

Book coverAfter discoursing, briefly, on films that piss on Missouri, I popped this film in right away as I thought it was set in Missouri because Ma and Pa Kettle are yokels, and the Ozarks hillbilly was entering the popular culture about this time. But I was mistaken; apparently, the films are set in Washington state for the most part (although one later entry is The Kettles in the Ozarks). So this is not a piss on Missouri movie at all. And it’s funny, the passage of time; I would have sworn I just bought this film, but it was almost six months ago. Man, I am not watching movies as fast as I’m buying them.

At any rate, this is the first Ma and Pa Kettle movie I watched on purpose and all the way through. I say this because, gentle reader, well… pull up a chair and hear about the Olden Days. When I was a kid, before cable, the UHF stations on the dial and sometimes the VHF stations, would play two or three movies on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. These tended to include old black-and-white war movies and comedies from series, including the Ma and Pa Kettle movies and Francis the Talking Mule (a couple of series I remember). As a pre-teen boy, I tended to only get into monster movies on the creature feature show. So although I would have had the chance to watch probably everything in this series, I didn’t.

So: This is the third film in which Ma and Pa Kettle and their kin appear. In The Egg and I, they’re secondary characters to the main characters who move from the big city to the farm (and for which Marjorie Main was nominated for Best Supporting Actress). Then the films focus on them with various vagaries (my rigorous research indicates). In this film, the Kettles are living in a modern house with their son who graduated from college and invented an improved chicken egg incubator (the premise of Ma and Pa Kettle). Their son and his eastern wife are about to have a baby, and the in-laws show up, and the domineering mother-in-law takes over, driving the Kettles back to their farm which lacks the modern conveniences they’ve come to appreciate. Prospectors think they’ve found a vein of uranium on the Kettles’ land leading to their presumed chance at wealth. And the mother-in-law eventually drives the new parents apart.

In a series of humorous set pieces, everything is set aright.

I chuckled at a couple of the things. But I don’t know if I’ll order other films in the series. If I see them, I might pick them up–odds are better to find them here than elsewhere, perhaps. Especially for a buck or fifty cents at the book sale or antique mall.

And I don’t even think this would count as a pissing on kind of movie because it’s light-hearted comedic poking at archetypes. I count pissing on movies as earnest, this is how those lesser people really are kinds of films. Or perhaps I just slap the term around arbitrarily and without being informed about what I’m talking about. This is a blog, after all, and hot takes are often also spit takes.

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories