Francis the Talking Mule: Complete Collection [3 Discs] [DVD]
- SKU: 24759148
- Release Date: 04/29/2014
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Ratings & Reviews
In this fourth of the "Francis" series, former Army officer Peter Stirling (Donald O'Connor) becomes a reporter for a big city newspaper. His greatest source of news tips is his talking mule Francis (voice by Chill Wills), who has become friendly with all the police horses. When asked how he manages to stay abreast of the news, Peter tries to explain about Francis, and is not unexpectedly labelled a looney-tune. But when Peter is brought to court on a homicide charge, Francis breaks his self-imposed rule of talking only to Peter and testifies on his master's behalf. With Francis' aid, Peter cracks the murder case and is graduated to star reporter. At fadeout time, Francis is seen wooing a female zebra, explaining "Don't let the striped pajamas fool ya." Francis Covers Big Town is harmless fun, bolstered by an expert supporting cast, including the always reliable Gene Lockhart (as Peter's editor) and Gale Gordon (as a flustered D.A.). ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
Francis in the Navy
Complaining that Francis the Mule was getting more fan mail than he was, Donald O'Connor bade adios to the "Francis" series with this 1955 entry. Once more, O'Connor plays Army lieutenant Peter Sterling, who heads to a navy base when it looks like his old pal Francis is about to be auctioned off as surplus. In short order, Sterling is mistaken for a bos'n's mate whom he resembles, and it's off to sea for both Peter and the mule. Among the able-bodied seamen in this film is a chap named Jonesy, played by a young Clint Eastwood in his second movie appearance. An eleborate slapstick finale brings this one to a rousing conclusion. Director Arthur Lubin likewise left the "Francis" series after Francis in the Navy; the next (and last) entry, Francis in the Haunted House, starred Mickey Rooney and was directed by Charles Lamont. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
Francis in the Haunted House
Though both star Donald O'Connor and director Arthur Lubin had said goodbye to the "Francis the Talking Mule" series, Universal-International wasn't about to give up on so valuable a property. Thus, Francis in the Haunted House starred Mickey Rooney, with Charles Barton calling the shots. Likewise missing from the earlier series entries was the voice of Francis, Chill Wills; he is replaced by the ubiquitous Paul Frees, who also narrated the film's promotional trailer. The plot and comic content of Francis in the Haunted House is summed up by the title, as Francis and his new buddy David Prescott (Mickey Rooney) try to corral a gang of art thieves. Along the way, they get mixed up with a phony heiress (Virginia Welles), a series of murders (one of the victims is Richard Deacon!) and, of course, a spooky old house. Most of the "scare" gags in Francis in the Haunted House had been done earlier, and better, by Universal's own Abbott and Costello. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
Francis Goes to the Races
In this funny sequel to the popular Francis the Talking Mule the loquacious equine and his plucky pal Peter (Donald O'Connor) get a job working on a horse-breeder's ranch and end up saving it from financial ruin when Francis, who has the inside track with the racehorses, provides Peter with names of the winners before the races are run. Sure enough Peter finds himself with a fistful of cash and uses it to buy a racehorse for the farm. Unfortunately, the mare he chooses is suffering from a debilitating lack of confidence. Fortunately, Francis is around to perk her up. When not dealing with the mare, Peter finds time to court the horse- breeder's lovely niece. ~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi
One wonders if Donald O'Connor would have consented to star in Francis if he knew that a series was to follow. Adapted by David Stern from his own novel, the film stars O'Connor as GI Peter Sterling, who appears to be bucking for a Section Eight. Seems that Sterling keeps insisting that Francis, a cantankerous Army mule, has the power of speech. It turns out that Francis not only can talk, but is also a superb military strategist. With Francis' help, Sterling breaks up a Nazi spy ring and becomes a hero -- but this is only the beginning, as the future entries in Universal's Francis series would prove over and over. Providing able support to the hapless O'Connor are Patricia Medina, Ray Collins, and especially ZaSu Pitts as a bewildered Army nurse. The voice of Francis is provided by Chill Wills, who likewise showed up in most of the Francis sequels, and who, like O'Connor, bailed out before the final entry, Francis in a Haunted House (1956). ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
Francis Goes to West Point
Francis Goes to West Point is the third entry in Universal's money-spinning series about a talking mule. Donald O'Connor once again stars as Peter Sterling, who with the garrulous Francis' helps prevent the destruction of an atomic energy plant. As a reward, Peter is given a scholarship to West Point, where he quickly distinguishes himself as the military academy's biggest foul-up. Peter's future as an officer and a gentleman is saved by the timely arrival of Francis, who functions as the West Point football team's mascot. This time around, O'Connor is allotted two lovely leading ladies, played by Lori Nelson and Alice Kelly. Two of the West Point cadets are played by future TV favorites David Janssen and James Best. And as always, Francis' Southern-fried voice is supplied by Chill Wills. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
Francis Joins the Wacs
Francis Joins the WACS was the fifth in Universal's comedy series about a talking Army mule and his hapless human companion. Thanks to a bureaucratic snafu, ex-GI Peter Sterling (Donald O'Connor) is called into acitive duty and assigned to a WAC unit, headed by Major Simpson (Lynn Bari). It is Sterling's task to train the women to be camouflage experts, but the ladies resent his presence, assuming that Peter has been sent to discredit their unit. But with the help of Francis, the WACs manage to win the annual War Games, and to flummox misogynistic General Kaye (Chill Wills, who also provides Francis' voice). Julie Adams, then billed as Julia, provides the love interest. ZaSu Pitts also appears in Francois Joins the WACs, recreating the role she'd played in the first Francis installment back in 1949, while other uniformed females include Mamie Van Doren and Allison (Attack of the 50-Foot Woman) Hayes. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
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