The Adventures of Ma & Pa Kettle, Vol. 1 [DVD]

The Adventures of Ma and Pa Kettle, Volume 1 is an entertaining film compilation and, given its generous running time and low price, one difficult to complain about. The two-sided single disc in a slipcase contains one classic A-movie comedy, The Egg and I (1947), starring Fred MacMurray and Claudette Colbert, and three B-movie comedies -- The Further Adventures of Ma and Pa Kettle (1949), Ma and Pa Kettle Go to Town (1950), Ma and Pa Kettle Back on the Farm (1951) -- built around the two characters played by Marjorie Main and Percy Kilbride, and all for the cost of a single, front-line DVD release of a modern title. The movies are in good shape, mastered in full-frame (1.33:1), though it's clear that Universal has not done any serious searching for materials. The best of the movies, Chester Erskine's The Egg and I, looks clean, though very slightly soft, as though the source were not quite the 35 mm answer-print or first-generation negative that would be ideal; it's not that it's bad in any way, just not as perfect in its sharpness as it should ideally be. The later Ma and Pa Kettle movies here actually look very slightly better than the first two pictures in the collection. The Egg and I comes with a reissue trailer, and The Further Adventures of Ma and Pa Kettle has the original trailer, which opens with Main and Kilbride addressing the camera directly, re-using a gimmick that turns up at the opening of The Egg and I involving Claudette Colbert. Each movie has been given a very generous 18 chapters and comes with a selection of Spanish and French subtitles with optional English captions. The triple-layer menu on each side opens automatically, offering the side's film selection and the feature selection on each movie. The annotation and plot descriptions are minimal, but adequate.
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Ma and Pa Kettle Back on the Farm
This third entry in Universal's money-spinning "Ma and Pa Kettle" series once more stars Marjorie Main and Percy Kilbride as the title characters. This time, the Kettles extend their hospitality to their stuffy Boston in-laws (Ray Collins and Barbara Brown). Trouble brews when the Bostonites offer to raise the Kettles' grandson in a more "suitable" environment--namely, their own. The plot goes off on another tangent when it is presumed that the Kettle farm is rich with uranium. Ma and Pa Kettle Back on the Farm delivers the goods for fans of the series, and even provides a few bright and funny moments for non-fans. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Ma and Pa Kettle
The title couple and their enormous brood of bumpkins made their movie debut in the film version of Betty McDonald's humorous book The Egg and I (1947) where they appeared as supporting characters. Audiences found them funny and so the characters got their own long-running series of B movies. Ma and Pa Kettle is the first in that series and centers on the exploits of the impoverished hayseed family after Pa wins a contest by writing a jim-dandy slogan for a tobacco company. The Kettle's prize is a brand new, ultra modern, fully automated home. It's a good thing too, for Ma, Pa and their 15 kids were about to get booted out of their previous wreck of a home. Of course the film is at its funniest when the Kettles are trying to figure out how to operate their fancy new digs. ~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi

Ma and Pa Kettle Go to Town
The second of Universal's "Ma and Pa Kettle" series, Ma and Pa Kettle Go to Town stars, as ever, Marjorie Main and Percy Kilbride. This time, the Kettles win a letter-writing contest, which offers as first prize an all-expense-paid trip to New York City. Once in Manhattan, the huge Kettle brood raises all sorts of Holy Ned, culminating in an episode involving stolen bank money. Somehow this all ends with a riotous, slapstick-laden square dance. The film's romantic subplot is handled by Richard Long as oldest son Tom Kettle and Meg Randall as his high-society wife Kim. Also carried over from the first Kettle entry are Ray Collins and Barbara Brown as the Kettle's wealthy in-laws. A winner at the box-office, Ma and Pa Kettle Go to Town helped pay for many of Universal's "prestige" releases of 1950. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Egg and I
Based on the humorous autobiographical book by Betty McDonald, The Egg & I casts Claudette Colbert and Fred MacMurray as Manhattan-dwelling newlyweds. When MacMurray enthusiastically purchases an upstate farm in the hopes of cleaning up in the egg business, Colbert cautiously goes along. The film's humor is derived from the efforts of these two hopelessly citified slickers to adapt themselves to the rigors of rural life. In a plot complication added to the film, pretty neighbor Louise Allbritton upsets the equilibrium of MacMurray and Colbert's union, but both husband and wife are happily reunited at the finale (in real life, Betty McDonald and her husband were splitsville before the book even hit the stands). Retained from the novel, though heavily laundered, were the earthy characters of farmers Ma and Pa Kettle and their huge brood of children. Marjorie Main as Ma and Percy Kilbride as Pa struck so responsive a chord with filmgoers that Universal headlined them in their own "Kettle" series of B pictures, which endured until 1956. The Egg & I would be adapted into a live TV comedy serial in 1952, with Pat Kirkland and John Craven in the leading roles. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • Marjorie Main
    Marjorie Main - Ma Kettle
  • Percy Kilbride
    Percy Kilbride - Pa Kettle
  • Richard Long
    Richard Long - Tom Kettle
  • Image coming soon
    Meg Randall - Kim Kettle
  • Ray Collins
    Ray Collins - Jonathan Parker
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