7 September 2001 | ThePollyannaSociety
I saw this film once as a kid, but couldn't remember the title. I caught it by accident this morning and was pleasantly surprised. It was actually more enjoyable than I remembered.
The story is sweet and not unfamiliar: a family lives in Baltimore at the turn of the century. Papa has passed away so Mama takes in boarders. The elder son (John) is very serious and takes care of his mother and younger brother (Lewie) by working at the bank. Of course, John has a fiancée whose plans for marriage keep getting put on the back burner.
The characters are very colorful: Lewie can communicate with horses. The mother is very innocent and thinks nothing of Lewie's horse chats because she sees supernatural things herself. The boarder (Mr. Puddy) is an inventor working on a beer bottle made from pretzel flour ("Eat a little, drink a little" he says wistfully). During dinner (Mama makes things like Kelp Soup) explosions are heard coming from Mr. Puddy's room. No one mentions it.
The dialogue and characters are reminiscent of "Arsenic and Old Lace", only they seem more natural. In my favorite scene Lewie is getting his back tickled by his mom. They're just having a very natural conversation and every time his mom stops tickling, he says, "More, more". I've played that scene in real life with my mom when I was little and now with my daughter. You don't see scenes like that in movies made today!
Being set in Baltimore, the story ends with a scene at Preakness, but I definitely don't want to give it away. I just want to encourage everyone to watch this film if you never have. It'll make you happy!