26 January 2011 | dmdavidsonhome
The Life of Riley on the big screen
I have long been a fan of old-time radio but only discovered the wonderful world of The Life of Riley a few months ago. Ever since, I have made every effort to collect every known available episode of the radio program and of the two different t.v. shows (1949 with Jackie Gleason as Riley and the 1953-58 series with William Bendix). And my collection now includes the 1949 big screen feature film version. I am a huge fan of Jackie Gleason, but William Bendix was the definitive Chester A. Riley. He is in the film version, along with Rosemary DeCamp from the 1949 t.v. show as Peg. Lanny Rees is also Junior Riley as he was in the 1949 t.v. series. Unfortunately, they decided to have Barbara "Babs" Riley all grown-up and chose to replace Gloria Winters from the 1949 show with the older Meg Randall. James Gleason, as another reviewer said, was too old to play Riley's neighbour Jim Gillis. It is wonderful to see the great John Brown reprise his radio and 1949 t.v. show character of Digby "Digger" O'Dell. The film is a very good adaptation and well captures the flavour of the post World War II era. It is a lot of fun for Riley fans and for those soon to be.