30 June 2012 | jayraskin
Alan Young and Robert Merrill Make It Worth Watching
At best, this old fashioned, country mouse versus city slickers story is amusing and disarmingly cute. At worst, it occasionally becomes dull. There are several things that make the movie possibly worth watching.
First, there's Alan Young. He's kind of a low rent Danny Kay with a gentle boyish style of acting reminiscent of Harry Langdon. He became a big star with the talking horse comedy series "Mr. Ed" in the early 60's. This movie shows that Young is talented and entertaining even without a talking horse. As far as I can tell, this was his only starring movie. Its too bad. He has a lovely and unique quality that should have led to a much bigger career. He makes every scene he's in amusing and interesting to watch.
Second, there's Robert Merrill. He became famous as a great Metropolitan Opera singer. This was his only straight starring acting role. He is actually quite natural and funny. Again we have an actor who shows a lot of screen presence. Unfortunately, the Hollywood studios didn't agree. He went back to the opera stage permanently after this film failed at the box office.
Third, we have Dinah Shore. She was famous as a singer and successful as a television talk show host later in the 1960's and 70's. This seems to be her only real staring movie role. She comes off as a low rent Doris Day. Unlike Merrill or Young, its hard to see her really being a movie star, she has a dull but pleasantly folksy personality, perhaps best suited to second banana roles. She probably made a good decision to stick with the singing.
This is a sweet movie which I think kids 8-12 would really enjoy. It should probably be seen in conjunction with the 1940 and 1959 versions of "Li'l Abner." Some of the humor matches up.
I won't argue that it is a lost masterpiece, but it is a generally pleasant little musical 75% of the time. If you want to be put into a mild and nostalgic mood, give it a try.