Ma and Pa Kettle (1949)
|Year Of Production||1949|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (72:32)||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Charles Lamont|
Universal Pictures Home Video
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.37:1||Miscellaneous|
|Subtitles||English for the Hearing Impaired||Smoking||No|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
"The family that made laughter a national pastime."
After their breakaway success as Ma and Pa Kettle in 1947's The Egg and I and their consolidation of this the next year in Donald O'Connor's Feudin', Fussin' and A-Fightin', though not as The Kettles, Marjorie Main and Percy Kilbride were given star status in Ma and Pa Kettle. (When released to video the title was extended to The Further Adventures of Ma and Pa Kettle. For this DVD release the original title appears in the credits.)
The opening scene finds Ma (Marjorie Main) and Pa (Percy Kilbride) exactly as we remember them. Ma is still sweeping chickens off the table as she prepares for the evening meal and Pa is still contemplating doing "sump'n" one day soon. In one wonderful moment Pa makes a grand gesture encompassing the disaster area that is their home declaring that he "carved this out of the wilderness". But the Kettles are not to stay on their farm for much longer. Pa has entered a slogan contest run by the Henry King Tobacco Company to get the free tobacco pouch promised to all entrants. A telegram arrives announcing that Pa has won the contest and first prize is "the model home of the future". Soon the entire family, Ma, Pa and fourteen kids - Tom (Richard Long) is away in college - is taking up residence in their new home in the centre of town.
The bulk of the plot then focuses on the problems Ma and Pa have with the gadgetry of the new house. Pa, in particular, has run-ins with automatic doors, a revolving bar, a foldaway bed, a clothes dryer, sun lamps and a particularly unusual faucet. (What visitor to the US has not had this experience?) Percy Kilbride has a field day with all of this, especially the automatic door bit. So simple and so funny.
Returning from college Tom meets a young reporter on the train, Kim Parker (Meg Randall). Kim is on her way to interview Ma and Pa - and on her way to romantic involvement with Tom. Other complications ensue. Pa becomes fed up with his battles with his new fangled house and returns alone to the farm. Town gossip Birdie Hicks (Esther Dale) determines to expose Pa's win as a fraud, claiming that he stole the slogan from travelling salesman Billy Reed (Emory Parnell). Ma and the kids arms themselves for siege as the sheriff comes to evict them from their new home and as he is preparing to rush to Ma's aid, Pa is "killed" in a dynamite explosion back on the farm.
All of this decidedly silly stuff is resolved when a horde of Indians led by Geoduck (Lester Allen), Crowbar (Chief Yowlachie) and Pa (!?) ride to the rescue, "Injun" music beating on the soundtrack. All that has to come is the wedding scene for Tom and Kim.
The Kettle comedy here is broader than in The Egg and I. Marjorie Main has lost the pathos of her original characterisation and Pa is less mean and more animated. Ma is also more corseted, with her figure more under control. Nevertheless this is enjoyable nonsense and the running time of just over seventy-two minutes seems too short.
In the final scene Pa gets a second telegram. He has won yet another contest, this prize being a trip to New York. Here comes number two in the series, Ma and Pa Kettle Go to Town! Universal was counting the millions!
Ma and Pa Kettle is included in the Universal two disc/four title set The Adventures of Ma and Pa Kettle Volume 1.
The quality of the transfer to disc is excellent.
The black and white image is rock solid steady and is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1. The original theatrical ratio was 1.37:1.
There is, of course, no 16:9 enhancement, except in the menus.
The picture is beautifully sharp and clear throughout with no evidence of low level noise.
The black and white reproduction is brilliant, with an extremely wide grey scale and excellent shadow detail. Blacks are strong and solid.
There is a small amount of grain, but nothing that is distracting.
I was not aware of any aliasing other than a little in the opening credits.
Artefacts were minimal. I was so impressed that a number of times I paused the movie and checked frame by frame. I finally found two then gave up.
I doubt if this movie looked this good in its original theatrical release.
The only subtitles are English for the Hearing Impaired.
Ma and Pa Kettle occupies one layer of a single sided disc. It is paired with Ma and Pa Kettle Back on the Farm .
Happily the audio is also in very good shape.
The original mono is clear and sharp.
Dialogue is totally clear and there are no sync problems.
There are no pops, crackles or dropouts.
There is some background hiss, but this is very slight.
There is only one audio track on the disc - English.
|Surround Channel Use|
There are no extras as such with this title.
After the Universal trademark there is a menu screen offering the choice between this feature and Ma and Pa Kettle Back on the Farm .
After choosing Ma and Pa Kettle, the next screen is a hand painted publicity shot with the options:
Scene Selection : 18 scenes, each with a black and white thumbnail, on five screens
Subtitles : English for the Hearing Impaired only.
All of these menu items are presented with 16:9 enhancement.
There is no sound or animation.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
This release is identical to the Region 1 release except that :
The Region 1 release has four movies on the one disc - (The Further Adventures of) Ma and Pa Kettle sharing one side with Ma and Pa Kettle Back on the Farm.
The Region 1 release has two additional language tracks, Spanish and French.
The Region 1 release has the English for the Hearing Impaired subtitles/captions "placed" on the screen according to the speaker's screen position.
Except for an individual concern with language, there is no reason to prefer the Region 1 release.
An undeniably corny and obvious comedy that was a monster hit when originally released. There is still plenty of enjoyable nonsense and the two leads are perfect in their roles. The transfer is outstanding.
|DVD||Onkyo-SP500, using Component output|
|Display||Philips Plasma 42FD9954/69c. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080i.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to DVD player. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.|
|Speakers||VAF DC-X fronts; VAF DC-6 center; VAF DC-2 rears; LFE-07subwoofer (80W X 2)|