On their wedding night, Bob reveals to Betty that he has purchased an abandoned chicken farm. Betty struggles to adapt to their new rural lifestyle, especially when a glamorous neighbor seems to set her eyes on Bob.
On the verge of being evicted from their run-down farmhouse, the large Kettle family is given a new, modern home after Pa wins a contest, but he is accused of plagiarizing his winning slogan by a jealous local woman.
When Pa wins a jingle-writing contest, he and Ma head for New York City. They they get in trouble with gangsters when they lose some stolen money which they had already agreed to deliver to one of the thugs.
Ma and Pa are trying to raise enough money at the county fair to send their daughter Rosie to college. Ma competes in baking and Pa enters a trotter in a horse race, while Rosie takes up with handsome young Marvin Johnson.
Ma and Pa, along with daughter Rosie, go off to Hawaii in answer to cousin Rodney's call for help running his pineapple farm while he recovers from an illness. Pa soon causes a major explosion and gets himself kidnapped.
Elwin Kettle might win a scholarship to an agricultural college. Essay contest judges Mannering and Crosby decide to choose between the two finalists by spending a weekend at the home of ... See full summary »
The Kettles are in Paris along with their daughter-in-law's parents the Parkers. Pa tries to buy racy postcards. He also gets in big trouble when he is given a letter to deliver to Adolph ... See full summary »
On their wedding night Bob informs his new bride Betty that he has bought a chicken farm. An abandoned chicken farm, to be exact, which is obvious when the two move in. Betty endures Bob's enthusiasm for the rural life, rustic inconveniences, and battling nature, but her patience is severely tested when glamorous neighbor Harriet Putnam seems to set her sights on Bob.Written by
Ron Kerrigan <email@example.com>
Cooked eggs would have been served on the train ride, yet the egg that breaks on the coach floor is obviously runny and therefore raw. See more »
Frank 'Pa' Kettle:
Got the water tank up. Will have running water any minute now.
Oh, thanks. Isn't that a relief?
Phoebe 'Ma' Kettle:
Never seen the sense of running water in my house m'self. 'Drather get mine straight out of the ground where the good lord put it.
See more »
The Egg and I is based on a best selling book by Betty McDonald concerning the happenings around an urban city dwelling woman, Claudette Colbert playing Betty McDonald, whose husband, Fred MacMurray, gets an agricultural urge after service in World War II. Back to nature so to speak. They both adapt, he a great deal easier than she did and that's part of the plot.
Doing a little research on the movie and book, I found that Betty McDonald was a resident of Seattle and where they moved was not anywhere near hillbilly country, but to a rural part of Washington state. But of course what Universal was doing was giving in to stereotypes. They couldn't make Ma and Pa Kettle and the rest of the characters convincing without transferring The Egg and I to an Ozark/Appalachian background.
Knowing that it does make me curious as to how the Kettles and the rest of the rustic neighbors were portrayed in the book.
Still somebody apparently knew what they were doing because The Egg and I with a built in audience of those who had already bought Betty McDonald's book cleaned up at the box office. And Percy Kilbride and Marjorie Main as Ma and Pa Kettle and their growing family became such a hit it spawned a series of money making films for Universal Studios for the next decade.
How popular were the Kettles? I remember back as a lad watching an episode of Gomer Pyle who when he got a pass to go into town took in a revival film of the Ma and Pa Kettle series. In places like Mayberry, North Carolina the Kettles attained a cult status. Marjorie Main got a Best Supporting Actress nomination, but lost to Celeste Holm for Gentlemen's Agreement. She and Percy Kilbride played variations on their Kettle characters in most of the remaining films in their respective careers.
Still it's Fred and Claudette's film despite the Kettles and both settle into roles very comfortable for both of them. Next to the Kettles, the supporting player who comes off best is Louise Allbritton, the mantrap neighbor who's got her eye on Fred MacMurray. You will also like Billy House as the rotund peddler with everything, even himself for the needy housewife.
Rural Washington state had to wait until the Nineties for a film set in that part of the country. It was hardly a flattering picture that Tobias Wolff painted of where he grew up in This Boy's Life. No rustics like the Kettles in that Leonardo DiCaprio/Robert DeNiro film.
Probably the most successful imitator of The Egg and I had to be the CBS classic series Green Acres. Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor were even more out of place in the Ozarks than Colbert and MacMurray were. They too dealt with a collection of rustics that looked like they stepped from the cast of The Egg and I.
They even made Green Acres a success without the Kettles.
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