Blondie Brings Up Baby (1939) Poster

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The Bumsteads: Adventures in Parenting
lugonian13 October 2006
BLONDIE BRINGS UP BABY (Columbia, 1939), directed by Frank R. Strayer, the fourth theatrical installment based on Chic Young's popular comic strip characters, is by far the most involved in the series with so much happening during its 67 minutes worth of family crisis.

Returning to familiar territory following their previous vacation venture from BLONDIE TAKES A VACATION, the Bumsteads encounter numerous complications at both home and at the office. The scenario this time revolves around Baby Dumpling (Larry Simms) and his dog, Daisy. A book agent (Olin Howland) comes to the front door to sell encyclopedias, and gets around Blondie (Penny Singleton) by making her believe he's there to give her child an intelligence test with the use of blocks. Because Alvin (Danny Mummert), the next door neighbor, is always showing off with his extreme smartness, and calling Baby Dumpling a "dumbbell," Blondie agrees to the examination. While Alvin does everything correctly, the agent fools Blondie into buying the encyclopedias by telling her that her son has an I.Q. of 168. As for Dagwood (Arthur Lake) , whose I.Q. is probably on a low lower, his day at the office is anything but perfect. As an architect designer, he makes changes for the betterment on the Cartwright Building, but because it fails to meet with client Abner Cartwright's (Robert Middlemass) approval, he withdraws his account, causing Mr. Dithers (Jonathan Hale), Dagwood's boss, to fire him. Returning home and keeping the bad news from his spouse, Blondie, who has come to the conclusion that Baby Dumpling is a gifted child (considering that he can recite the alphabet from "A" to"B"), that he should be enrolled in school. School days becomes dog daze for Daisy as she misses Baby Dumpling's company, awaiting outside the schoolhouse until his afternoon dismissal. Daisy is then spotted and captured by dog catchers who take her to the pound. Baby Dumpling comes home upset that Daisy is lost, and the following day, skips school to search for her. He later finds Daisy on the Mason estate playing with Melinda Mason (Peggy Ann Garner), a rich but lonely crippled girl in a wheelchair whose nurse (Grace Stafford) had adopted the dog from the pound as companion for the child. Receiving the news that Baby Dumpling didn't come to school has the worried parents report the disappearance to the police, at the same time of report of Melinda being reported, who had been wheeled away from the property by Baby Dumpling without anyone seeing them. Things start to really get involved as Dagwood tracks down his son at the Mason estate. While roaming about the grounds, the gardener (Victor Potel), suspecting Dagwood to be the one who kidnapped Melinda, sneaks up from behind, hits him over the head with a shovel, places the unconscious Dagwood in a tool shed and notifies the police. Dagwood awakens to find the tool shed he's in to be surrounded by a police squad throwing tear gas in his direction, handcuffing and placing him under arrest. Poor Blondie. Now Dagwood is missing. Paging the Lost and Found Department!

Far-fetched, amusing and slightly sentimental, this is one of the few times in the series where situations depicted are true to life, such as parents not wanting to let go of their child after sending him off with a teacher to enter a classroom; or from the little boy's point of view, returning home with a "shiner" following a fight (off camera) with another kid at school; Baby Dumpling wanting to go to school by himself and not having his mother around so he won't be made fun of by the other kids (a common occurrence more with middle school students than grammar school kids); the child's top priority in locating his missing dog by skipping school (who could blame him); and some upsetting moments for the parents as they discover the disappearance of their children, fearing the worst. Children needing companionship (doggies, too) makes this a good moral of the story.

On the lighter side, there are some real funny added bits, including the angry Mr. Dithers cooling himself off by placing his head in the shower of water, and placing himself entirely in there when reaching the boiling point. A pity the writers didn't use steam as a substance in cooling off this irritable boss. Daisy's running from and hiding from the dog catchers is another highlight.

BLONDIE BRINGS UP BABY is one of the few in the series to not be restored to its original theatrical opening and closing credits, thus, not giving credit to its supporting players consisting of: Fay Helm (Mrs. Fuddow); Roy Gordon (Mr. Gordon); Bruce Bennett (Johnson, the chauffeur); Irving Bacon (Mr. Beasley, the postman); and Helen Jerome Eddy (Miss Ferguson, the principal).

Honorable mention certainly goes to Peggy Ann Garner, years before her achievement as the teen-aged Francie Nolan in A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN (20th-Fox, 1945) as little Melinda. Her scenes are certainly heartfelt and natural, especially when encouraged by Baby Dumpling to get up from the wheelchair and walk. This alone is sure to leave viewers of sentimental nature with tears building up in their eyes. And speaking of eyes, there are certain characters who've obtained some black ones, Dagwood for one, Baby Dumpling another, and Mr. Cartwright with two black eyes, one from Dagwood and another punch from Mr. Dithers. Black eyes were quite common in the comic strips years before being toned down due to violence upset from readers.

BLONDIE BRINGS UP BABY, formerly presented on American Movie Classics (1996-2002), is available for viewing on either the VHS or DVD formats. Next installment: BLONDIE ON A BUDGET (1940). (**1/2)
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The fourth Blondie film and the best yet
robert-temple-18 August 2010
The Blondie films were absolute classics of American comedy, and I hope that one day they will receive their due recognition. The plots of the Blondie films were constructed with the greatest of care, and were complex and always involved more than one story line going on at once in each episode of the series. Certain continuous threads of plot extended through each episode (there were 28 episodes in total) and these threads could be picked up at any time and carried forward, to enormous comic effect. Sometimes, as in Episode Three, Dagwood's office environment does not appear at all. Wonderful characters are sometimes created for a single episode, such as the fabulous character played by Gene Lockhart in Episode One, and then they drop out of sight forever. This was the continuous injection of novelty which kept the series fresh and unpredictable, so that there was always something new and exciting turning up, and then they would move on to the next new and exciting thing. In other words, this was a series that was always 'on the move', developing in an organic fashion, and hence very much alive. The sense of fun was always there, fed with the new and unexpected at every turn. This fourth episode is as hilarious as ever, with even more outrageous plot variations appearing. In this episode, the boy next door named Alvin (played by Danny Mummert, who has now learned to regard adults with a supercilious eye, which adds to the comedy effect) is portrayed as a precocious budding intellectual, who aged five quotes Samuel Johnson: 'Intelligence is always superior to force'. He says this to Dagwood, whom he calls 'a dumbbell'. Blondie pouts and gets jealous that the little boy next door may be cleverer than her own Baby Dumpling, aged four. At that point Alvin makes it possible to open the front door, which was 'stuck' so that neither Dagwood nor Blondie could open it, simply by turning the top lock. In walks a door to door encyclopaedia salesman, who offers a free intelligence test to the two children. The results are that Baby Dumpling turns out to be a genius, and the man pronounces: 'He has an IQ of 168, which is thirty points above the genius level.' Blondie phones Dagwood at the office to tell him this, and Dagwood panics and rushes out of the office shouting: 'I have to go home immediately! Baby Dumpling is ill. He has an IQ of 168!' Blondie insists that because Baby Dumpling is a genius, he must go to school immediately, so she and Dagwood lie about his age and have him enrolled. He refuses to be accompanied to school by anyone but Daisy the dog (whose antics are as cute as ever, including her raised ear trick). However, this leads to a traumatic incident where the waiting Daisy is captured by the officers of the Dog Pound and disappears, causing havoc amongst the Bumstead family. The Dog Pound sells Daisy to the nurse of a rich man whose daughter is in a wheelchair. Baby Dumpling, wandering around the streets looking for Daisy, hears her barking through a huge iron gate leading to a great house with a large lawn, goes in, and is reunited. The invalid girl's father is furious that the nurse let his child have a dog, as he thought dogs were bad for people. Meanwhile, Dagwood has been set up by an unscrupulous property developer during Mr. Withers's absence on holiday and tricked into making alterations to a building design in good faith which the man intends to use as a pretext to get out of a contract because he is secretly going bust. However, after Baby Dumpling coaxes the invalid girl into walking and playing, aided by the jovial company of Daisy, the rich father decides in his joy to build a children's' home with kennels for dogs included. However, he needs a design. Dagwood's design for the crooked builder has been rejected and he has had it carry it home. He dumps it over his front fence and Blondie, who had been weeding on her knees at that very spot, gets encapsulated. This is a very good sight-gag. This design ends up being enthusiastically adopted by the rich man, thus saving Dagwood's job, as Dithers has just fired him again, but quickly re-hires him and gives him a bonus. All of these shenanigans are directed with pace and style, as usual, by Frank R. Strayer, who did the previous three episodes and was to go on to do three more before leaving the Blondie series. Strayer deserves a great deal of the credit for making the Blondie films crisp, funny, and fast. Larry Simms as Baby Dumpling is just as outrageous and cute and funny as ever. Arthur Lake is, well, he is Dagwood. And Penny Singleton (the pre-War version of January Jones) is superb as usual as the dominant Blondie, who while keeping all the men and babies in order has her own moments of feminine frailty and looks weepily at her departing child on his way to school, sensing the fleeting joys of parenthood. Daisy plays Daisy with the same poise and personality as ever, and it is certain that her Dog IQ was even higher than 168. What a wonderful addition to the Blondie series this episode was. In this one, the postman plans various devious ways of avoiding the inevitable collision with Dagwood in the mornings, but all his best-laid plans fail comically. There is simply no way for any postman to avoid the Dagwood Menace, and the bumbling chaos of Dagwood's behaviour spreads like peanut butter over the entire proceedings. But the hopeless Dagwood is so lovable, and Blondie adores him so much, that we forgive him everything. And so we continue to watch the endlessly fascinating spectacle of Blondie bringing up both baby and husband.
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Baby Dumpling has his first day in school.
james36200129 December 2002
Just when the new mailman thought he had a new clever idea to deliver the mail to the Bumsteads without the letters literally becoming air mail, here comes Dagwood again! Alvin (Danny Mummert) is back to visit his pal Baby Dumpling (Larry Simms) to exert his intelligence. Today is Baby Dumpling's first day in school and not all goes well. The next film in the series is BLONDIE ON A BUDGET.
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One of the few Blondie films I remember...
MartinHafer19 June 2017
remember this from childhood dog caught by vet--nurse gets dog for disabled girl (polio?) Dagwood the fall guy gets fired yet again

When I was a boy, they used to show the Blondie and Dagwood films a lot on TV. The only one I remember at all was this one, a good but rather typical installment.

When the show begins, some huckster is going door-to-door giving IQ tests to children. He tells Mrs. Bumstead that Baby Dumpling is a super-genius....but it seems likely he's just trying to sell her a lot of books.

While Blondie is getting all excited about Baby Dumpling, Dagwood is working on a frustrating project. The client keeps approving every change and Dagwood is excited...but the client is a jerk and has no intention of actually having the project completed. Mr. Dithers (as usual) blames Dagwood and fires him.

Later, Baby Dumpling gets lost while looking for his runaway dog, Daisy. He eventually finds she was adopted by a disabled girl*. And, somehow this meeting ends up being the solution to all the Bumstead problems!

Overall, another enjoyable and nice installment in the series. Worth seeing and quite clever for a B-movie.

*While they never say why the girl is in a wheelchair, most likely it was Polio, which was sadly common. Plus, Polio is a disorder you CAN recover use of the legs from in some cases so this would be consistent with the story.
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Baby Dumpling = Dagwood or Alexander ?
mr4wrestle22 December 2019
In this movie there is a scene when Baby Dumpling comes home from school with a blackeye. Dagwood picks him up and brings him over to the mirror to look at the blackeye. During their conversation at the mirror, Dagwood tells Baby Dumpling that although they call him baby dumpling, his "real name is Dagwood, named after me".
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Baby Dumpling starts school.
JohnHowardReid10 November 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Penny Singleton (Blondie), Arthur Lake (Dagwood), Larry Simms (Baby Dumpling), Danny Mummert (Alvin Fuddle), Jonathan Hale (J. C. Dithers), Robert Middlemass (Abner Cartwright), Olin Howland (book agent), Fay Helm (Mrs Fuddle), Peggy Ann Garner (Melinda Mason), Roy Gordon (Mason), Grace Stafford (Miss White), Helen Jerome Eddy (school principal), Irving Bacon (mailman), Robert Sterling (salesman), Ian Wolfe (police judge), Bruce Bennett (Johnson, the chauffeur), Selmer Jackson (Tom), and "Daisy".

Director: FRANK R. STRAYER. Screenplay: Gladys Lehman, Richard Flournoy. Story: Robert Chapin, Karen DeWolf, Richard Flournoy. Based on characters created by Chic Young. Photography: Henry Freulich. Film editor: Otto Meyer. Art director: Lionel Banks. Gowns designed by Kalloch. Music director: Morris W. Stoloff. Producer: Robert Sparks.

Copyright 9 November 1939 by Columbia Pictures Corp. No recorded New York opening. U.S. release: 9 November 1939. Australian release: 22 February 1940. 7 reels. 6,212 feet. 69 minutes.

SYNOPSIS: Baby Dumpling starts school.

NOTES: Number 4 of the 28-picture series.

COMMENT: The fourth of the series. The budget is as expansive as "Blondie Takes a Vacation" and once again there is a stronger plot than in the first two films. As a matter of fact, there are actually two plots which are rather neatly dovetailed at the conclusion by screenwriters Gladys Lehman and Richard Flournoy.

Jonathan Hale gives a much more vivid impersonation of Dithers than he did in the first two films. Strayer's direction rates as consistently capable. The film's tear-jerking conclusion, with music director M.W. Stoloff playing "Silent Night" over the action, actually works rather well.
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Blondie gets conned
bkoganbing25 November 2015
This story of the adventures and misadventures of the Bumstead family starts with an unusual premise. It's Blondie getting conned rather than Dagwood that starts the ball rolling in Blondie Brings Up Baby.

It's another day at the Bumstead house with Arthur Lake running late and plowing into hapless mailman Irving Bacon. Penny Singleton falls victim to the cunning wiles of encyclopedia salesman Olin Howland who convinces her that Baby Dumpling is a genius. Larry Simms will need these books as an aid as he starts school early.

Of course no Blondie film would be complete without Dagwood fouling up on the job. He falls into a scheme whereby the Dithers Construction company gets stuck with a building they built when Dagwood made changes that the prospective owner never officially signed off on. Of course that all works out as well in the end.

Last but not least poor Baby Dumpling can't keep his precocious mind on school with Daisy the dog having run away and then be picked up by the dogcatcher. Daisy gets adopted by little Peggy Ann Garner, a girl with polio. That all works out as well rather touchingly.

Some pathos in Blondie Brings Up Baby as well as the usual laughs at Arthur Lake's expense.
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The parents are really the inmates running the asylum.
mark.waltz1 July 2015
Warning: Spoilers
How Dagwood Bumstead manages to keep his job after so many stupid errors is beyond me. How Blondie manages to keep the house from blowing up is also way beyond me. She can't even figure out that a stuck door is simply locked, not stuck, and visiting pest Alvin (Danny Mummert) proves that he is way smarter than her. Penny Singleton and Arthur Lake are back for the fourth installment in one of the longest comedy series, an influence for many similar structures utilized in 1950's and 60's sitcoms.

Blondie is tricked into thinking that Baby Dumpling is a genius (with an IQ quotient she mistakenly believes to be his temperature) and enrolls him in school. The devoted Daisy waits for him to get out and gets involved in a chase with the local dog catchers that could have been a lot funnier but wraps up too fast. Dagwood becomes involved in a scam with a real estate developer, looses his job, and becomes a suspect in a supposed kidnapping. The first half of the film is filled with slapstick and witty lines from the precocious Mummert and the sardonic Larry Sims (Baby Dumpling) who seems to be like Don Rickles trapped in a tot's body. The second half, however, becomes much more serious with a storyline involving Daisy and a little girl in a wheelchair (future child star Peggy Ann Garner) culminating in a very touching finale.

Other memorable moments include postman Irving Bacon's attempt to avoid a collision with Dagwood, boss Jonathan Hale's attempts to cool off after discovering Dagwood's latest blunder, and Blondie's encounter with a door-to-door genius tester who is really selling psychology encyclopedias. I truly would like to see the original release prints of these films which don't have a five minute preview of what's going to happen before the sitcom like song opening begins. They would seem truer to the time period in which these films were made rather than trying to update them to whenever they were released for T.V. viewing.
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Blondie Brings Up Baby was another enjoyable series entry
tavm14 June 2015
Warning: Spoilers
This is the fourth in the Blondie movie series. The plot in a nutshell: A book salesman comes to the house and concludes Baby Dumpling is a genius based on something he and Alvin did. Dagwood gets fired (again!) because the client lied about liking his plans. After the Bumstead son starts going to school because of what I previously said about him, Daisy-having walked with him on the way-is sent to the dog pound where she gets bought for a little wheelchair-bound girl named Miranda (Peggy Ann Garner). I'll stop there and just say this was both a pretty funny and touching entry in the series. The part when Miranda actually walks was perhaps the most inspiring of scenes in the movie, especially when it got underscored by an instrumental version of "O Come, O Ye Faithful" (And is probably why this particular entry was released about a few weeks before December). In summary, Blondie Brings Up Baby was another worthy series entry. P.S. It was about this time that the movie's stars-Penny Singleton and Arthur Lake-also started portraying their characters on a weekly radio series starting the previous summer. This was probably the result of their appearing on Bob Hope's show the previous December which I heard recently on YouTube. It was amusing if a bit too silly for my tastes. Also, it's here that Baby Dumpling's real name is revealed to be Dagwood, after his father. Of course, when comic strip creator Chic Young renames him Alexander a few years later, that part gets ignored when he also gets that name in the movie series! One more thing-Grace Stafford, best known as the voice of Woody Woodpecker which was created by her hubby-Walter Lantz, is the nurse who initiates buying Daisy despite her employer not approving, at first.
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