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Li'l Abner
Li'l Abner
Actors: Peter Palmér, Leslie Parrish, Stubby Kaye, Howard St. John
Director: Melvin Frank
Genres: Classics, Comedy, Kids & Family
NR     2005     1hr 54min

LI?L ABNER, the beloved cartoon strip from Al Capp, takes place in the hillbilly town of Dogpatch, which is deemed the most useless community in America. When the city is chosen as a test site for A-bombs, its colorful ci...  more »

     

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Movie Details

Actors: Peter Palmér, Leslie Parrish, Stubby Kaye, Howard St. John
Director: Melvin Frank
Creators: Daniel L. Fapp, Melvin Frank, Arthur P. Schmidt, Norman Panama, Al Capp
Genres: Classics, Comedy, Kids & Family
Sub-Genres: Classics, Comedy, Classics
Studio: Paramount
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen
DVD Release Date: 04/19/2005
Release Year: 2005
Run Time: 1hr 54min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 6
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

Fun-filled satire
Chrijeff | Scranton, PA | 02/05/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"It may not be a classic, but "Li'l Abner" is a lively movie with a convoluted storyline that does credit to its creator, the late Al Capp. All the characters are here: Hairless Joe and Lonesome Polecat, brewers extraordinaire of Kickapoo Joy Juice; Moonbeam McSwine (Carmen Alvarez), who sings that "sleepin' out with pigs is my line;" Earthquake McGoon (Bern Hoffman), the "world's champeen dirty rassler," who is so besotted with the beautiful Daisy Mae (Parrish) that he conspires with Senator Jack S. Phogbound (Ted Thurston) to get Dogpatch evacuated and destroyed so its inhabitants will be forced to give up their cherished tradition of Sadie Hawkins Day, under which no man can marry a girl unless she first catches him in the annual race (Daisy, of course, has eyes only for Li'l Abner); Available Jones (William Lanteau), the avaricious storekeeper, and his cousin, the statuesque Stupefyin' (Julie Newmar), whose body can stop any red-blooded male dead in his tracks; General Bullmoose (Howard St. John), the world's richest man, who dreams of owning "all the money in the world," and his "executive secretary," the redheaded Appassionatta Von Climax (Stella Stevens), who plot to gain control of the formula for Yokumberry Tonic (even unto planning Abner's murder); Evil-Eye Fleagle (Al Nesor), the scurrying Brooklynite with an arsenal of "whammies," who hires out to further their plan; "mystical" and "pugilistical" Mammy Yokum (Billie Hayes), who originated the tonic, and her henpecked husband Pappy (Joe E. Marks); Marryin' Sam (Kaye), who returns "home" to Dogpatch every year to unite the Sadie Hawkins victors and their captives in holy matrimony; and, of course, the devoted Daisy and her reluctant swain, naïve and patriotic Abner (Palmer). Adapted by Melvin Frank (who also directed) and Norman Panama (who produced) from their stage version, it turns upon the efforts of the Dogpatchers to save their town by finding "something valuable"--which seems at first blush to be Mammy's tonic, brewed from the fruits of the world's only Yokumberry tree. This tonic, which makes men youthful and physically perfect, is instantly coveted by the government and General Bullmoose alike--but it has the unfortunate side-effect of making the user completely disinclined to romance, hence Abner's stiff resistance to being "caught" by Daisy Mae, even though he is fond of her. In the end, Daisy is willing to sacrifice herself (as Earthquake's bride) to gain her suitor's help for her beloved Abner, but it's Pappy Yokum who saves the day with shrewd psychology. And Dogpatch is saved too, by a most unexpected revelation.Casting and makeup are to be commended for creating an assortment of characters that match Capp's vision uncannily (as do Alvin Colt's costumes); I'm always particularly impressed at the size difference between Li'l Abner and his parents. Michael Kidd offers several dance numbers of great verve in "Don't That Take the Rag Offen the Bush," "Jubilation T. Cornpone," and "The Matrimonial Stomp." The cartoonist's satirical tone is echoed in Palmer and Kaye's duet, "The Country's in the Very Best of Hands," and Palmer and Parrish's two numbers, "Namely Me" (a frequent catchphrase from the strip) and "Otherwise," deserve to be better known. The entire movie was, of course, shot on sound stages, but considering its previous incarnation on Broadway that should be little distraction. Its broadly portrayed "hillbillies" and occasional '50's chauvinism are far from politically correct, but it should appeal to kids (who will probably miss the double entendres and the sharp pokes at government, big biz, and the like, and just enjoy the laughs) and adults alike."
I'd Druther Be In Dogpatch
Cowboy Buddha | Essex UK | 08/26/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I'm sorry but I really love this movie. Not only a thoroughly enjoyable old-fashioned musical comedy, but also one of the most successful transitions of a Broadway show from stage to screen. Probably because they didn't try to "open it out" too much but kept to its theatrical origins and style by filming entirely on sound stages against cartoon-ish backdrops and sets. The show is, after all, based on a famous comic strip and the film is able to recreate that look much better than any stage production could. The result is a high-energy, fast-paced, knee-slappingly funny, rip-roaring musical amusement.

The ever reliable team of Melvin Frank and Norman Panama not only managed to bring Li'l Abner to the screen virtually intact, they also brought along some of the key members of the original cast, most notably Stubby Kaye (never better) as Marryin' Sam and the amazing Peter Palmer as Li'l Abner. The screen is also filled with attractive and scantily-clad (in the best possible taste) females including winsome Leslie Parrish as Daisy Mae, stunning Julie Newmar as Stupefyin' Jones, and delectable Stella Stevens as the wonderfully named Appassionata Von Climax. All the familiar Dogpatch characters are there, back by the most energetic chorus line ever seen.

If the film occasionally brings to mind that other classic backwoods musical Seven Brides For Seven Brothers, that's because the songs are by Johnny Mercer and Gene De Paul and the show's original choreography was by Michael Kidd - all of whom contributed so effectively to that earlier film.

Li'l Abner is nothing if not fun with a decidedly bawdy and occasional cynical sense of humor that ranges from terrible puns and double entendres to slightly risque observations on male/female relationships to political satire. The satire is not as dated as you might think - just listen to the song "The Country's In The Very Best Of Hands".

The world was a different place back when Li'l Abner was made and, of course, there really isn't a Dogpatch. But it's still a wonderful place to visit for a couple of hours. What I wouldn't give for a restored, widescreen, stereo DVD of this film..."
Political satire that was ahead of its time
Cowboy Buddha | 06/05/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)

"We live in a world where dangerous nuclear testing, corrupt politicians, ruthless big business, and uncomfortable gender role reversals are the norm. Why didn't we listen to Norman Panama and Melvin Frank back in 1957 when the movie of Li'l Abner was made? The jokes may be corny (with double entendres that must have gone straight over the head of the Hayes Office)...but the satire is biting and still relevant today. It was consciously campy before they even invented camp. The producers pulled off a miraculous feat of casting to get actors and singers who resemble the preposterously proportioned cartoon characters of Al Capp. Watch for an uncredited cameo from Jerry Lewis, a stupefyingly gorgeous Julie Newmar as Stupefyin' Jones, and a beautifully underplayed Stella Stevens as Appassionata von Climax (see what I mean about the double entendres...she gets the best lines in the film!) Often, when a stage musical is translated to film, the producers place it in a naturalistic setting...like "South Pacific", for example. In many ways, I think that demeans it; the movie setting is less of a fantasy world than it was in stage. No such attempt with Li'l Abner. The crazy cartoon world fits perfectly into a studio set that looks like it was drawn rather than constructed. Oh, by the way. I want General Bullmoose's limousine. It must be worth a fortune, now..."
I've been looking for this for 20 years!
Cowboy Buddha | 05/27/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I loved this musical as a kid and still hum the music from the numbers which I remember better than some of the biggest spectacles on Broadway and film today. As with the above review, our local high school also put on this musical quite successfully. Having never seen it on video, and seen it only twice (once on film, one high school production) as a child, I can still remember the words to the songs--try that today even with some of the videos your kids watch over and over--NOT LIKELY! It's not Rogers and Hammerstein, but the satire was hysterical in the fifties--and it still seems funnier than half of what's on TV today!"