Li’l Abner

  • Paramount, 1959, Color, 113 minutes, ***
  • Released December, 1959

The U.S. government has determined that A-Bomb testing in Nevada is causing fallout in Las Vegas, threatening an essential industry, so a survey was undertaken in order to move the testing to the most unessential location in the country. And, of course, Dogpatch USA was found to be that most unessential place. So all residents of Dogpatch are asked to evacuate so testing may be resumed there.

In an attempt to save their homes, the Dogpatch citizens gather together everything they can find that might be considered essential, but it’s Mammy’s Yokumberry tonic, made from the berries of a tree that grows only in the Yokums’ yard, that postpones the testing while the government takes six local husbands to Washington as guinea pigs for testing of the tonic to determine if it might be “essential.”

When villainous General Bullmoose hears of the tonic, he sets about to get the formula in order to sell the stuff and get even richer. He sends his private secretary Appassionata to the Dogpatch Sadie Hawkins day race to catch Abner for a mate – with a little help from Evil Eye Fleagle, who can zap men into a frozen state with his magic. He can stop Abner in his tracks so that Appassionata can catch him easily. Only trouble is, Abner has promised Daisy Mae that he will let her catch him this year so they can finally be married. But if Bullmoose has his way, Appassionata will catch Abner and then he and Appassionata will do away with Abner, leaving Appassionata the sole owner of the formula. But things get a little complicated when the government finds that the potion has one little flaw.

In the meantime, Daisy Mae has made a big sacrifice by promising to marry Earthquake McGoon in return for him going to Washington to save Abner. And so he does, which leaves Abner and Daisy Mae hurting bad. The wedding day comes, and just at the last moment as Marryin’ Sam is about to make Earthquake and Daisy Mae matrimonified, Pappy comes up with an idea to save the day.

Overall, it’s a pretty cute movie. Beautifully stylized sets, plenty of beautiful leggy girls, colorful costumes and some very amazing makeup along with lots of music and dancing The plot plays like the familiar mellerdrammer story with a villain, a damsel in distress and a hero. Guaranteed to please!

Details

  • Produced by: Norman Panama
  • Assistant to the Producer: Hal C. Kern
  • Directed by: Melvin Frank
  • Assistant Director: C. C. Coleman, Jr.
  • Written by: Norman Panama and Melvin Frank
  • Based on the characters created by Al Capp
  • Lyrics by: Johnny Mercer
  • Music by: Gene de Paul
  • Music Scored and Conducted by: Nelson Riddle and Joseph J. Lilley
  • Vocal Arrangements by: Joseph J. Lilley
  • Adapted from the Stage Production:
  • Vocals by Lehman Engel
  • Orchestrations by Philip J. Lang
  • Ballet Music Arranged by Genevieve Pitot
  • Musical Numbers Staged by: Dee Dee Wood
  • Based on the Original Staging by: Michael Kidd
  • Art Direction: Hal Pereira and J. McMillan Johnson
  • Set Decoration: Sam Comer and Grace Gregory
  • Stage Production Scenery by: William and Jean Eckart
  • Costumes Designed by: Alvin Colt
  • Wardrobe Executed by: Yvonne Wood
  • Makeup Supervision: Wally Westmore
  • Hair Style Supervision: Nellie Manley
  • Dialogue Coach: Terence Little
  • Sound Recording by: Harold Lewis, Charles Grenzbach
  • Technicolor Color Consultant: Richard Mueller
  • Director of Photography: Daniel L. Fapp
  • Special Photographic Effects: John P. Fulton
  • Edited by: Arthur P. Schmidt

Cast

  • Peter Palmer [Li’l Abner]
  • Leslie Parrish [Daisy Mae]
  • Stubby Kaye [Marryin’ Sam]
  • Julie Newmar [Stupefyin’ Jones]
  • Howard St. John [General Bullmoose]
  • Stella Stevens [Appassionata Von Climax]
  • Billie Hayes [Mammy Yokum]
  • Joe E. Marks [Pappy Yokum]
  • Bern Hoffman [Earthquake McGoon]
  • Al Nessor [Evil Eye Fleagle]
  • Robert Strauss [Romeo Scragg]
  • William Lanteau [Available Jones]
  • Ted Thurston [Sen. Jack S. Phogbound]
  • Carmen Alvarez [Moonbeam McSwine]
  • Alan Carney [Mayor Dawgmeat]
  • Stanley Simmonds [Rasmussen T. Finsdale]
  • Jerry Lewis [cameo]
  • Imogene Lynn [singing voice of Leslie Parrish]
  • Chester Conklin [unknown part]
  • Donna Douglas [unknown part]

Musical Program

  • [0:01] It’s a Typical Day (sung by Peter Palmer and Chorus with short solos by Carmen Alvarez, Stubby Kaye, Bern Hoffman, Leslie Parris dubbed by Imogene Lynn, Joe E. Marks, Billie Hayes – each of the principals introduces themselves in song)
  • [0:14] If I Had My Druthers (sung by Peter Palmer and Ensemble)
  • [0:18] Jubilation T. Cornpone (sung and danced by Stubby Kaye and Ensemble)
  • [0:25] Unnecessary Town (partly sung, mostly instrumental danced by Ensemble)
  • [0:37] Namely You (sung by Imogene Lynn dubbing for Leslie Parrish and Peter Palmer)
  • [0:47] What’s Good for General Bullmoose (excerpt sung by Bullmoose’s Goons)
  • [0:55] What’s Good for General Bullmoose (excerpt sung by Stella Stevens, Ted Thurston and Bull Moose’s Goons)
  • [0:55] Unnecessary Town (short excerpt sung as “Necessary Town” by Ensemble)
  • [0:56] The Country’s in the Very Best of Hands (sung by Peter Palmer, Stubby Kaye and Chorus
  • interestingly cynical view of the government)
  • [1:17] I’m Past My Prime (sung by Imogene Lynn dubbing for Leslie Parrish and Stubby Kaye – very cute number!)
  • [1:24] What’s Good for General Bullmoose (excerpt sung by Stella Stevens, Ted Thurston, Stanley Simmonds and Bull Moose’s Goons)
  • [1:28] In Society (?) (instrumental danced at party)
  • [1:35] Put ‘Em Back (sung by Carmen Alvarez and the wives of the guinea pigs)
  • [1:40] I Wish It Could Be Otherwise (sung by Imogene Lynn dubbing for Leslie Parrish and Peter Palmer – their only romantic duet)
  • [1:47] The Matrimonial Stomp (excerpt sung by Stubby Kaye and Ensemble)
  • [1:50] Put ‘Em Back (reprised by the wives)
  • [1:53] Jubilation T. Cornpone (reprised by by Stubby Kaye and Chorus)
  • Other song fragments scattered throughout the film