The Wiggs family plan to celebrate Thanksgiving in their rundown shack with leftover stew, without Mr. Wiggs who wandered off long ago an has never been heard from. Do-gooder Miss Lucy brings them a real feast. Her boyfriend Bob arranges to take Wiggs\' sick boy to a hospital. Their other boy makes some money peddling kindling and takes the family to a show. Mrs. Wiggs is called to the hopsital just in time to see her boy die. Her neighbor Miss Mazy wants to marry Mr. Stubbins who insists on tasting her cooking. Mrs. Wiggs sneaks her dishes past Stubbins who agrees to marriage. Mr. Wiggs appears suddenly, in tatters, with just the amount of money (twenty dollars) needed to save the family from foreclosure. Miss Lucy and Bob get married.
Pauline Lord ... Mrs. Elvira Wiggs
W.C. Fields ... Mr. C. Ellsworth Stubbins
Zasu Pitts ... Miss Tabitha Hazy, Spinster
Evelyn Venable ... Lucy Olcott
Kent Taylor ... Bob Redding, Masonville Newspaper Editor
Charles Middleton ... Mr. Bagby
Donald Meek ... Mr. Hiram Wiggs
Jimmy Butler ... Bill Wiggs
George P. Breakston ... Jimmy Wiggs (as George Breakston)
Edith Fellows ... Australia Wiggs
Virginia Weidler ... Europena Wiggs
Carmencita Johnson ... Asia Wiggs
George Reed ... Julius, Olcott\'s Servant
Mildred Gover ... Priscilla, Olcott\'s Maid
Arthur Housman ... Dick Harris, Drunk
With her husband in the Klondike searching for gold, MRS. WIGGS OF THE CABBAGE PATCH (the poor part of town) valiantly strives against heavy odds to care for her five children.
Based on the book by Helen Hegan Rice, this is a wonderfully sentimental look at a bygone era of Americana. While it is easy and perhaps even fashionable to scoff at films which touch the emotions, there is absolutely nothing wrong with sentimentality if the sentiment expressed rings honest & true. There are no false notes here.
Noted stage actress Pauline Lord (1890-1950), in the first of only three film appearances, is heartrending in the title role. Gentle & patient, she is the very epitome of loving motherhood. ZaSu Pitts (1898-1963), with vague voice & fluttering fingers, gives a noteworthy performance as the Wiggs\' spinster neighbor. Had events proceeded differently and her contributions to von Stroheim\'s GREED justly appreciated, Miss Pitts would have been recognized as one of the screen\'s greatest tragediennes. Instead, she orbited into comedic roles, constantly portraying a nervous, scatterbrained female, a sort of living, breathing, Olive Oyl.
Following the film\'s most sorrowful sequence, director Norman Taurog wanted to introduce a light touch to the succeeding scenes. The inimitable W. C. Fields was brought in for one week\'s work to play Miss Pitts\' gustatorial suitor. Although in much pain from a torn ligament, he is splendid, delivering what is almost a dress rehearsal for his subsequent characterization of the marvelous Micawber. His scenes with Miss Pitts are a special delight, mixing blustery braggadocio with humor & pathos.
The romantic angle is nicely underplayed by Evelyn Venable & Kent Taylor, portraying upper echelon protectors of the Wiggs family. Charles Middleton does well as the obligatory villainous landlord. Young George P. Breakston is especially good as the ethereal Jimmy; and Donald Meek scores in his tiny role as Mrs. Wiggs ineffectual husband.
Movie mavens will recognize Arthur Housman in his typical role of an inebriate & Dell Henderson as the theater manager, both unbilled.
Tender & charming, here is a film which the receptive viewer should cherish.
I enjoy this movie immensely. You don\'t have to think, you can just sit and laugh, or cry, or whatever it makes you feel like doing. I laugh, simply because I am not a teary person.
This film stars Pauline Lord as Mrs. Wiggs, a woman who lives in a quaint almost-slum. If my memory serves me correctly, Pauline Lord was an established Broadway actress who played this role on the stage. She has it down pat, that\'s for sure. The main problem I had with her performance, and it\'s a small problem, is that she tends to be a little too soft-spoken. Seeing as my copy isn\'t very good quality, there were long stretches when her mouth was moving and I didn\'t hear anything. Then I turned up the volume on my TV--problem solved. Honestly, I thought she did a marvelous job...she defines the word \"heartwarming.\" That sounds ridiculous, I know, but I just love her in this. I\'ve never seen her in anything else, so perhaps this was one of those \"Bring the Broadway star to relive her greatest triumph\" things, like Shirley Booth.
The best thing about this little movie, at least in my opinion, is ZaSu Pitts. She was a great dramatic actress until sound came in, when her singsong monotone undermined her ability. It\'s displayed to good advantage here. Her first line in the movie is an example. She says something along the lines of \"Animals just seem to run out from under me like chickens from under a hen.\" The way she says it just kills me. I feel bad for her though, losing her star status simply because she sounded like a bored tea kettle. Fortunately, though, one element of her silent screen acting remains. The character she plays, Miss Hazy (whom Mrs. Wiggs introduces to everyone as the maiden lady from next door), is a very flighty, nervous person, as spinsters are rumored to be. When she goes through her \"book of sweethearts\" and gets caught, her hands flutter about like panicked butterflies. She\'s being awkward in an extremely graceful way--it\'s difficult to explain. Miss Hazy finally gets her wish when her husband arrives, in the portly form of W.C. Fields. (Does \"W.C.\" stand for \"water closet,\" you think?) She probably regrets wishing, one has to think.
The children in the film are suitably saccharine, but Virginia Weidler (from \"The Philadelphia Story\") is as obnoxious as kids come. She taunts Miss Hazy by holding her breath, saying \"I\'ll turn black in the face!\" The other children were played by people I didn\'t recognize. Billy, one of the two boys, is the \"man\" of the family, and acts as such. He isn\'t above showing emotion though, as he cries with the best of them. Also of note is the awfully sway-backed horse Billy is given. That animal looked as though he\'d had a rough life, but Mrs. Wiggs has a magic touch. The scene where they revive the almost dead horse is amusing, with Mrs. Wiggs telling the children to cheer for him but warning them against \"overyelling.\" If they yell too loudly, they might tip him over and then they\'d never get him up again. Once he\'s finally on his feet, Mrs. Wiggs and Miss Hazy hold him up until they\'re sure he can stand upright.
All in all, a cute little movie. That\'s the word for it--cute. If you don\'t like sweet little greeting cards from yesteryear, then this isn\'t your thing.
I never forgot this old, old movie that I watched several times as a child probably 50 years ago. Black and white, of course, with W. C. Fields stealing freshly-baked pies from Mrs. Wiggs\' window sill. It is a time capsule of its times and although Mrs. Wiggs is about to be evicted from her impoverished little shack, she is saved by a young man and woman, who may be a social worker and her wealthy fiancé. Or maybe not.
I only remember the strong emotions this film evoked in me and my little brother, who used to sit on the floor in front of the TV with me while we watched it together. I am afraid it is lost in the shuffle forever but long to see it one more time. Mores the pity.