Papa’s Delicate Condition (1963)


Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB

USA, 1963Screenplay by , based on the book by Cinematography by Produced by Jack Rose.  Music by Production Design by , Costume Design by Film Editing by .  

Jackie Gleason is delightful in this slim but endearing comedy. He plays a turn of the century railroad superintendent, popular with the citizens of his town and so madly in love with his family that his adoration reaches disconcerting heights whenever he has a few too many drinks and gets into what his genteel wife (Glynis Johns) can only refer to as his “delicate condition”. When Johns complains that their neighbour’s garishly painted purple house offends her eyes, Gleason convinces the man to re-paint it; when the local drugstore owner doesn’t allow his employee to take him off to see to his wife while she’s in labour, Gleason buys the store outright and appoints the young man manager. The straw that breaks the camel’s back, however, is when Gleason’s beloved daughter Corrie (whose real-life counterpart wrote the memoir upon which this film is based) falls in love with a horse at the circus and Papa writes a cheque to take over the big top operation lock, stock and barrel. Wiping out his savings and turning his family destitute, our adorable hero is distraught when his wife reacts by packing up the children and heading to her father’s house in Texarcana, leaving him to consider his way of life and figure out a way to get his family back. There are plenty of laughs and the whole thing is ridiculously fluffy, but it’s so charming you won’t be able to resist it.

Academy Award:  Best Original Song (“Call Me Irresponsible”)


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