For a few weeks, I am mentioning series movies. By “series”, I am not referring to the serials that came out each week, like Flash Gordon or Captain Midnight. Instead, I am referring to movies that had sequels, seemingly, ad infinitum. The public would take to a character(s) and studios would realize that more of these movies would be successful/profitable. To my way of thinking, the Andy Hardy movies, with 15 sequels, was the King of Series. But there were others, as they served as the television of the time. Just as we couldn’t get enough of Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer, America in the 30’s and 40’s couldn’t get enough of their favorite characters.
This week, I’m going to mention one of the most popular series of its day, Blondie. Created as a spin-off of the popular comic strip, the first Blondie movie was released in 1938, to be followed by 27 more Blondie films by the time the series ended, in 1950. Twenty-eight Blondie films vs. only 16 for Andy Hardy? And you say Andy Hardy is the King of Series? Yes, I maintain that for two reasons. First, the Andy Hardy films were true films, while the Blondie movies were pretty much formulaic. Each Blondie was 70 minutes long, had the same intro (like a TV show), and had the same running gags sprinkled throughout. The Blondies seemed to be an extension of the comicstrip, and not a true artistic attempt. Second, look at the stars. Several of the Andy Hardy movies had Judy Garland, and having such legends as Rooney and Garland lifts beyond the reach of Blondie.
Just as in the comics, the star of the piece was Dagwood Bumstead, a loveable, bumbling husband who worked for a hard task manager of a boss, J. C. Dithers. Blondie is always the smarter of the two and is always getting Dagwood out of the predicaments that he manages to find himself in. Blondie was played by character actor Penny Singleton and Dagwood by Arthur Lake, who said of the role that he wished he could play it forever.
Here is a short clip of the opening credits of the first Blondie movie, plus one short scene giving you all you need to know about the Bumsteads. If you are interested, there are several full Blondie movies on YouTube.