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Li'l Abner
Directed by Melvin Frank
Produced by Norman Panama
Written by Al Capp
Melvin Frank
Starring Peter Palmer
Leslie Parrish
Julie Newmar
Stella Stevens
Music by Gene De Paul
Editing by Arthur P. Schmidt
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date(s) December 11, 1959
Running time 114 minutes
Language English

Li'l Abner is a 1959 musical film based on the comic strip of the same name created by Al Capp. It was also based on a successful Broadway musical that opened in 1956. The movie was produced by Norman Panama and directed by Melvin Frank (co-writers of the Broadway production).

Some music was adapted directly from the Broadway production, but the original portions of the motion picture score were written and conducted by Nelson Riddle and Joseph J. Lilley, which earned them an Oscar nomination for Best Score in 1960 and earned Riddle a Grammy nomination for Best Soundtrack Album. The movie was released on December 11, 1959 by Paramount Pictures.

Almost every major character in the movie was played by the same person who held that role in the original Broadway cast. Notable exceptions are Daisy Mae (played by Edie Adams on Broadway) and Appassionata von Climax (played on stage by Tina Louise).

Contents

Synopsis

It's a "typical day" in Dogpatch, U. S. A., a hillbilly town where Abner Yokum lives with his parents. Mammy Yokum insists on giving Abner his daily dose of "Yokumberry tonic," although he is grown. He has a crush on Daisy Mae Scragg (although he resists marrying her) and she on him; Abner's rival for her affections is the World's Dirtiest Rassler, Earthquake McGoon.

Sadie Hawkins Day is approaching. On this day the "girls chase the men and marries whomstever [sic] they catches," as Senator Jack S. Phogbound puts it. However, the citizens of Dogpatch find out that their town has been declared the most unnecessary place in the country--and will be the target of an atom bomb, since the nuclear testing site near Las Vegas is allegedly spoiling things for the wealthy gamblers there.

The Dogpatch people at first are pleased and excited about leaving Dogpatch forever. But they change their minds when Mammy Yokum points out some of the horrible, awful customs they'll have to adapt to, like regular bathing and (worst of all) going to work for a living. So the now anxious-to-remain Dogpatchers try to muster something necessary about their town to save it. But the government scientist in charge of the bomb testing, Dr. Rasmussen T. Finsdale, rejects all of their suggestions. However, Mammy brings forth her "Yokumberry Tonic", the substance that has made Abner the handsome, muscular, strapping specimen that he is. The only tree in the whole world that grows Yokumberries exists in the Yokum's front yard. Thus, the town of Dogpatch will become "indispensable" to the outside world.

Meanwhile, a greedy business magnate named General Bullmoose covets the tonic as well, since he could market it (as "Yoka-Cola," he tells Abner) and uses his wiles to get the tonic dishonestly. This involves Appassionata von Climax, Bullmoose's mistress. He cooks up a scheme to get Ms. von Climax to marry Abner, after which Li'l Abner would be killed and von Climax would become owner of the tonic, "by community property" [sic], and turn it over to Bullmoose. To begin the plan, Bullmoose orders von Climax to enter the race on Sadie Hawkins Day. She catches Li'l Abner (with help from Evil Eye Fleegle) and Daisy Mae ends up heartbroken. But then Daisy, Mammy, Pappy and Marryin' Sam discover (through Mammy's "Conjurin' Power") what General Bullmoose is up to; and Daisy promises to marry McGoon if he helps them to save Abner's life. McGoon agrees, and rounds up practically everyone in Dogpatch to go to Washington on the rescue mission.

McGoon and the other Dogpatchers disrupt the society party at which Abner is supposed to drink a toast as a prelude to suffering the whammy--and the whammy-giver, Evil Eye Fleegle, says it won't work unless the subject has drunk liquor. So Bullmoose calls for a champagne toast. Fleegle is about to strike with his truth whammy, and McGoon deflects the whammy with a silver platter--and the whammy hits Bullmoose, who confesses his scheme to a policeman.

Meanwhile, the Yokumberry tonic is a failure. Although it made the subjects healthy and muscular, they don't care about romance, to their wives' chagrin, (this also explains why Abner has resisted marrying Daisy for so long). Back at Dogpatch--with the tonic rejected, the bombing is on again--The wedding of McGoon and Daisy Mae is on; Romeo Scragg and his kin are armed to keep Marryin' Sam from stalling. But Daisy Mae shows McGoon the rest of her Scragg relatives (including "Priceless and Liceless" Scragg, and the "Bar Harbor Scragg's" - who've been "barred from every harbor in the Country") and he backs out. Dr. Finsdale returns and orders the wedding stopped in order to evacuate. Pappy Yokum and some of the other Dogpatchers start to pull down an equestrian statue of Jubilation T. Cornpone (the Town's Founder) from a tall pedestal, claiming they won't leave without it. A stone tablet falls, and it turns out to carry an inscription ordered by Abraham Lincoln, who has declared the city of Dogpatch a "National Shrine" because of Cornpone's incompetence as a Confederate General. Abner points out "You can't bomb a national shrine" and Finsdale relents, cancelling the bombing and leaving Abner and Daisy free to marry.

Cast

  • Li'l Abner Yokum played by Peter Palmer
  • Daisy Mae played by Leslie Parrish
  • Marryin' Sam played by Stubby Kaye
  • General Bullmoose played by Howard St. John
  • Appassionata von Climax played by Stella Stevens
  • Stupefyin' Jones played by Julie Newmar
  • Mammy Yokum played by Billie Hayes
  • Pappy Yokum played by Joe E. Marks
  • Earthquake McGoon played by Bern Hoffman
  • Evil Eye Fleagle played by Al Nesor
  • Romeo Scragg played by Robert Strauss
  • Available Jones played by William Lanteau
  • Senator Jack S. Phogbound played by Ted Thurston
  • Moonbeam McSwine played by Carmen Alvarez
  • Mayor Dawgmeat played by Alan Carney
  • Dr. Rasmussen T. Finsdale played by Stanley Simmonds
  • Lonesome Polecat played by Diki Lerner
  • Hairless Joe played by Joe Ploski
  • Dr. Rasmussen T. Finsdale played by Stanley Simmonds
  • Itchy McRabbit played by Jerry Lewis (uncredited)
  • Lovelie played by Donna Douglas (uncredited)
  • Young Hillbilly Girl played by Lesley-Marie Colburn (uncredited)
  • Luke's Wife played by Valerie Harper (uncredited)
  • Clem's Wife played by Beth Howland (uncredited)
  • Muscleman Luke played by Brad Harris (uncredited)

DVD release

See also

External links

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