Freckles Comes Home (January 2, 1942)
Released on January 2, 1942: A Chicago gangster fleeing the law is murdered while hiding out in a small Indiana town, and his henchmen come after him to finish the job of robbing the town bank.
Produced by Lindsley Parsons
Directed by Jean Yarbrough
Written by Gene Stratton-Porter with screenplay by Edmond Kelso
The Actors: Johnny Downs ('Freckles' Winslow), Gale Storm (Jane Potter, banker's daughter), Mantan Moreland (hotel porter Jeff), Irving Bacon (Constable Caleb Weaver), Bradley Page (Nate Quigley), Marvin Stephens (Danny Doyle), Betty Blythe (Mrs. Minerva Potter), Walter Sande (Jack 'Mugsy' Leach), Max Hoffman Jr. (Hymie), John Ince (Hiram Potter), Laurence Criner (Roxbury B. Brown III, Page's chauffeur), Irving Mitchell (Mr. Winslow), Gene O'Donnell (Monk), Si Jenks (Lem Perkins), Bob Burns (townsman), Rube Dalroy (townsman), Earle Hodgins (machine seller), Murdock MacQuarrie (bus passenger, townsman), Rose Plumer (bus passenger), Al Thompson (dance floor extra)
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Give 'em enough rope and he'll hang someone . . .
I was born in tiny Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, and lived my teen years in even smaller Shanksville, Pennsylvania, but I never lived in a town so small that it had dirt streets and wood board sidewalks like Fairfield, Indiana, the setting for this hilarious comedy.
As our adventure opens we meet Mugsy Leach, a Chicago gangster, who needs to get out of town fast before the cops catch up with him. He hops a bus and sits next to Freckles Winslow, played by Johnny Downs, who is returning to his small home town after going to college in the big city. Mugsy decides that tiny Fairfield, Indiana is the perfect place for him to hide out, so he gets a room at the little hotel on Main Street.
Now, instead of explaining more of the plot, I will give you the pleasure of watching it unfold in its happy little way . . . as the plot itself isn't the fun part of this story . . . it is the people that will put smiles on your face . . . Small town characters who you will recognize if you've ever lived in a small community, because they all exist even today in tiny towns around the world.
You will meet Jane Potter, played by Gale Storm, the skinny little girl who Freckles Winslow played with as a kid, all grown up and looking hot as a firecracker. You will meet her papa Hiram Potter, the stingy and grumpy town banker . . . yes, the banker is Mr. Potter . . . four years before the Christmas classic “It's A Wonderful Life” with its banker Potter.
You'll meet Danny Doyle, played by Marvin Stephens, a young fellow who grew up with Freckles and Jane and has a bit of a problem . . . a small town problem that is vital to him, but in the big scheme of things isn't terribly earth-shattering.
You will meet Jeff the hotel porter, played by the legendary African-American comedy actor Mantan Moreland, with some of his funniest lines ever.
You will meet Constable Caleb Weaver, played by veteran character actor Irving Bacon, and watch the old fellow stumble his way through his first murder investigation.
Sure, in the final scene Freckles and Jane Potter kiss and live happily ever after, but this is not a romantic heart-throb story, it is a hilarious small town comedy crime adventure that will keep you smiling and eagerly waiting for the next plot line and the next reason to laugh. Pop a big bowl of white kernel popcorn with plenty of warm melted butter drizzled over it and enjoy the show.
Betty Blythe and John Ince
Gale Storm, Bradley Page and Johnny Downs
Gale Storm and Bradley Page
Gale Storm and Johnny Downs
Irving Bacon and Si Jenks
John Ince as Hiram Potter
Johnny Downs and Marvin Stephens
Johnny Downs and Walter Sande
Laurence Criner and Mantan Moreland
Mantan Moreland and Laurence Criner
Marvin Stephens and Gale Storm
Marvin Stephens and Johnny Downs
Marvin Stephens and Mantan Moreland
Max Hoffman Jr. and Gene O'Donnell
Max Hoffman Jr.
Walter Sande and Mantan Moreland