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HISTORY

The film opens with a brief prologue in which "Betty," who is in a train dining car, explains to an unappreciative waiter, who has just dropped and broken an egg, the work that went into producing it. The order of the opening and ending cast credits differs slightly. In the opening, Percy Kilbride and Marjorie Main, who play "Ma and Pa Kettle," are listed together, and in the end credits they are separated. Although a HR production chart places Ann Shoemaker in the cast, she was not in the released film. According to the Var review, this was Universal's first big-budget picture after its merger with International. It also marked the first time that writers Chester Erskine and Fred F. Finklehoffe produced their own screenplay. For the film, they created the character of the other woman, "Harriet Putnam," who did not exist in Betty MacDonald's semi-autobiographical novel. The book was on the best seller list for over eighteen months and the film became one of Universal's top-grossing pictures in the late 1940s.
       The film marked the first screen appearance of "Ma and Pa Kettle," who became so popular that Universal decided to develop a series around them. For more information about the "Ma and Pa Kettle" Series, please see the entry below for Ma and Pa Kettle . Main, who was borrowed from M-G-M to appear in this picture, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance. According to a 1951 LAT news item, the Bishop family in Northwest Washington sued MacDonald, claiming that she based the characters of ... More Less

The film opens with a brief prologue in which "Betty," who is in a train dining car, explains to an unappreciative waiter, who has just dropped and broken an egg, the work that went into producing it. The order of the opening and ending cast credits differs slightly. In the opening, Percy Kilbride and Marjorie Main, who play "Ma and Pa Kettle," are listed together, and in the end credits they are separated. Although a HR production chart places Ann Shoemaker in the cast, she was not in the released film. According to the Var review, this was Universal's first big-budget picture after its merger with International. It also marked the first time that writers Chester Erskine and Fred F. Finklehoffe produced their own screenplay. For the film, they created the character of the other woman, "Harriet Putnam," who did not exist in Betty MacDonald's semi-autobiographical novel. The book was on the best seller list for over eighteen months and the film became one of Universal's top-grossing pictures in the late 1940s.
       The film marked the first screen appearance of "Ma and Pa Kettle," who became so popular that Universal decided to develop a series around them. For more information about the "Ma and Pa Kettle" Series, please see the entry below for Ma and Pa Kettle . Main, who was borrowed from M-G-M to appear in this picture, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance. According to a 1951 LAT news item, the Bishop family in Northwest Washington sued MacDonald, claiming that she based the characters of "Ma and Pa Kettle" on them. The case was decided in MacDonald's favor. The proceeds from the Los Angeles premiere of the film went to the Damon Runyon fund for cancer research. The Egg and I was the last picture of actor Vic Potel, who died on 8 Mar 1947. On 5 May 1947, Lux Radio Theatre broadcast a radio version of the story starring Fred MacMurray and Claudette Colbert. In 1951, CBS featured a daytime television series based on the novel, starring Pat Kirkland and John Craven. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
American Cinematographer
May 47
p. 161.
Box Office
5 Apr 1947.
---
Daily Variety
24 Mar 1947.
---
Film Daily
24 Mar 47
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Aug 46
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Aug 46
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Oct 46
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Jan 47
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Mar 47
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Mar 47
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
7 May 47
p. 15.
Independent Film Journal
4 Jan 47
p. 35.
Los Angeles Examiner
13 Mar 1947.
---
Los Angeles Times
23 Feb 1951.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
29 Mar 47
p. 3549.
New York Times
25 Apr 47
p. 29.
Variety
26 Mar 47
p. 12.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
2d unit dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Wrt for the screen by
Wrt for the screen by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Prod des
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
MUSIC
MAKEUP
Hairstylist
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Egg and I by Betty MacDonald (Philadelphia, 1945).
DETAILS
Release Date:
May 1947
Premiere Information:
World premiere in Los Angeles: 21 March 1947
Production Date:
early October 1946--early January 1947
Copyright Claimant:
Universal Pictures Co., inc.
Copyright Date:
1 April 1947
Copyright Number:
LP1040
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
108
Country:
United States
PCA No:
12222
SYNOPSIS

While shaving one morning, World War II veteran Bob ecstatically informs his new bride Betty that he has quit his mundane job in the city for the idyllic life of raising chickens in the country. Driving a decrepit truck crammed with livestock, the newlyweds soon venture into the mountains and arrive at their new home, a dilapidated old shack. As Bob bubbles on about their wonderful new life, Betty contends with a leaky roof and recalcitrant stove. On their first night, Bob plots a timetable for breeding livestock over the next year, including the birth of the couple's first baby. Rising before sunrise the following day, Bob and Betty are visited by their neighbor, Pa Kettle, who promptly borrows the load of wood and bucket of nails that Bob has just purchased to build a chicken coop. That afternoon, Betty is terrified when she looks up from her stove and sees two Indians, Geoduck and Crowbar, who have come to sell fish, peering through her kitchen window. Reluctant to deprive the chickens of their eggs, Betty decides instead to lead Cleopatra the pig into her pen. Just as Cleopatra pitches Betty into the mud, Harriet Putnam, the glamorous divorcee who owns the neighboring Bella Vista Farm, arrives and effortlessly coaxes the pig. Betty's next visitor is Billy Reed, a persistent traveling salesman who unsuccessfully pesters her to buy his wares. When Tom Kettle, Pa's son, who has come to help out at the farm, confides his dreams of attending college, Betty decides to visit Tom's family to plead his case. As Betty saunters down the road to the Kettle farm, she is offered a ride ... +


While shaving one morning, World War II veteran Bob ecstatically informs his new bride Betty that he has quit his mundane job in the city for the idyllic life of raising chickens in the country. Driving a decrepit truck crammed with livestock, the newlyweds soon venture into the mountains and arrive at their new home, a dilapidated old shack. As Bob bubbles on about their wonderful new life, Betty contends with a leaky roof and recalcitrant stove. On their first night, Bob plots a timetable for breeding livestock over the next year, including the birth of the couple's first baby. Rising before sunrise the following day, Bob and Betty are visited by their neighbor, Pa Kettle, who promptly borrows the load of wood and bucket of nails that Bob has just purchased to build a chicken coop. That afternoon, Betty is terrified when she looks up from her stove and sees two Indians, Geoduck and Crowbar, who have come to sell fish, peering through her kitchen window. Reluctant to deprive the chickens of their eggs, Betty decides instead to lead Cleopatra the pig into her pen. Just as Cleopatra pitches Betty into the mud, Harriet Putnam, the glamorous divorcee who owns the neighboring Bella Vista Farm, arrives and effortlessly coaxes the pig. Betty's next visitor is Billy Reed, a persistent traveling salesman who unsuccessfully pesters her to buy his wares. When Tom Kettle, Pa's son, who has come to help out at the farm, confides his dreams of attending college, Betty decides to visit Tom's family to plead his case. As Betty saunters down the road to the Kettle farm, she is offered a ride by Mrs. Hicks and her eccentric mother, who tactlessly predict the failure of the newlyweds' farm. At the Kettles', Betty is greeted by a boisterous brood of children and livestock. When Betty relates Tom's dream of going to college, the big-hearted, but slovenly Ma Kettle replies that the entire family is dependent upon his earnings. At Harriet's invitation, Bob and Betty visit her luxurious Bella Vista Farm, where Betty becomes jealous when Harriet begins to flirt with her husband. To rekindle Bob's ardor, Betty dons her wedding dress and in response, Bob dresses in his tuxedo. As the couple dances, Mr. Henty, a taciturn egg buyer, appears in their living room. Unimpressed by their finery, Henty leaves without agreeing to buy any eggs. When Betty, who has become friends with Ma, makes her a new dress for the big dance, Ma gives her a quilt she has just finished sewing. On the night of the party, Betty is asked to dance by a string of idiosyncratic partners while Harriet monopolizes Bob, thus infuriating Betty. The party comes to an abrupt end when the sheriff announces that the Kettles' barn has caught fire and the flames are spreading throughout the valley. Bob and Betty struggle to save their farm, but when the wind shifts, the blaze destroys their outbuildings and crops. The next morning, their neighbors rally to help them rebuild the farm, and Henty offers them a two-year egg contract. To earn money for Tom's tuition, Betty decides to enter Ma's quilt in the county fair. Upon learning that all the judges are cousins of the Hicks and consequently award prizes only to members of their family, Betty bribes Billy Reed, who is charge of the fair, to give the quilting prize to Ma. As Betty and Ma enjoy the rides at the fair, Harriet lures Bob to her farm by offering to sell him the property. After Ma's quilt is awarded first prize, Betty faints and Ma declares that she must be pregnant. That night, Betty prepares a celebratory dinner, and as she eagerly awaits Bob's arrival, Emily, an old lady, comes to the door, introduces Betty to her invisible husband and regales her with stories about vicious giant chickens. Soon after, the sheriff comes to claim Emily and explains that she used to live at the farm before going insane after her husband ran off with another woman. Late that night, a messenger delivers a note from Bob, notifying Betty that he has been delayed. In a jealous rage, Betty packs her suitcases and returns to the city to live with her mother. Over the months, Betty refuses to open the outpouring of letters that Bob has mailed her. After giving birth to a baby girl, however, she decides to reconcile with him and boards a train headed for the country. At the station, Betty hails a cab and instructs the driver to take her to Bob's house. When the driver stops at Bella Vista Farm, Betty is furious until she discovers that Bob is the property's new owner. After Bob informs Betty that he was delayed the night of the fair because he was busy cajoling Harriet into selling him the farm, they embrace and Betty produces their daughter, reminding him that they are right on schedule. Bob then dashes off to resolve another crisis at the chicken house. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.