Friday, April 20, 2018

Louisa ( 1950 ) - When Grandma Starts Neckin'

What do you do with a meddling mother-in-law? That's a subject that has been addressed in many comedies over the years, one of which was Louisa ( 1950 ) which starred Spring Byington as the titular nuisance. Actor and former president Ronald Reagan, who always had a knack for playing comedy, portrayed the leading man in this amusing Universal Pictures comedy that has sadly fallen into the realm of obscurity. 
Hal Norton ( Reagan ) is a well-to-do architect whose life turns upside-down when he discovers that his widowed mother, Louisa, who lives at home with his wife and children, has fallen in love again and plans to re-marry. He had recently encouraged her to stop interfering in the lives of his family and to get out of the house and take part in social activities, but he did not expect her to woo the first man she met! This man happens to be the local grocer, Mr. Hammond ( Edmund Gwenn ), who doesn't resemble Hal's father in the least. Hal's children ( Piper Laurie, Jimmy Hunt ) find grandma's romantic behavior comical, while Hal simply thinks it is absurd. His dislike for Mr. Hammond changes when he invites his boss, Mr. Burnside ( Charles Coburn ), over for dinner and finds that he, too, has become smitten with his mother! Comic mayhem then ensues when the two beaus go head-to-head vying for the attention of the charming Mrs. Norton. 

The script, penned by Stanley Roberts, milks the over-65 romance angle to its fullest, cleverly hinting at how adults in love, at any age, behave like teenagers. Hal and his family learn a valuable lesson from the episode, too: they were interfering in Louisa's life as much as she interfered in theirs when she was certainly at an age to live her own life and make up her mind on whom she wished to marry. 

"There is no fury like a discarded lover of 65"

It's rare to see a December-December romance with older actors in the lead roles, getting all of the juicy dialogue to banter around; and it is even rarer to see one with such capable actors such as Charles Coburn, Spring Byington, and Edmund Gwenn taking on these parts. It is these actors who make Louisa such a delightful little comedy. Coburn especially steals every scene that he is in, in a role a bit reminiscent of his Uncle Stanley character in George Washington, Slept Here ( 1942 ). Also in the cast was Connie Gilchrist ( once again as a smart-alecky maid ), and Martin Milner. 


  1. This used to pop up on TV when I was a kid and I found it delightful, although details are vague at this point. It is a sad thing how some movies disappear. Thanks for pulling Louisa back from the brink.

  2. Wow, what a wonderful cast! It sounds like a plum role for Spring Byington, who was often relegated to traditional maternal roles. And to be wooed by two of the best character actors ever in Edmund Gwenn and Charles Coburn!