Saturday, June 20, 2015


Yet another movie is coming up on FXM Retro that will be getting an early afternoon showing one day, followed by an earlier showing the next day. This time, however, I'm blogging about it before the afternoon showing. Bobbikins is coming up twice in the next couple of days: tomorrow (June 21) at 1:30 PM, and again on Monday (June 22) at 11:50 AM.

British comic actor Max Bygraves plays Ben Barnaby, who at the beginning of the movie is returning from a conscripted stint in the Royal Navy. He's got an American wife Betty (Shirley Jones) and a son he hasn't seen, since he conceived the child before going off to the Navy. Indeed, he doesn't know his wife all that well. But Ben intends for all that to change now that he's back on dry land and out of the Navy. In his pre-Navy life, Ben had worked as a nightclub performer, and he's got a standing offer from a club owner to come back and be the star attraction. This will enable Betty to give up her job as a fashion model and look after the kid. But a strange thing happens. When Ben goes to the club to get his job, he meets the man whose job Ben is going to take. There's an awkward moment. The other guy has much greater hardship than Ben, and since Betty is still working, she can just work a little longer until Ben gets that job. So Ben makes the magnanimous decision not to take the job on offer.

The only thing is, Betty already quit her job, in no uncertain terms, while Ben was at the club where he was as far as Betty knew getting his old job back. What's a young family to do? It doesn't help that things are about to get a whole lot more complicated for Ben. His infant son, who has been nicknamed Bobbikins, starts talking to him! And by talking to him, I don't mean baby talk like mama and dada, but real, fully formed sentences using adult (in the sense of needing an education, not dirty) words. And to make matters worse, Bobbikins declares to Ben that he's only going to talk to daddy, because you know how women gossip. Unsurprisingly, nobody believes Ben when he claims that Bobbikins is talking to him, and everybody treates Ben as though he's having a nervous breakdown or something.

Out of a job and supposedly going nuts, Ben is given the advice to get some fresh air. And take the kid for a walk, since Ben has the time to look after the kid. So Ben goes to a park, which is where Sir Jason (Charles Carson) bumps into him. Sir Jason is the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and a mild nonconformist, in that he doesn't have a family of his own, loves children, and likes to take his lunch in the park. So when Sir Jason meets Ben, Sir Jason immediately takes a liking to Bobbikins. And then one of Sir Jason's advisors comes up to him and Ben, and tells the Chancellor that he's going to have to cut the conversation with Ben short because the advisor has some important top secret news for the Chancellor. Ben goes off for a few minutes so the Chancellor can have his conversation in private, but the Chancellor continues to look after Bobbikins since he likes children so much.

Of course, the Chancellor has no idea that Bobbikins talks to Daddy; after all, the idea that an infant this age can talk is preposterous. But Bobbikins hears of a news development that's going to mean an obscure business is going to become big overnight, so he tells Daddy this and tells him to get thee to a stockbroker! Daddy does it, the stock takes off, and the Barnabys become rich. Nobody knows where he's getting his stock tips from, although the authorities quickly figure there has to be a leak somewhere....

Bobbikins is a movie that has a good idea. I couldn't help but think of Francis, in which Donald O'Connor winds up paired with a talking mule, with nobody believing him that the mule can talk. Unfortunately, the execution in Bobbikins is way off. A lot of that, I think, comes down to Bygraves himself, who acts incredibly annoying, mugging for the camera form the scenes where he's supposed to be having a nervous breakdown through the rest of the movie. Shirley Jones tries, but she's got a relatively thankless task and frankly, not much to do. As for the story, it doesn't help that the movie tries to tack on a message that you shouldn't try to get ideas above your station. All in all, Bobbikins really falls flat. But then, even when I don't care for a movie I still think you should judge for yourself. You'll have to catch the FXM Retro showings to see this, since it doesn't seem to be available on DVD.

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