Ma and Pa Kettle (1949): Popular Comedy Starring Marjorie Main and Percy Kilbride

Ma (Marjorie Main) and Pa Kettle (Percy Kilbride) and their enormous brood made their on screen debut in the film version of Betty McDonald’s humorous book “The Egg and I” (1947), starring Claudette Colbert and Fred MacMurray, where they appeared as supporting characters

When audiences found them charming and funny, the studio decided that the characters deserve their own vehicle, and so they got their own long-running series of low-budget movies.

“Ma and Pa Kettle,” the first in that series, centers on the adventures of the impoverished hayseed family after Pa wins a contest by writing a jim-dandy slogan for a tobacco company.

The Kettle’s prize is a new, modern, fully automated home. The timing could not be better: Ma, Pa and their 15 kids were about to lose their home.

In its funniest moments, the comedy depicts how the Kettles try to figure out the operation of their fancy new tools and machinery.
The series was popular jut before TV became the dominant form of entertainment, where such a series naturally belongs.

Marjorie Main often played working class characters, housekeepers (in Minnelli’s musical” Meet Me in St. Louis”), or manager of a divorce ranch in Vegas (Cukor’s hilarious comedy, “The Women”).

Credits
Running time: 75 Minutes.
Comedy
Directed by Charles Lamont