On Our Merry Way

On Our Merry Way is a 1948 American comedy film produced by Benedict Bogeaus and Burgess Meredith and released by United Artists. At the time of its release, King Vidor and Leslie Fenton were credited with its direction, although the DVD lists John Huston and George Stevens, who assisted with one of the segments, as well. The screenplay by Laurence Stallings and Lou Breslow, based on an original story by Arch Oboler, is similar in style to that of Tales of Manhattan (1942), another anthology film made up of several vignettes linked by a single theme. The picture stars Paulette Goddard, Burgess Meredith, James Stewart, Henry Fonda, Harry James, Dorothy Lamour, Victor Moore and Fred MacMurray. marks the first joint movie appearance of Stewart and Fonda, who play a pair of musicians in their section of the film.

On Our Merry WayOliver Pease (Burgess Meredith) has deceived his bride Martha (Paulette Goddard) into believing he’s an inquiring reporter for the Los Angeles Daily Banner when, in fact, he is employed there as a classified ads clerk. When Martha suggests Oliver ask people on the street, “What influence has a baby had on your life?,” he submits the question to the real reporter, who dismisses it outright. Oliver approaches the editor and introduces himself as a representative of the publisher, who he claims wants to improve the feature by having Oliver roam the city and ask the question suggested by his wife.

Jazz musicians Slim and Lank (James Stewart and Henry Fonda) mistake the word “baby” for “babe” and reminisce about a female trumpeter they met when their tour bus broke down in a rundown California seaside resort, where they tried to fix a talent contest so the mayor’s son would win.

Hollywood film star Gloria Manners (Dorothy Lamour) recalls the time she was hired to work with precocious child star Peggy Thorndyke (Eileen Janssen), who unintentionally triggered her big break in the movies, transforming her from a drab Iowa secretary into a Polynesian goddess.

In a story similar to the O. Henry short story The Ransom of Red Chief, successful stage magician Al (Fred MacMurray) relates how he and his buddy Floyd (William Demarest) once were con artists who stumbled upon young runaway and practical joker Edgar Hobbs in the woods. Upon learning he lived with his wealthy banker uncle, they conspired to return the boy and claim a reward, only to discover his uncle did not want him back. All ended well when Al married Edgar’s sister and made the two siblings part of his magic act.

At the end of the day, Oliver returns to the newspaper only to discover he’s been fired from his real job for being AWOL. When he tells his wife what has happened, she surprises him by telling him she has known all along about his job and does not mind in the least. The paper’s editor, impressed by the notes Oliver made while talking to his various subjects, arrives to tell him he likes his column and plans to print it, and asks how he thought of the question in the first place. Martha confesses it came to her because she’s going to have a baby.

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