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Li'l Abner

4.5 out of 5 stars 160 customer reviews

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(Apr 19, 2005)
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Li'l Abner

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

LI’L ABNER, the beloved cartoon strip from Al Capp, takes place in the hillbilly town of Dogpatch, which is deemed the most useless community in America. When the city is chosen as a test site for A-bombs, its colorful citizens take up the good fight, with lots of fun and merriment.


This is one movie musical that doesn't bother adapting its stage presentation for the big screen: Li'l Abner cheerfully uses brightly colored, patently fake backdrops and stage sets for its mythical setting. And why not? A movie musical based on a cartoon strip is about as far from reality as you can get. Al Capp's legendary comic about the hillbilly denizens of Dogpatch was brought to Broadway by the estimable comedy team Melvin Frank and Norman Panama, who also produced the movie. Along with sampling Capp's world (the pursuit of noncommittal Abner by Daisy Mae on Sadie Hawkins Day is a major plot device), the movie is a goofy record of 1950s attitudes and concerns--in fact, Dogpatch is threatened with destruction when the government wants to use it as an atomic test site. The actors' Broadway delivery has a deadening effect after a while, and some of the makeup is downright weird (think the Whos in the live-action Grinch). Gene de Paul's music is unmemorable, but Johnny Mercer's lyrics provide considerable fun, and the athletic dances are based on Michael Kidd's stage choreography. Plus, the movie honors Capp's eye for impossibly bodacious women by casting Julie Newmar as Stupefyin' Jones and Stella Stevens (her first movie role) as Appassionata Von Climax. --Robert Horton

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Peter Palmér, Leslie Parrish, Stubby Kaye, Peter Palmer, Howard St. John
  • Directors: Melvin Frank
  • Writers: Melvin Frank, Norman Panama, Al Capp
  • Producers: Norman Panama
  • Format: Color, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Paramount
  • DVD Release Date: April 19, 2005
  • Run Time: 114 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (160 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0007TKGXK
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #59,741 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Li'l Abner" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: VHS Tape
It may not be a classic, but "Li'l Abner" is a lively movie with a convoluted storyline that does credit to its creator, the late Al Capp. All the characters are here: Hairless Joe and Lonesome Polecat, brewers extraordinaire of Kickapoo Joy Juice; Moonbeam McSwine (Carmen Alvarez), who sings that "sleepin' out with pigs is my line;" Earthquake McGoon (Bern Hoffman), the "world's champeen dirty rassler," who is so besotted with the beautiful Daisy Mae (Parrish) that he conspires with Senator Jack S. Phogbound (Ted Thurston) to get Dogpatch evacuated and destroyed so its inhabitants will be forced to give up their cherished tradition of Sadie Hawkins Day, under which no man can marry a girl unless she first catches him in the annual race (Daisy, of course, has eyes only for Li'l Abner); Available Jones (William Lanteau), the avaricious storekeeper, and his cousin, the statuesque Stupefyin' (Julie Newmar), whose body can stop any red-blooded male dead in his tracks; General Bullmoose (Howard St. John), the world's richest man, who dreams of owning "all the money in the world," and his "executive secretary," the redheaded Appassionatta Von Climax (Stella Stevens), who plot to gain control of the formula for Yokumberry Tonic (even unto planning Abner's murder); Evil-Eye Fleagle (Al Nesor), the scurrying Brooklynite with an arsenal of "whammies," who hires out to further their plan; "mystical" and "pugilistical" Mammy Yokum (Billie Hayes), who originated the tonic, and her henpecked husband Pappy (Joe E. Marks); Marryin' Sam (Kaye), who returns "home" to Dogpatch every year to unite the Sadie Hawkins victors and their captives in holy matrimony; and, of course, the devoted Daisy and her reluctant swain, naïve and patriotic Abner (Palmer).Read more ›
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Format: VHS Tape
I'm sorry but I really love this movie. Not only a thoroughly enjoyable old-fashioned musical comedy, but also one of the most successful transitions of a Broadway show from stage to screen. Probably because they didn't try to "open it out" too much but kept to its theatrical origins and style by filming entirely on sound stages against cartoon-ish backdrops and sets. The show is, after all, based on a famous comic strip and the film is able to recreate that look much better than any stage production could. The result is a high-energy, fast-paced, knee-slappingly funny, rip-roaring musical amusement.

The ever reliable team of Melvin Frank and Norman Panama not only managed to bring Li'l Abner to the screen virtually intact, they also brought along some of the key members of the original cast, most notably Stubby Kaye (never better) as Marryin' Sam and the amazing Peter Palmer as Li'l Abner. The screen is also filled with attractive and scantily-clad (in the best possible taste) females including winsome Leslie Parrish as Daisy Mae, stunning Julie Newmar as Stupefyin' Jones, and delectable Stella Stevens as the wonderfully named Appassionata Von Climax. All the familiar Dogpatch characters are there, back by the most energetic chorus line ever seen.

If the film occasionally brings to mind that other classic backwoods musical Seven Brides For Seven Brothers, that's because the songs are by Johnny Mercer and Gene De Paul and the show's original choreography was by Michael Kidd - all of whom contributed so effectively to that earlier film.

Li'l Abner is nothing if not fun with a decidedly bawdy and occasional cynical sense of humor that ranges from terrible puns and double entendres to slightly risque observations on male/female relationships to political satire.
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Format: VHS Tape
We live in a world where dangerous nuclear testing, corrupt politicians, ruthless big business, and uncomfortable gender role reversals are the norm. Why didn't we listen to Norman Panama and Melvin Frank back in 1957 when the movie of Li'l Abner was made? The jokes may be corny (with double entendres that must have gone straight over the head of the Hayes Office)...but the satire is biting and still relevant today. It was consciously campy before they even invented camp.
The producers pulled off a miraculous feat of casting to get actors and singers who resemble the preposterously proportioned cartoon characters of Al Capp. Watch for an uncredited cameo from Jerry Lewis, a stupefyingly gorgeous Julie Newmar as Stupefyin' Jones, and a beautifully underplayed Stella Stevens as Appassionata von Climax (see what I mean about the double entendres...she gets the best lines in the film!)
Often, when a stage musical is translated to film, the producers place it in a naturalistic setting...like "South Pacific", for example. In many ways, I think that demeans it; the movie setting is less of a fantasy world than it was in stage. No such attempt with Li'l Abner. The crazy cartoon world fits perfectly into a studio set that looks like it was drawn rather than constructed.
Oh, by the way. I want General Bullmoose's limousine. It must be worth a fortune, now...
Comment 35 of 35 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: DVD
While it is great for us Ll'L ABNER fans to finally have the delightful musical on DVD, Paramount has done a poor job on this one. I suppose they don't consider the film "important enough" for better treatment. The widescreen print is not genuinely widescreen; comparing it to the VHS full-screen format, there is only slightly more picture on the sides, while the top and bottom of the frame are somewhat cut off. While the colors are a huge improvement over the pale VHS, there is an odd, unnatural hue to skin-tones and over-saturation in the more vivid scenic elements. Yes, the intense colors were part of the comic-strip concept in the art direction, but the reproduction on the DVD is rather uneven. The lack of ANY special features is the worst offense. Many of the original cast members are still alive and could have contributed either audio commentary or interviews; in fact, Peter Palmer - Abner himself - is alive and well in Florida and recently did a newspaper interview about the making of the film. There were two filmed musical numbers which were cut from the movie - about 2/3 of "If Had My Druthers" was excised (a still from the cut section is used as one of the menu backgrounds), and "Unecessary Town" was filmed but cut entirely. It would have been nice to have had the outtakes.The recent releases on WB of "Brigadoon," "Bells Are Ringing," "Easter Parade" and "The Band Wagon" feature a large number of outtakes, cut musical numbers. If only Paramount had shown a fraction of the care which WB has given to their musical releases, this LI'L ABNER would have been a much more satisfying disc.
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