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Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid


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Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid + Miranda
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Product Details

  • Actors: William Powell, Ann Blyth, Irene Hervey, Andrea King, Clinton Sundberg
  • Directors: Irving Pichel
  • Format: NTSC, Black & White
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Republic Pictures Home Video
  • Run Time: 89 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (116 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00124UDN2
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #143,941 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

As told to a psychiatrist: Mr. Peabody, middle-aged Bostonian on vacation with his wife in the Caribbean, hears mysterious, wordless singing on an uninhabited rock in the bay. Fishing in the vicinity, he catches...a mermaid. He takes her home and, though she has no spoken language, falls in love with her. Of course, his wife won't believe that thing in the bathtub is anything but a large fish. Predictable complications follow in rather tame fashion. [Mastered from the original film negative]

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

86 of 86 people found the following review helpful By Michael J. Mazza HALL OF FAME on August 21, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
I had fond memories of seeing "Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid" on TV when I was a kid, and I think I enjoyed the film even more when I recently watched the home video version. A classic black-and-white film, it has a screenplay by Nunnally Johnson and is directed by Irving Pichel. The film stars William Powell as Arthur Peabody, a married man who is experiencing great anxiety over his impending 50th birthday. He and Mrs. Peabody (a wonderful performance by Irene Hervey) take a vacation to St. Hilda's, a Caribbean island under British rule. But the story quickly takes a turn into the fantastic when Mr. P discovers a beautiful mermaid (Ann Blyth).
Although the film is certainly appropriate for a family audience, it does have a deliciously "naughty" feel; it's full of drinking, extramarital flirting, and smoking (two memorable sight gags involve the last of those vices). But that probably just reflects the times when the film was made.
The production values and performances are first rate. Powell has a marvelously sympathetic "everyman" quality as Peabody, and Hervey brings a nice mixture of sweetness and fire to her role as the exasperated wife. Blyth nearly steals the film as the enchanting mermaid. She is mischievous and childlike, but with an alluring sexuality bubbling beneath the innocent surface. Her chemistry with Powell is delightful and touching.
The film is full of some great visual images; there is some particularly memorable underwater photography. "Mr Peabody" is one classic film that's still a lot of fun.
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50 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Linda Ravenell on March 4, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
However you measure it, this movie is a keeper. Having seen it afterschool as a little kid, it still works it's magic on me 40+ years later. "Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid" is a charming mix of reality versus fantasy. William Powell as the stiff-upper-crust-Bostonian who slides unwittingly into the fantasy of catching and keeping a real mermaid, played by the enchanting Ann Blyth is a masterpiece of casting. His mid-life crisis gently shoves him over the edge and what an edge it is. The sharp contrast between the bored tropical colonials and the sweet tenderness of Mr. Peabody and his mermaid divides the characters into two widely different groups -- the adults who are in a paradise but cannot see it; and the mermaid who pulls Peabody into a paradise which he embraces wholeheartedly. For a time he is a kid again. Eventually the adults gang up on Peabody and drag him back to the cold reality of being an adult. The question is was she real or was Peabody in need of serious therapy? Amazing what an effect a tropical paradise can have on a person. Please do snuggle up with your loved ones and enjoy this story again and again.
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37 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Anita on March 22, 2006
Format: VHS Tape
This a great old film that deserves to be on DVD. I'm sure there are many Boomers out there that remember this film and would vote for its release to DVD. Thanks, Anita
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Only-A-Child VINE VOICE on May 30, 2010
Format: VHS Tape
When you sift through old Hollywood material you are occasionally surprised to see expressionistic style films that were once passed off as realism to audiences that otherwise would have ignored the effort. "Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid" (1948) is a particularly noteworthy example. 1948 was the year of film mermaids as it also featured Glynis Johns in "Miranda", a comedy much closer to "Splash" (1984) in style and tone. "Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid" is a much darker film, with a mute mermaid (wonderfully played by a perfectly cast Ann Blyth), the manifestation of the protagonist's mid-life crisis fueled imagination.

The hope that William Powell's "Thin Man" popularity would translate into a box office bonanza led to his unfortunate casting as the title character. Powell's actual performance is fine as is Irving Pichel's acting for the camera direction, but Powell brings way too much baggage with him to effectively sell this complex character. And the problem is exacerbated by a screenplay deviating from the source novel to create a "Thin Man" tone for much of the film. Imagine 30 minutes of Nick, Nora, and Asta renting a vacation villa on a Caribbean beach; with the standard light comedy and mildly eccentric supporting cast. Suddenly Nick hears the song of a mermaid and trips out on his personal "Peter Pan" exploration of the mysteries of middle age male discontent. While both styles work fine on their own, their lack of unity makes the film far less powerful than it might otherwise have been (insert source novel here).

The 5' 2" Blyth was 19 when this was filmed while Powell was 56 and in poor health, which made him look a bit older and made their scenes together even more surreal. In the source novel: "Peabody baited and put out his line ...
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Elaine J. Campbell on February 26, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
than we see in some of his earlier films such as The Thin Man series, I Love You Again, Love Crazy and My Man Godfrey. He has put aside his witty, comedic genius to portray a gentle, sensitive and serious man confused and frightened by the advent of old age.
And we see a very young Ann Blythe, whose career blossomed, then was cut short when she retired upon marrying to raise a family. She has no dialogue (mermaids cannot talk, although they sing very well), yet she is a master of facial expressions, tender, naive emotions and even cries at the drop of a hat albeit underneath the sea. She is perfect for the part.
The film is about their relationship, with a secondary theme about Powell's wife (excellently protrayed by Irene Hervey), who is attracted to a local while on vacation and is experiencing temptations involved in long marriages (and perhaps her own trepidations about leaving middle age behind).
Mermaids have fascinated me since reading Hans Christian Andersen. And whimsy honestly portrayed is delightful. This is a gentle, tender and dear movie. There are some good laughs in it, and the outcome is more lifelike than ideal. Did she really exist, or was she a hallucination? We are given a lifetime to ponder this.
The psychiatrist making an appearance at the beginning and at the end of the film is played by Art Smith, and his acting is excellent. Besides Powell and Blythe, he really stands out.
But it is the different William Powell who as usual holds center stage; his acting which appears so easy is for all to admire.
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