On Our Merry Way (1948) - a Meredith film without enough Burgess in it

Anthology films are often irritating. One movie composed of a series of short films tied together with one theme can be aggravating. Although you get a sampling of many actors' talents, you also never get enough of your favorite stars.

One such film is On Our Merry Way (1948) starring Burgess Meredith as Oliver Pease, a reporter who goes about asking random people "how has a baby influenced your life?," or some such question. Then the movie takes a detour into the lives of various characters as they answer the question. Oliver ends up talking to James Stewart, Henry Fonda, Dorothy Lamour... Forget it! Here's the list of people.

But the most interesting story is that of Oliver and his wife Martha (Paulette Goddard).
Two Sleepy People

The movie is at its best before Oliver sets out on his quest, when the script is introducing us to the couple.The doorbell awakens a groggy Oliver in his crowded, little New York flat. He answers the door and has a short spat with the newspaper boy. ("Keep the change." "There ain't any." "Keep it anyway.") He climbs back into bed only to have the alarm clock go off. The scene is like one of those Robert Benchley reels about a guy who just can't catch a break.

"Don't tell me. It's a view of a tulip bed in Holland..."
Oliver and Martha begin their daily routine - he showers, she makes breakfast, all the while bantering and cracking jokes.  
Oliver: When is the common man going to catch up to your style of painting?
Martha: You just did.
Oliver: In spite of your insults, I love your wit, I love your paintings, but most of all, I love... your coffee.
They are such a charming couple, but we get only about 10 minutes with them.
Shaving at the breakfast table

Martha gives him a new idea for a man-on-the-street column and expects to see it in the newspaper. This is what starts the guy on his journey. We later discover that Oliver has lied about his occupation and his salary and that he has gambling debts. These are just the catalysts which propel him from one vignette to another. Will he eventually become a real reporter? Will the racetrack goon to whom he owes money catch him and beat him up? Will his wife find out? All that jazz. It's really an early sitcom.

Despite such luminaries as Fred MacMurray and William Demarest later on in the mix, after about 15 minutes into the film I became nostalgic for the Pease apartment and the fun the newlyweds seem to be having. Why couldn't the film exclusively follow Oliver and Martha?

Oh well. Perhaps since Meredith was busy producing the film, his marked absence from his own movie can be excused.... Nah.


  1. Java, this sounds like it COULD have been a good idea, but something got lost in translation. Better Burgess Meredith and Paulette Goddard should should have spent more time being witty and charming at each other in their NYC apartment; that's my idea of fun! I enjoyed your review, in any case!

  2. Thanks DorianTB. I'm not knocking the vignettes - each of which needs its own movie- but having only 10 or 15 minutes of Meredith and Goddard felt like a tease. :)


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"Java's Journey: A really fun, informative well-written blog that explores all of the things - and I mean all - I love about classic films."-- Flick Chick of A Person In The Dark Email: java-rush@hotmail.com


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