So far as W.C. Fields fans are concerned, Ann Hegan Rice's sentimental 1901 novel Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch was definitively filmed in 1934. After seven reels' worth of a lachrymose plot about the impoverished Mrs. Wiggs (Pauline Lord) holding her large family together while her husband was off on a "mysterious mission," Fields strolled in as the mail-order husband to neighbor lady ZaSu Pitts, and promptly stole the show. The 1942 remake of Mrs. Wiggs substituted the amusing but hardly immortal Hugh Herbert for W.C. Fields, allowing star Fay Bainter to retain the spotlight. The story is substantially the same as before, including the mortgage on the home, the death of the frailest Wiggs child, and the eleventh-hour appearance of Mr. Wiggs, who solves all financial and emotional problems before lying down to take a nap. The 1942 Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch was actually the third film version of the Rice novel; the first had been released in 1919, with Mary Carr in the title role.
by Hal Erickson synopsis