The Remarkable Mr. Pennypacker (1959)

Genres - Children's/Family, Comedy  |   Run Time - 87 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

It's a shame that The Remarkable Mr. Pennypacker is not a remarkable little film. In fact, it's rather a disappointing little film, given its premise: that a man in the 1890s has led two lives, simultaneously marrying one woman and raising a family in Harrisburg and marrying another woman and raising another family in Philadelphia. There's fodder for some interesting possibilities here, and surely the least one can expect of such a set-up is an exceptionally lively story, and hopefully one in which the title character is as exceptional as this story would suggest. But that's not the case with Pennypacker. Yes, technically Pennypacker is an unusual fellow, and we're shown that all of his ideas are rather advanced for the time period in which he lives. But we don't really and truly get into the characteristics that create a man who willfully deceives his wife (or wives) and then pretends he never mentioned it because he assumed they thought as he did and would therefore approve. Instead, we're treated to some typical shenanigans and hi-jinks involving citizens outraged at his immorality, paper dragons that the creators can defeat without even taking a deep breath. Clifton Webb does well as the title character, Dorothy McGuire is a lovely spouse and Charles Coburn takes advantage of what few opportunities the screenplay gives him. As a matter of fact, the whole cast is just fine. If only they had a script that was as interesting as its premise.