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Case Number 25895: Small Claims Court

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Bobbikins (1959)

Fox // 1959 // 89 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge P.S. Colbert // June 29th, 2013

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All Rise...

Judge P.S. Colbert would rather be obese than reduced to pan-and-scan.

The Charge

He's the kid in the three-cornered pants who's cornered the market.

The Case

Song and dance man Benjamin Barnaby (Max Bygraves) is returning home to London, after finishing an eighteen month hitch in the Royal Navy. Waiting on the dock for his ship to come in is Ben's beautiful American wife, Betty (Shirley Jones, The Partridge Family), and their fourteen month old son Robert—nicknamed Bobbikins.

First things first—Ben insists that Betty quit her job as a clothes model; from now on, he'll be the only bread-winner in the family. When Betty reasonably suggests that she should keep working at least until he finds a job, Ben brags that he's already lined up the lead in a new revue at the Garden of Eden supper club. In fact, he assures her that he'll be starting rehearsals the very next day, just as Betty should be turning in her notice, effective immediately.

Whoops! Turns out Ben won't be getting the gig after all, and he drops this bombshell on Betty soon as she returns from telling off her boss good and properly, which pretty much ensures she'll have no chance of ever getting that job back. Now what? They're skint!

But Bobbikins (Baby Steven Stocker) has a secret: he can talk—only to his father, mind you, because that's the way these stories work. What's more, he manages to capture the fancy of one Sir Jason Crandall (Charles Carson, Curse Of The Fly), who only happens to be Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer. Turns out this self-described "old bachelor" takes such an interest in the title character that he insists on having him on his lap during secret cabinet meetings, where he's informed of events that have the potential to make certain stocks soar in value once this news gets out.

Please Note: Nobody bats an eyelash at the idea that an elderly single man develops an instantaneous raging fondness for another man's infant. So why should we, right? But, I digress…

Being an especially precocious tyke, Bobbikins realizes that passing these tips on to his dear old Dad has the potential to make him rich, thus eliminating the family's money problems. Of course, such sudden "luck" on the part of a man who's never as much as invested in the market before, raises quite a lot of suspicions, and soon Ben finds himself being investigated by Scotland Yard, the F.B.I., and France's minister of finance, among others. There's also trouble with the wife, who's frustrated because she doesn't "know" this new, money-crazed Ben, and furthermore, she doesn't like him one bit.

Unremittingly senseless, and entirely dependent on a gimmick last employed in cinema by a talking mule, Bobbikins was undoubtedly designed as a vehicle for Bygraves, who, despite being virtually unknown in America, remained one of England's most beloved stars for over half a century. Needless to say, this drab, black and white programmer certainly doesn't show off the "all-around entertainer" (who repeatedly affects a grating, high-pitched, manic cackle here) to his best advantage.

Originally shot in Cinemascope and presented in 2.35:1, this Manufactured-On-Demand release (through Fox's Cinema Archives collection) has been cruelly reduced to a full frame, and subjected to the dreaded pan-and-scan process. Are you kidding me?! Adding insult to injury, the image tends to blur on several occasions. The 2.0 mono mix fares better, but subtitles might have helped Americans with some of the lines delivered in dialect, if only they were available. There are no bonus features.

Why sugar coat things? Bobbikins just barely works as kitsch, and the lowest-grade kitsch at that. Break open in case of extreme emergency only.

The Verdict


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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 65

Perp Profile

Studio: Fox
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
• None
Running Time: 89 Minutes
Release Year: 1959
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Classic
• Comedy

Distinguishing Marks

• None


• IMDb

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