Movie Details

Katharine Hepburn's association with RKO Radio Pictures came to an abrupt end when she refused to star in the studio's adaptation of Kate Douglas Wiggins' sentimental novel Mother Carey's Chickens. Hepburn was replaced by musical-comedy favorite Ruby Keeler, who though woefully miscast did her best to please. The story proper gets under way when Mr. Carey (Ralph Morgan) is killed in the Spanish American War, leaving his wife (Fay Bainter), his daughters Kitty (Keeler) and Nancy (Anne Shirley) and his young son Peter (Donnie Dunigan) to fend for themselves without a penny to their name. When Mrs. Carey is forced to put up the family's new house for sale, her daughters try to scare off potential buyers by claiming that the domicile is haunted. Thankfully, the Careys manage to find a source of income that will enable them to remain in their home, "ghosts" and all. Even more thankfully, the daughters find suitable mates in the form of Ralph (James Ellison) and Tom (Frank Albertson). With so much sugary sweetness, Walter Brennan's portrayal of the family's curmudgeonly benefactor comes as a decided relief. The film's sentimental theme music was later heard during the newsreel sequence of Citizen Kane, where it fit surprisingly well. Mother Carey's Chickens was remade by Disney as Summer Magic in 1963. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi