I was reading a review for On Our Merry Way and the reviewer said that the film is like when you read a book that you cannot get into but you have to see the whole way through to see how it ends even though the ending is predictable. I completely agree with argument on that review. The only reason I even bothered to watch this film was because Paulette Goddard was the first billed. I adore Paulette Goddard and I have already watched her in anything and two of three of those anythings have not been good. On Our Merry Way included. She was not even in the film that long.
On Our Merry Way is about a newspaper writer named Oliver Pease ( Burgess Meredith). Well, he is not really a reporter he writes the pages for lost pets. He has never told his wife of seven months that he writes ads for lost pets. He has Martha (Goddard) believe that he is the roving reporter making fifty bucks a week. Martha gives Oliver the question for what she thinks is his next roving report- “Has a child ever influenced your life?”
Oliver goes into work and pretends to be someone from the head office and convinces his boss to let him write the roving section. Before Oliver walks out the door he is hunted down by a goon working for a bookie. Oliver had placed a few bets and lost a lot of money. So not only is he running around town looking for stories he is now running away from some goon trying not to get the crap beat out of him.
Trying to get away from the goon he runs into a bar. He sees two musicians Lank (Henry Fonda) and Slim (James Stewart) and asks them a question. They go into the story of how their car broke down when they were on the road. They came up with the idea to hold a band contest but the mayor’s kid that they ran into said his father would not have any because the kid would never win. Lank and Slim plan to have the kid win so they can keep the money from the show but the mechanic has another idea. His “baby” daughter Gloria is a beautiful young lady who can play all kinds of instruments. Lank and Slim were going to be the judges so the mayor’s son would win but the mechanic found Harry James and had him be the judge. So obviously the whole thing for Slim and Lank goes south and the “baby” Gloria winds up winning and going out on the road with the band.
The next person Olivier runs into is a priest at a church. Reverend John B. Dunne (Charles Laughton) regales the story how a number of years ago he realized he was not a very good priest. People were leaving his church and he could not get through to anyone. He decided he was going to resign and leave the parish. As he was waiting a little boy came up to him saying that John had to follow him someone needed him. John was reluctant at first but he followed the boy to a house. Before John could get the boy’s name he disappeared. John was brought upstairs to a man who seems to have asthma and thought he was going to die. The man was extremely angry with John for being a priest he did not believe in religion and is outrageously bitter. The man calls John weak and John agrees with him but the man says something else that makes John turn around and begin to read the story from Kings about David and Goliath. The man is able to calm down as he listens to the story and he feels better. When John goes to leave he sees a photograph of the little boy he saw outside. The man says the little boy was his son and that he died. After this John went back to his home and tore up the letter and ever since then he has become a better priest.
The last person Olivier comes across is a guy named Al (Fred MacMurray). Al and his friend Floyd were traveling down to Florida when they had gotten arrested and were brought over the county line by two sheriffs. When the sheriffs leave Al and Floyd think they are being held up by a gangster. They turn around and see it is a little kid called Sniffles who likes to think he is a gangster. He takes the two men to his mine where he has been living. Al asks if he has any family and he says only a rich uncle who does not like him very much. This gives Al the idea to try to find out who the uncle is so they can get money for bringing the kid back. For the few days Floyd and Al are with Sniffles he tortures them to no end with his crazy tricks. Al eventually goes into town and finds Sniffles’s uncle. The uncle has been driven to insanity by Sniffles and does not want the kid back. After some negotiation and lying Al gets Sniffles back to his uncle but the uncle wants to bring Floyd and Al up on extortion. Sniffles suggests they work their money off and Al has no problem with that once he sees the sister.
Oliver rushes back to the office but his boss has found him out. He tears up Oliver’s write up for the Roving Reporter and fires him. As soon as he steps out of the building the goon beats up. The police bring Oliver back to his apartment. Martha brings him inside and tells him she knew all along that he worked for the lost pets pages and she was trying to push him to make more money. She tells him the reason she pushed him and gave him the question was because she is going to have a baby. In the midst of their furniture being taken away the boss comes in after having read Oliver’s report and tells him he loved it and will take him back.
So there you go now you do not have to watch the film. Please spare yourself the one hundred and five minutes watch another film that is better.
Paulette Goddard only got top billing because she was married to Burgess Meredith at the time and he produced the film. She is only in it for the first ten minutes if that and the last ten minutes if that. Henry Fonda and James Stewart seemed a little out of their element doing comedy but I loved them they were so funny together. Dorothy Lamour played the “baby” in their story. I have never seen her in anything before she was not bad. Charles Laughton’s scenes depending on which version you see were originally cut because it was not comedic enough with the rest of the film. Fortunately I saw the version where his scene was kept in and I really liked him and the scene. It was the only watchable one. Fred MacMurray’s part was boring as sin. I think by the time his scene came on I had enough of the film.
On Our Merry Way was very boring but I had to finish it. I knew what the ending was right from the moment Paulette Goddard gives Burgess Meredith the question so no shock there. Unless you are huge fans of Paulette Goddard, James Stewart, Henry Fonda, Dorothy Lamour, Charles Laughton, Fred MacMurray or Burgess Meredith absolutely skip the film.