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Ma and Pa Kettle on Vacation

Ma and Pa Kettle on Vacation(1953)


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At their luxurious home in Cape Flannery, Washington, Franklin "Pa" Kettle surprises Ma by fixing her breakfast, but then lives up to his reputation for laziness by eating it all. While he eats, Ma opens a letter from Jonathan and Elizabeth Parker, the parents of their daughter-in-law, inviting them to join the Parkers on a trip to Paris. After Pa's Indian pals Geoduck and Crowbar secure a woman from their tribe to babysit the Kettles' fourteen youngest children, Ma and Pa board the plane to France. When Pa wants to smoke, Ma sends him to the back of the plane, where he sits next to Adolph Wade. Claiming to be shell-shocked from the war, Wade gives Pa an envelope full of papers and asks him to deliver it to him at their hotel the next evening. When the Kettles reach the hotel, naïve Pa falls for the schemes of a "French postcards" salesman and a pretty perfume clerk, who promises him that all the women in Paris will fall for him. When several schoolgirls then run in screaming for "Frankie," Pa races to the elevator, unaware that they are cheering for hotel guest Frank Sinatra. That night, Pa drinks too much champagne before remembering to bring the envelope to Wade. He knocks on Wade's door, not knowing that inside, spies Cyrus and Inez Kraft have killed Wade and are searching his pockets for the papers. Before opening the door, they hide the body behind the couch, then knock out Pa as soon as he enters. Just then, Ma and Jonathan appear at the now closed door and yell to Pa that he has forgotten the envelope. The Krafts escape, and Ma believes that Pa has passed out drunk until Jonathan sees the bump on his head. The Krafts enter again, pretending to be friends of Wade's, and offer to deliver the envelope to him, but a suspicious Ma demurs. Pa accepts the Krafts's offer to take them to dinner, however, and there Kraft dances with Ma, exhausting her by shaking her vigorously in the hopes of dislodging the envelope stashed in her dress. The next morning, the paper reports that Wade has been found murdered, and Jonathan brings the Kettles to the American consulate. Navy Admiral Fordyce identifies the papers as stolen defense files and requests that Pa carry a fake envelope in order to catch the spies red-handed. He assigns two secret agents, Farrell and Harriman, to follow Pa, who sets off to a café with Jonathan. The men see two Frenchmen staring at them and assume these are the agents, while at the same time mistaking the real agents for the spies. Kraft also sends a henchman to find Pa and, upon learning he is at the café, visits and asks for the letter. Pa hands it to him, but Kraft suddenly recognizes the agents and quickly takes his leave. Over the next few days, Pa is followed by the agents, the Frenchmen and the Krafts. One morning, Inez volunteers to bring Ma and Elizabeth to a perfume shop. In a back room, Kraft appears and informs them that they will be held hostage until Pa arrives with the envelope. With Kraft listening, Ma calls Pa and instructs him to break plans with Jonathan and come to the shop. Pa puzzles over this until Jonathan realizes that, since they had no such plans, Ma must be signaling that something is wrong. With the Frenchmen hot on their heels, Jonathan races to the shop as Pa runs to the local police station to round up help. When the police cannot understand his story, he is forced to antagonize them so that they chase him all the way to the shop. There, Pa races in and attacks the spy at the counter just as Ma, behind a glass wall, knocks out Kraft and Inez with a statue. She then crashes through the wall in time for the police to rush in and arrest the spies. Upon learning that the men they thought were spies are actually government agents, Pa and Jonathan turn to the Frenchmen for identification. After they reveal that they make French salad dressing and want Ma to manufacture their product in America, the police throw them out. Ma and Pa return to Washington, where Geoduck and Crowbar eagerly open their postcards and are dismayed to find them legitimate. Ma tries to set a fancy Parisian dinner table, but when the fourteen kids race in to eat noisily, she realizes there is no place like home.