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Beulah - Beulah Goes Gardening

episode 3.4

USA 1952
produced by
Tom McKnight for Ronald Reed Productions/ABC
directed by Richard L. Bare
starring Hattie McDaniel, Ernest Whitman, David Bruce, Ruby Dandridge, Jane Frazee, Stuffy Singer, Rodney Bell, Robert Cherry, Sam Flint
written by Nathaniel Curtis

TV series

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Because times have gotten a little tough of late, Harry Henderson (David Bruce) decides to fire the gardener and have himself and his wife (Jane Frazee) and son (Stuffy Singer) do the yardwork themselves on Saturdays. But as soon as it's Saturday, everyone in the family finds a perfect (and costly) excuse not to do his or her share, and they all burden their black maid Beulah (Hattie McDaniel) with the job - and Beulah hasn't got an ounce of talent for gardening, nor is she fond of the extraload of (unpaid) work. But she is a benign woman so she does what she can ... and almost kills Harry's prizewinning rosebush in the process. Panicking, she takes the rosebush to the local flowershop to have it examined - but then the shopowner accidently sells it. He promises to get the rosebush back until tomorrow, and in the meantime, he lends her another, bigger rosebush, to be returned the next day. Harry fails to notice his prize-winning rosebush has been replaced and compliments Beulah on her gardening skills, much to her dismay. The enxt day, back at the flowershop, all the shopowner can offer her is a yet bigger rosebush, since the new owner of Harry's rosebush refuses to give it back - and now Harry really does get ecstatic over Beulah's green thumb, so much so that she has to bribe the new owner of the bush with a turkey dinner to return it. But while that man gets a turkey dinner, Beulah lets her employers suffer by giving them coldcuts for Saturday dinner - until Harry agrees to rehire the gardener again.


Hattie McDaniel's comedy is spot on, and as much was to be expected, but the rest of this episode is just standard 1950's sitcom fare, even if it has a black woman in the lead. What's more important than the pure story of the piece thoughis its underlying politics. Sure, on the surface, this is a story about a white family and their funny black housekeeper, as blacks were pretty much reduced to subservient roles (if they were shown at all) in that era. But on closer inspection, Beulah's white family doesn't strike one as particularly smart or particularly likeable, in fact they are snotty suburbaniteswho shy away from menial labour but aren't too intelligent either. Beulah on the other hand is the only active element in the family, and while she might not be a philosopher in the classic meaning of the word, she is able to use common sense to solve her problems - which is actually an interesting approach considering the series was produced in the early 1950's, when racism was much more overt in the USA than nowadays.


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD