The Beverly Hillbillies

1962 | United States

Classic US sitcom following the adventures of Jed Clampett and his family who, after discovering oil at the back of their Ozark ranch, pack up their things and move to Beverly Hills, much to the consternation of the local populace. The Clampett clan consisted of Jed (played by former 1930's song and dance man Buddy Ebsen), Granny Clampett (brilliantly portrayed by the wonderful Eileen Ryan), dim witted cousin Jethro (Max Baer Jnr, son of the former World Heavyweight Boxing Champion), and kindly, animal loving Elly May (Donna Douglas). Bea Benedaret appeared in the early episodes as first cousin Pearl Bodine but was quickly spun off into her own series Petticoat Junction. Beverly Hills' contingent of 'regular folk' were mostly represented by bank manager Milburn Drysdale, his wife Margaret and secretary Jane Hathaway. 

Rather than poking fun at the Hillbillies, the series underlying theme was nothing less than an out and out attack on materialism and became the fastest ratings hit in US TV history, progressing to the top of the chart within four months and remaining there for two years. It was also the first US sit-com to film episodes on location abroad, when the Clampetts came to stay in the standard mythical Hollywood version of England for a slightly different spin on their usual satirical shenanigans. 

In 1994 during Hollywood's preoccupation with attempting to convert 1960's television series' into big screen hits, a movie was released. Without the benefit of the original cast or the keenly observed scripts of creator Paul Henning the movie was a big disappointment. Even viewed today with the more sophisticated (jaded) eyes of a modern viewer, The Beverly Hillbillies delights as an excellent example of the US sitcom at its very best. The Clampetts may not have had poise and polish. But they had something infinitely more valuable...genuine class. 

Published on November 29th, 2018. Written by Laurence Marcus for Television Heaven.

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