Mother Carey’s Chickens (1938 film)

Mother Carey's Chickens - 1938 film poster

Adapted from the novel of the same name by Kate Douglas Wiggin, the film version of Mother Carey’s Chickens must have resonated as much or more when it came out in 1938, in the waning days of the depression.

Starring Anne Shirley in the lead role as Nancy, and Ruby Keeler as her sister Katherine, or Kitty. The film was based on the 1917 stage adaptation of the same novel. Fay Bainter portrayed Mrs. Margaret “Mother Carey.”


The film tells the story of the Carey family after the death of Captain John Carey, the girls’ father. They, their two brothers, and their mother are left to fend for themselves. The triumph of resourcefulness, hard work, and maternal love over struggle are at the heart of this simple tale.

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Mother Carey's Chickens

Mother Carey’s Chickens by Kate Douglas Wiggin (1911)

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Anne Shirley was the actress who took this name upon starring as the fictional heroine of the same name, Anne Shirley, in the 1934 film adaptation of Anne of Green Gables (based on the novel by L.M. Montgomery). Originally, Katherine Hepburn was slated for the starring role, but didn’t want it, and left the studio over the dispute.

Alas, it is difficult to find an online version of the film for which you need not register or download, but it is out there. Hopefully it will appear on YouTube one of these days. In the meantime, you’ll have to settle for reading the book!

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