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Five Little Peppers at Home (1940)

Approved | | Drama | 8 February 1940 (USA)
Ever since the poor Pepper family - widowed Mrs. Pepper and her five children Polly, Ben, Joey, Davie and Phronsie - warmed the once cold heart of wealthy businessman J.H. King, they have ... See full summary »


Charles Barton


Harry Sauber (screenplay), Margaret Sidney (based on a book by)


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Complete credited cast:
Edith Fellows ... Polly Pepper
Dorothy Anne Seese Dorothy Anne Seese ... Phronsie Pepper (as Dorothy Ann Seese)
Clarence Kolb ... Mr. King
Dorothy Peterson ... Mrs. Pepper
Ronald Sinclair ... Jasper
Charles Peck Charles Peck ... Ben Pepper
Tommy Bond ... Joey Pepper
Bobby Larson ... Davie Pepper
Rex Evans Rex Evans ... Martin
Herbert Rawlinson ... Mr. Decker
Laura Treadwell Laura Treadwell ... Aunt Martha


Ever since the poor Pepper family - widowed Mrs. Pepper and her five children Polly, Ben, Joey, Davie and Phronsie - warmed the once cold heart of wealthy businessman J.H. King, they have lived with him and his grandson Jasper in his mansion. The close proximity has allowed the seed of unspoken puppy love at least to germinate between Polly and Jasper. J.H. initially befriended the family solely to get the other 50% ownership of a copper mine that belonged to Mr. Pepper but which was deeded to Polly, with no copper ever having been found in it. Now, J.H. and Polly are 50/50 partners in developing the mine which both believe contains copper. However, no copper has yet been found, J.H. has sunk all his money into the venture, and the bank will call in his loan in exactly ninety days. Concurrently, J.H. suffers a stroke, which leaves him unable to handle the day to day business. The only answer seems to sell the mine to their competitor, Thomas Townsend, who has wanted it all along. ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


That family's here again...straight out of the famous stories beloved by millions! (Title lobby card).




Approved | See all certifications »






Release Date:

8 February 1940 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Cinco huerfanitos y compañía See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Columbia Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Spencer Charters (Mr. Shomer) and Marin Sais (Neighbor Woman) are in studio records/casting call lists as cast members for their roles, but they did not appear or were not identifiable in the movie. See more »


When Phronsie first puts her doll in the bathtub to wash it she says because it's dirty, there are no visible dirt marks on the front of the doll. Later when she is still washing the doll, the visible dirt marks on the doll appear. See more »

Crazy Credits

In the movie's opening credits the five actors portraying the Pepper children introduce themselves, standing behind large pepper shakers. See more »


Follows Five Little Peppers and How They Grew (1939) See more »


Be Firm and Be Faithful
Anonymous Hymn
Sung a cappella by Rex Evans, Edith Fellows and Tommy Bond
See more »

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User Reviews

The Peppers and the Kings
29 October 2011 | by lugonianSee all my reviews

FIVE LITTLE PEPPERS AT HOME (Columbia, 1940), directed by Charles Barton, a continuing story from Margaret Sidney's own storybook characters, sets the pattern for future installments with the presentation of the five Pepper children popping up from behind giant pepper shakers introducing themselves individually by character name before the introduction cast and credits fill the screen. Before getting through the basic plot elements, a forward message gives the movie viewing audience an idea to what's being presented: "For those who may not have seen Margaret Sidney's immortal Pepper family, may we sketch on bringing their earlier motion picture adventures. We first met Mrs. Pepper and her five little Peppers in a very modest home of Gusty Corners. Through a 50% ownership in a copper mine left to Polly Pepper by her father, the Peppers meet the mining financier J.H. King and his grandson, Jasper. In preference to servicing her shares, Polly and Mr. King become partners in the mine, and Mrs. Pepper and the five little Peppers went to live in the home of Mr. King where we now find them." For this second installment, the name of Dorothy Ann Seese as little Phronsie Pepper, is promoted from eighth to second in the cast listing. While Charles Peck and Tommy Bond resume their original roles as Ben and Joey, Bobby Larson takes over as Davie, as originated by Jimmy Leake. And now, on with the story.

In the initial entry, the death of John Pepper was mentioned as killed in a mine cave-in while having it surveyed. Resuming where the previous film left off, J.H. King (Clarence Kolb), a business tycoon, who's become fond of the Pepper family, especially little Phronsie, invests everything he owns into the mining shares in order to keep the Peppers from going bankrupt. By doing this, he becomes bankrupt himself, losing everything, including his home. The news becomes so shocking that King becomes desperately ill. Polly (Edith Fellows), learning he'll be unable to resume living on his estate, suggests they all move back to their home in Gusty Corners, with Mr. King and his orphan grandson, Jasper (Ronald Sinclair) as their house-guests. Martin (Rex Evans), King's loyal butler of ten years, not wanting to lose his position with Mr. King, moves in with the Peppers as well. As Mrs. Pepper (Dorothy Peterson) resumes her employ working at the factory, with Ben (Charles Peck) earning extra money delivering newspaper. Later on, Jasper's snobbish Aunt Martha (Laura Treadwell) stirs up trouble by wanting to prevent her nephew from living under poor conditions and having him move in with her; while Polly (Edith Fellows), wanting to save King from facing foreclosure, returns to her late father's mine to prove that it's still worth of rich copper deposits. Accompanied by Martin and her younger siblings, all goes well until they end up trapped inside following an unexpected cave-in.

Eight minutes longer than the previous 58 minute installment, but still tightly edited, THE FIVE LITTLE PEPPERS AT HOME offers more material to offer by ways of both humor and sentiment. Consisting of elements using three basic themes: situation (Mr. King); complications (Jasper and Aunt Martha) and suspense (The Pepper kids trapped in a mine), the scripting by Harry Sauber still brings forth slow moving material that only picks up in certain areas. Along with slang term, "Gee, willikers" recited by Joey, and the constant catch phrase of "My goo'ness" by Phronsie, its leading star, Edith Fellows, continues to become the basic factor playing both second mother and level-headed member of the family. Childhood antics are thrown in for good measure, including the constant bickering between brothers Joey and Davie as they play game of horseshoes, something anyone can relate; and of course, Phronsie, in her cutesy manner, stirring up more trouble than the family can handle by flooding up the King mansion by overflowing the bath-tub and running the shower while trying to wash her little dollie. "My goo'ness!" Aside from the minor supporting performances by Herbert Rawlinson (Mr. Decker); Bruce Bennett (Tom, the Chauffeur); and Ann Doran (The Nurse), it's Rex Evans, the slightly overweight butler, who stands out as the gentleman's gentleman. His character and how he's enacted is reminiscent to Sebastian Cabot's portrayal of Mr. French, the family butler, from the TV series, FAMILY AFFAIR (CBS, 1966-1970) starring Brian Keith. Minus the beard of Mr. French, Evans' butler brings forth his character as one initially not liking children, only to have them win him over after-wards (like Mr. French). As in the previous installment, fitting three in one bed can be a challenge. This time it's Evans, not Mr. King, who finds himself sleeping between the two tossing and turning Pepper boys. Scenes like this shows how large families, as depicted here, can manage to live all under one roof in a small home with one bathroom, and accept this as part of their daily routine.

In spite of whatever pros and cons THE FIVE LITTLE PEPPERS AT HOME may have, it's quite adequate, in fact, a forerunner to family programming found in many prime time TV shows during the innocent by-gone era of the 1950s and 60s where family that stays together, sticks together message. While "The Five Little Peppers" has never become the basis of a television series, this and the other theatrical installments have turned up on cable TV's Turner Classic Movies beginning in 2007. More of the same can be found in the its next installment: OUT WEST WITH THE PEPPERS (1940). (**)

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