6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Great fantasy comedy
F Gwynplaine MacIntyre from Minffordd, North Wales
16 June 2002
I screened "One Glorious Day" in a European film archive, from an
old nitrate print that was beginning to go bubbly, with most of the
original intertitles cut out and French titles spliced in. Despite the
problems, this is one of the most entertaining films I've ever seen: a
solid combination of action, comedy, romance and supernatural fantasy
that's also extremely original. The film's premise resembles H.G.
Wells's story "The Stolen Body", but "One Glorious Day" takes that
premise in quite a different direction.
Professor Botts (Will Rogers) is regarded as the town crackpot,
because he believes in spiritualism and the transmigration of souls.
Botts is in love with Molly, the local beauty (Lila Lee), but he's too
shy to tell her how he feels. Ben Wadley (Alan Hale Snr), a local lout,
is Botts's rival for Molly's affection. The small town is rife with
political corruption, due to Bert Snead (Clarence Burton) and his
cronies at the Owl Club.
Meanwhile, in an other-worldly dimension "where souls are waiting to
be born" (as a title card describes it), we see a procession of
weird-looking beings, queuing up single-file like paratroopers ready to
jump out of a plane. These are human souls, about to be assigned to
unborn human bodies. (The title cards clearly state that the human soul
inhabits its body BEFORE birth, a claim which might provoke some
controversy.) One of these unborn souls is "Ek", short for Ectoplasm.
"Ek", played by young actor John Fox, is a bizarre creature with
ping-pong eyeballs and a spike growing out of his head. (Ek is meant to
be a human soul, so why does he look so inhuman?) Ek has missed his
proper turn to be born. When told he must go to the end of the queue and
start over, Ek indignantly decides to go to Earth and seek a human body
Professor Botts has been experimenting with astral projection. We
see Will Rogers slumped in his chair, as a ghostly version of the
professor's soul (Rogers in double exposure) floats out of his body.
Suddenly, Ek arrives and steps into the professor's body. We see "Botts"
wake up, as Ek takes over his body and immediately starts wreaking
Trying out his new body, "Ek" proceeds to do all the things Botts
never had the gumption to do. Meanwhile, the professor's soul must tag
after him, as an invisible ghost, trying to get his body back. (Will
Rogers spends most of the film in double exposure as the disembodied
soul of Botts.) Wearing Botts's body, Ek beats up Wadley, wrecks the Owl
Club and exposes its corruption. The townspeople who witness these
events assume that the cowardly Professor Botts has suddenly turned
brave. Meanwhile the real Botts, as a bodiless invisible spirit, floats
over to Molly's house in a desperate attempt to contact her from the
ghostly plane. She can't see him or hear him, but Botts overhears Molly
telling her mother that she is secretly in love with him.
Finally, Ek decides that he isn't ready for a full-grown body, and
he agrees to be born in the normal way: starting out as a baby and
working his way up. Ek steps out of Bott's body and lets the professor
move in again. Back in his own body, Botts now discovers that he's a
hero, and the townspeople want him to run for mayor. And he proposes to
Will Rogers (an under-rated actor) gives two excellent performances:
one as Botts, and one as the professor's body inhabited by Ek's spirit.
John Fox is good too, although in one scene he clearly has difficulty
seeing through the weird bulging eyeballs his character
The film has excellent direction (by James Cruze) and a fine script
by Cruze's usual scenarist Walter Woods. In his book about Roscoe
"Fatty" Arbuckle, the British journalist David Yallop states that "One
Glorious Day" was in production (starring Arbuckle as Professor Botts)
at the time of the sex scandal that ruined Arbuckle's career, and all of
Arbuckle's scenes had to be re-shot with Rogers. This explains one
complicated camera set-up late in the film: an exterior long shot in
which the character of Ek in Bott's body is doubled by a stuntman who is
much too large to pass for Will Rogers, but who strongly resembles
"One Glorious Day" is one glorious film. The script makes a few
controversial claims about the human soul, which may explain why this
movie has lapsed into undeserving obscurity.
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