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So's Your Old Man (1926)

Poor glazier Sam Bisbee has invented break-proof glass. He intends to show it off to a convention of automobile men. Due to a mixup his car is switched with another and his demonstration ... See full summary »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
Princess Lescaboura
...
Kenneth Murchison
Kittens Reichert ...
Alice Bisbee
Marcia Harris ...
Mrs. Bisbee
Julia Ralph ...
Mrs. Murchison
Frank Montgomery ...
Jerry Sinclair ...
Al
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Storyline

Poor glazier Sam Bisbee has invented break-proof glass. He intends to show it off to a convention of automobile men. Due to a mixup his car is switched with another and his demonstration toss of a brick simply breaks the car's windshield. On the way home he thinks a woman is trying to commit suicide and so prevents her. The woman is really Princess Lescaboura, who arrives in Bisbee's home town looking for him. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

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glass | inventor | See All (2) »

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Comedy

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Release Date:

25 October 1926 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Cacos de Vidro  »

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1.33 : 1
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Connections

Featured in W.C. Fields: Straight Up (1986) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Sam Bisbee meets a Princess
25 June 2005 | by (Westchester County, NY) – See all my reviews

It's a difficult movie to find and public screenings are rare, but So's Your Old Man is a film every W.C. Fields fan will want to see, as it ranks with his most satisfying silent comedies. Admittedly Fields was never at his best in the silent cinema, deprived of his murmured asides and strange oaths, but his strongest films of the '20s (i.e. this one and It's the Old Army Game) are nonetheless quirky and amusing, and also of interest because they feature early versions of routines and gags he later perfected in his great comedies of the '30s. To our eyes this film looks like a dress rehearsal for You're Telling Me!, an underrated gem of 1934. The plots are almost identical: in both films Fields plays small town inventor & imbiber Sam Bisbee, whose daughter is romantically involved with the son of the town's wealthiest, haughtiest family. In both films, Bisbee is developing an automobile-related invention he believes will make his fortune: in You're Telling Me! puncture-proof tires are the expected ticket to prosperity, while here it's shatter-proof windshields. In both films he journeys by train to the big city to demonstrate his invention before potential investors, and both times the initial demonstrations fail due to mishaps although the inventions are genuine. After an interlude of suicidal despair Bisbee ultimately redeems himself, assisted by a sympathetic Princess he meets during his train journey.

The silent version is somewhat faster paced, but for W.C. Fields that's not entirely a good thing; he required a deliberate, methodical pace for the full impact of his routines, whereas this film whips along at a brisk tempo and never gives him time to work up the belly-laughs we associate with his best work. One of the highlights is the train sequence, when the failure of his invention provokes Sam Bisbee to attempt suicide, half-heartedly and -- luckily for him -- ineptly. Here the pace slows a bit, but even so, the biggest laugh is produced not by Fields but by an onlooker who delivers a sour wisecrack. How odd that one of the biggest laughs in a W.C. Fields movie is earned by someone other than the star! (Another big laugh is inspired by a question posed by Mrs. Bisbee later on; Fields was more generous to supporting players than his reputation might suggest.) Like the remake this film also features a version of our hero's famous golf routine, originally introduced on stage in the Ziegfeld Follies. Here it's his best scene by far. Fields was at his best constructing intricate sequences of gradually mounting frustration. Still, for maximum impact, the routine required sound. Much of the humor stems from the distractions and interruptions that ruin his concentration, some of which involve sudden, unwelcome noises-- which, in this rendition, we can't hear. A better representation of the golf act can be found in Fields' first talkie, The Golf Specialist, but the definitive version can be found in You're Teling Me!

Beyond comedy routines and sight-gags this film offers an atmospheric look at life in small town America, a town made up of social climbers, gossips, snobs, assorted loafers, and an inexplicably lovable lout named Sam Bisbee. All told, So's Your Old Man is an engaging, diverting effort that Fields' fans and silent comedy buffs are likely to enjoy. In the supporting cast, notably, is handsome young Buddy Rogers in one of his first film appearances, and William "Shorty" Blanche, who played straight-man to Fields on stage and appeared in a few of his silent comedies. The Princess Lescaboura is portrayed by Alice Joyce, a prominent star of earlier years who was coming to the end of her career by this time. The unflappable Miss Joyce lends a dignified presence to the proceedings, suggestive of a genuine princess condescending to visit a lowly vaudeville show, and enjoying herself more than she'd anticipated.


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