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Rubber Heels (1927)

 -  Comedy  -  11 June 1927 (USA)
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A European royal couple come to New York to sell some of the royal family's crown jewels. A gang of international jewel thieves is planning to steal the gems, so a private detective is ... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview:
...
Homer Thrush
Chester Conklin ...
Tennyson Hawks
...
Princess Aline
Robert Andrews ...
Tom Raymond
John Harrington ...
Grogan
Bradley Barker ...
Gentleman Joe
Armand Cortes ...
The Ray (as Armand Cortez)
Ruth Donnelly ...
Fanny Pratt
Mario Majeroni ...
Prince Zibatchefsky
Truly Shattuck ...
Mrs. P. Belmont-Fox
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Storyline

A European royal couple come to New York to sell some of the royal family's crown jewels. A gang of international jewel thieves is planning to steal the gems, so a private detective is assigned to guard them. Unfortunately the private eye turns out to be a bumbling, inept fool--or so everyone thinks. Written by frankfob2@yahoo.com

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Comedy

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Release Date:

11 June 1927 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Niagaara keerises  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Ed Wynn's film debut. See more »

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User Reviews

 
Ed Wynn wanted to destroy this movie.
16 April 2003 | by (Minffordd, North Wales) – See all my reviews

It's interesting how comedians can be extremely successful in one medium yet utterly flop in another. Morecambe and Wise were hugely successful on television, yet their movies are awful. Fred Allen was hilarious on radio, yet painfully unfunny on television (where his physical appearance may have been a handicap). Ed Wynn had two tremendously successful careers on stage and on the radio, yet his film and television work are nothing to get excited about. Wynn's style of comedy was easiest to take in small doses, which may be why he was a success in revues and in half-hour radio shows but never starred in a successful feature-length film. Come to that, he never starred in a successful short film, either. His best film work is in small supporting roles.

During his long career (starting in vaudeville, culminating as a headliner in the Ziegfeld Follies), Ed Wynn was very proud of the fact that every single line he ever spoke onstage he had written himself. He didn't write this movie. According to 'Variety' at the time, the production rushes for 'Rubber Heels' were so bad that Ed Wynn offered to pay Paramount the full amount they'd spent to make this movie, so that he could buy it back and destroy it. When Adolph Zukor refused Wynn's offer, Wynn spent the next few months publicly knocking this movie at every opportunity ... and then sailed off to Europe shortly before the film's premiere, so that he would be out of the country until the stench faded.

The eyeglasses which Wynn wears in this movie are not his distinctive hornrims, possibly because the similarly-bespectacled Harold Lloyd (a much bigger box-office name) was also under contract to Paramount at this time. Also, this is a silent film, so Wynn's distinctive vocal crotchets (which served him so well in radio and onstage) are absent.

Here's the so-called plot: the Prince and Princess of Backachia have come to New York City to sell their crown jewels. The Princess is played by Thelma Todd ... who looks quite sexy here -- with brunette hair for once, and a jewelled tiara -- but she isn't very impressive in a poorly-written role. The Prince is played by some untalented guy who's old enough to be Thelma Todd's father. Chester Conklin (very funny elsewhere, but not here) is the leader of a gang of thieves who plot to steal the sparklies. Ed Wynn is the inept detective who (for some reason) is assigned to guard the jewels. In this movie, Wynn plays one of those stupid bumblers who turns out not to be so stupid nor so incompetent after all. I've always found this sort of character much less plausible than the other sort of movie bumbler (played by, for example, George Formby or Norman Wisdom) who wins out at the end by sheer chance.

SPOILERS COMING. This movie is painfully unfunny and implausible. There's an alleged climax, when the thieves bring the steamer trunk containing the jewels to Niagara Falls, intending to smuggle them over the bridge into Canada. Wynn ends up locked in the trunk (of course), and the trunk accidentally goes over the falls (of course) ... except we're supposed to be impressed with a three-way surprise here, because (#1) the trunk didn't really go over the falls after all; (#2) the jewels weren't really in the trunk; and (#3) neither was Wynn. But we don't much care, partly because this movie is so wretched anyway ... but largely because the rear-projection process during the "Niagara Falls" sequences is so inept that we never for one moment believe that any of the characters are anywhere outside of Paramount's Astoria studio.

This movie was directed by Victor Heerman, who will not be totally forgotten any time soon ... because he directed the Marx Brothers in 'Animal Crackers'. That film's success is down to the talents of the Marxes and their writers, not the director. 'Rubber Heels' is much more typical of Heerman's abilities ... in other words, not much. Ruth Donnelly, later a splendid character actress at Warner Brothers, is very funny here in a brief role with the double-entendre name Fanny Pratt. I'm a fan of Ed Wynn's later work as a dramatic actor (again, successful only in supporting roles) so it saddens me to rate this movie only 2 points out of 10.


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