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Luckily I saw this slice of candy corn at Cinefest, the annual silent & early film festival held each March in Syracuse, New York. I was one of 200 lucky viewers who got to see Ed Wynn at his peak of popularity. Seeing Ed's childish face and extreme mannerisms one can see why he became such a big hit on stage and with that silly voice a huge hit on radio. I've read he could work a room into hysterics, but was basically shy one on one. The plot is thin, but this is a star vehicle, so if you like the star -- it works hilariously. Decades later Red Skelton, Jerry Lewis and more recently Jim Carrey would imitate this style of comedy, with its child-like giddiness. Support film preservation & attend film festivals and write your reviews for the IMDB. The more these little gems get exposed the more like they will be released on video & DVD!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Ed Wynn was a popular comedian for many decades. He starred in FOLLOW THE LEADER and didn't have much of a film career. Ethel Merman, THE Broadway musical star of the century, made her film debut in FOLLOW THE LEADER and didn't have all that much of a film career, either. Ginger Rogers had one of her earliest film roles in FOLLOW THE LEADER and I'm tempted to say that if you looked good in something like FOLLOW THE LEADER you had it in you to become a film legend, but 'good' is stretching it even though Ginger probably came out the best of anyone involved in this turkey, mostly because she had so little to do. I'm afraid that I found FOLLOW THE LEADER completely unfunny and downright incoherent. It seemed that huge amounts of screen time were given over to a comedian named Lou Holtz, and these minutes were painful to behold. I wouldn't be surprised if FOLLOW THE LEADER was the worst film in the resumes of everyone involved.
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