It's Tough to Be Famous (1932)

Unrated  |   |  Comedy, Drama  |  2 April 1932 (USA)
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When his submarine, S89, is sunk by an excursion boat, Scotty is the last one left aboard after helping the crew to be rescued. However, Navy divers are able to save Scotty and his heroics ... See full summary »



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Complete credited cast:
Janet Porter McClenahan
Harold Minjir ...
Sutter, the Ghost Writer (as Harold Minjer)
Emma Dunn ...
'Moms' McClenahan
Walter Catlett ...
Joseph Craig 'Joe' Chapin
David Landau ...
Chief Petty Officer Steve Stevens
Oscar Apfel ...
S.J. Boynton
Terrance Ray ...
Sanford, Naval Officer Helping Scotty
Lt. Blake (scenes deleted) (as J. Carroll Naish)
Louise Beavers ...
Ada, Janet's Maid


When his submarine, S89, is sunk by an excursion boat, Scotty is the last one left aboard after helping the crew to be rescued. However, Navy divers are able to save Scotty and his heroics make him a hero. Retiring from the Navy as a Commander, he finds that, as a hero, he is in great demand. There are parades. speeches, endorsements, banquets and autographs galore. Even his marriage to his sweetheart Janet is headline news. Everyone wants a piece of Scotty. The only thing that Scotty does not have is his freedom and a life of his own. Written by Tony Fontana <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


They spent their honeymoon on the FRONT PAGE! See more »


Comedy | Drama






Release Date:

2 April 1932 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Goldfish Bowl  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


In this early 1930s Pre-Code film, a "double entendre" is used when Scotty and Janet discuss the clock in their honeymoon suite. As Janet gets off the bed and exits to the bathroom, she turns around, begins to take off her robe, and seductively tells Scotty not to forget to wind the clock. A careful listener can hear a message with a totally different meaning. In case you missed it the first time, the gag line is repeated at other times throughout the film. See more »


Janet Porter McClenahan: The trouble with our marriage has been, too much love and not enough real friendship.
Scott 'Scotty' McClenahan: Ah, bunk!
See more »


aka "My Country 'tis of Thee"
Music based on "God Save the King"
Played at the parade for Scotty
See more »

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You Consent To Your Exploitation
21 January 2010 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

One of a flock of films that Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. made for Warner Brothers in the early Thirties, It's Tough To Be Famous takes a look at the cult of celebrity and those who profit off it. In his memoirs, Salad Days, Fairbanks was not especially crazy about this film, but he did some others that he felt were far worse.

Fairbanks himself acknowledged that the story came from the life of Charles Lindbergh and the cult of celebrity that came around him after his flight in 1927. Doug plays Scotty McLennan who is a naval commander and skipper of a submarine that went down in the Atlantic. As rescue vessels race to her, the only question is will the oxygen hold out long enough to reach the submerged vessel on the bottom.

As captain, Fairbanks orders his men to go up with oxygen masks out the torpedo tube and elects to stay behind and man the tubes. But fortunately before he suffocates, outside rescue arrives and he's saved and proclaimed a hero who, but for that timely intervention would have sacrificed his life for his crew.

The rest of the film is what happens afterward, the marriage he was going to have with Mary Brian becomes a public one, his life becomes run by people he's hired to exploit his name.

Oddly enough nine years later Warner Brothers would make a film about a real hero who turned his back on such lures of easy money to trade in on his good name. Gary Cooper as Sergeant York got an Oscar for playing the self effacing York as only the self effacing Cooper could have.

In real life you consent to your exploitation. This is true of celebrity heroes from Buffalo Bill to Michael Phelps. Some like Sergeant York and Neil Armstrong completely resisted the lure of fame and easy money.

Walter Catlett has a nice part in a very typical Walter Catlett role as a publicity agent, something he took a patent out on in the way he played those kind of roles.

It's Tough To Be Famous is not a bad film, but it's hardly the Sweet Smell Of Success which really takes a look at the cult of celebrity and how so many crave to be one.

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