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Too Many Cooks (1931)

Passed | | Comedy, Romance | 18 July 1931 (USA)
Two young lovers are building their house, but their relatives don't stop interfering, finally cutting off the young man's income and alienating them, but he is impressing everybody by ... See full summary »


(as William Seiter)


(by), (screen play)
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Complete credited cast:
Bert Wheeler ...
Albert 'Al' Bennett
Dorothy Lee ...
Alice Cook
Mr. Wilson (as Rosco Ates)
Robert McWade ...
Uncle George Bennett
Ella Mayer
Hallam Cooley ...
Frank Andrews
Florence Roberts ...
Mother Cook
Clifford Dempsey ...
Father Michael J. Cook
Ruth Weston ...
Minnie Spring


Two young lovers are building their house, but their relatives don't stop interfering, finally cutting off the young man's income and alienating them, but he is impressing everybody by continuing working at his home. Written by Stephan Eichenberg <eichenbe@fak-cbg.tu-muenchen.de>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

based on play | See All (1) »


Comedy | Romance


Passed | See all certifications »




Release Date:

18 July 1931 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Photophone System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The $6,988.28 Albert says is the cost of the house he's building would be the equivalent of nearly $109,000 in 2015. See more »


Referenced in A Bronx Morning (1931) See more »

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User Reviews

Wheeler vs. Dealers Who Interfer with Construction
10 August 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Well, suppose that we make a few allowances for this Comedy which begs for "constructive" criticism as an Error of Comedies rather than a Comedy of Errors....

After all, it's 1931, about three years after the invention of Sound, during this fledgling Talkie period. This film is adapted from a Frank Craven play, which probably means that it doesn't translate to a wide variety of film sets, and it hasn't many.

Bert Wheeler already proves himself a box office draw by now, and here he's surrounded by a large cast of supporting players. William A. Seiter has been directing since 1915, with a long string of Silents, and he greatly improves after this, with the founding of RKO-Radio Pictures and all.

The references to Geography seem off-kilter, however, with the train depot at the Hudson Valley location 68 1/3 miles north of NYC, which would place it near the City of Kingston, but this is set in an isolated rural area, and Albert "Al" Bennett (Bert Wheeler) figures that he'll spend about five hours each work day commuting to and fro NYC. But his Uncle George Bennett (Robert McWade) lives in Buffalo, NY, about 300 miles from NYC, and manages the commute to his bank on a regular basis.

Alice Cook (Dorothy Lee) doesn't seem to mind one bit the notion of living in isolation from her family and civilization once her and fiancé Albert's dream house is built in this rural local, and they may then marry. But, oh, that is right, he hasn't met her family yet, nor she his.

This notion seems somewhat far-fetched, that their respective relatives assemble for the first time at this remote building location and then create problems for the couple right and left--which would probably be expected of them, but why haven't they met before the engagement?

But first, each of their best friends arrive on the scene, to meet for the first time, and to take an instant disliking to each other, as Alice's long lasting friendship with Ella Mayer (Sharon Lynn), and Albert's closest friendship with Frank Andrews (Hallam Cooley) creates a strain on the happy couple, considering Ella and Frank's confrontations over their conflicting advice.

Mr. Max Simpson, the Construction Worker Foreman, (Erville Alderson) complies with Alice and Albert's self-designed blueprints, which are repeated as constantly as Mr. Wilson (Roscoe Ates) stutters for taxi fare payments from Albert to haul Alice's many relatives from the depot. Let's hope that the stuttering isn't intended as a comic element, but there's little else in the screen-story to indicate a semblance of humor.

Mrs. Cook (Florence Roberts) and Mr. Michael J. Cook (Clifford Dempsey) side with daughter Alice against Albert at every turn especially after Uncle George recommends Minnie Spring (Ruth Weston), the well-educated-in-the-social-graces daughter of an ambassador friend of his, as a potential spouse for his nephew. Mr. Cook also happens to serve as a Labor leader, who suddenly decides that the construction workers strike once the cards are stacked against Albert.

Now, whether or not "Too Many Cooks" may be considered a prototype for the "Blondie" series to appear several years down the road may be debatable, as Bert Wheeler handles his character in bumbling Dagwood fashion, acting responsibly, while no one around him does, and yet the burden of criticism falls upon his shoulders. Dorothy Lee plays her role sweetly and innocently, agreeing with and accommodating her fiancé's decisions, initially teaming with him as a pair of equals, but soon falling apart at the seams with indecision, unlike anything which Blondie would likely do. But in their defense, they haven't Penny Singleton and Arthur Lake to serve as examples just yet.

And this does contain one rather reflective scene, between Robert McWade's Uncle George Bennett and Hallam Cooley's Frank Andrews, in which Frank tells George that he'll remain a confirmed bachelor, and George tells Frank that he wishes that he would have been blest with a family, but no opportunity has presented itself throughout his busy career in Financing.

Still, it's Bert Wheeler's film apart from his often-screen-partner, Robert Woolsey, and with Dorothy Lee, who often teams with the duo from here on in, so fans of the three (minus Woolsey this time) may decide on a try at this to count the number of things which could go wrong which do go wrong when the handsome lovebirds decide to build their dream house. Or you may merely strive to watch every film every produced at least once and thereby count this among your "Must-sees."

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