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Tillie and Augustus Winterbottom are thought to be missionaries when they arrive to find Phineas Pratt trying cheat the Sheridans out of her father's inheritance, including a ferry franchise and a boat. The only way to keep the franchise is to win a race against Pratt's boat. Written by
Ed Stephan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
W.C. Fields wrote nearly all of his own dialogue to this film as well as several entire sequences in which he appeared, despite frequent objections from the director. After the success of this film, an exhibitor at Paramount announced that the comedian would be permitted full creative control to his following productions. See more »
The One Attempt at Pairing in Fields' Talkie Career
TILLIE AND GUS was one of three films (four with the "all star" ALICE IN WONDERLAND) where he appeared with Alison Skipworth. It was the only time in his talking films where Fields was actually built into a co-starring situation with a partner. The only similar situation he faced were in those now obscure silent comedies he made in the late 1920s co-starring Chester Conklin. But here, in SIX OF A KIND (where pairs of male/female partners were enhanced by Burns and Allen and Charlie Ruggles and Mary Boland), and IF I HAD A MILLION (in the "road hog" sequence) the chemistry and balance between "Uncle Claude" and "Skippy" was amply demonstrated. Skipworth was nobody's fool in her comic roles, and here she fully demonstrates that she is capable of confronting her thoroughly untrustworthy partner, and even (occasionally) controlling him.
Fields and Skipworth are married relatives of a young woman (Julie Bishop) who has inherited some property, including an old ferry boat. Unfortunately, the estate is in the hands of a crooked lawyer (Clarence Wilson), who is trying to gain legal ownership by every trick he knows. Fields and Skipworth return to assist their niece, her husband (Philip Trent) and their baby son (Baby Leroy - his first film with Fields). Despite Fields' grumblings, his own dislike for Wilson makes him stick it out to assist the young people.
The film is funny, but in episodes. At the beginning we see Fields, before he returns to the town where Bishop is) facing a trial in another jurisdiction. His repartee with the Judge (the great Edgar Kennedy) is a marvel. Another high spot (in a bit that other comedians have used - like Lou Costello on his television show), is when Fields is trying to repair part of the ferry boat, listening to instructions on the radio, but in leaving the room misses an important piece of information that the radio repairman is now discussing another thing to repair, and so Fields gets hopelessly befuddled trying to understand the logic of what he is accomplishing by these instructions.
Skipworth had a nice moment or two also. Wilson has purchased a modern ferry boat to drive the old one out of business. George Barbier is it's captain. Skipworth goes at night to spy out the new craft, and possibly find some way to damage it. Barbier, also on the watch sees her, and goes down to confront this interloper.
Barbier: "Do you know who I am?" Skipworth: "No! Isn't there somebody around to tell you?" Barbier hesitates - he did not anticipate that answer. He continues. Barbier: "I'm the Captain of the "Keystone"." Skipworth (looking him over): "Then what are you worried about?!" Barbier, slightly confused about the way the conversation has gone, but deciding to try once more. Barbier: "You don't understand...." Skipworth (without missing a beat): "I'm not the one who is lost!"
TILLY AND GUS is truly a very amusing movie to watch
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