7.4/10
3,899
61 user 23 critic

It's a Gift (1934)

Passed | | Comedy | 30 November 1934 (USA)
A henpecked New Jersey grocer makes plans to move to California to grow oranges, despite the resistance of his overbearing wife.

Director:

(as Norman McLeod)

Writers:

(screen play), (from "The Comic Supplement" by) | 1 more credit »
Reviews

On Disc

at Amazon

1 win. See more awards »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
Jean Rouverol ...
Julian Madison ...
John Durston
...
Norman Bissonette (as Tom Bupp)
...
Baby Dunk
Tammany Young ...
Everett Ricks
...
James Fitchmueller
...
Mr. Muckle
Josephine Whittell ...
Mrs. Dunk
...
Insurance Salesman
Diana Lewis ...
Miss Dunk
Spencer Charters ...
Gate Guard
Guy Usher ...
Harry Payne Bosterly
Dell Henderson ...
Mr. Abernathy (as Del Henderson)
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Storyline

The owner of a general store (Harold Bisonette) is hounded by his status-anxious wife ("That's 'Bee-soh-nay'" and "I have no maid you know"). To get some sleep he goes out on the porch where he is tormented by a little boy from the floor above (Baby Dunk) and an insurance salesman down below ("LaFong. Capital L, small a..."). He uses an inheritance to buy an orange ranch through the mail, then drives off with his family for California. The orange grove consists of a withered tree, the ranch house is but a shack, and the car falls to pieces. But a racetrack operator wants the land, so all ends happily. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

California or Bust! And what they don't burn, they practically wreck...just as they will wreck you with laughter in this coast-to-coast joy-ride! See more »

Genres:

Comedy

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

30 November 1934 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Che bel regalo  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(TCM print)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

One of over 700 Paramount Productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by Universal ever since. See more »

Goofs

The way Harold lands after tripping on the skate changes. See more »

Quotes

Amelia: Why were you sitting there like a stone image when those men were insulting me?
Harold: I was just waiting for one of 'em to say something to me.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The confrontation between W.C. Fields and Baby LeRoy was such a popular success that for this rematch the title card includes "with Baby LeRoy" as if the infant had second billing. See more »


Soundtracks

On the Banks of the Wabash, Far Away
(1897) (uncredited)
Written by Paul Dresser
Performed by Chill Wills and The Avalon Boys
See more »

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User Reviews

 
It's the Best
28 May 2003 | by See all my reviews

I'm not going to repeat the story here. The story line is serviceable, but not as important as the situations and the set pieces. Mundane things like light bulbs and back porches become magical in this movie, though exactly what kind of magic is open to debate.

But I will say that this is the best of W.C. Fields's films, and that's saying something (though I do like "Million Dollar Legs" an awful lot). And I'd put "It's a Gift" in the Top 10 list of the best sound comedies ever made, and maybe in the Top 5.

The production is about as tacky as Golden Age Paramount was capable of. Compared to the Marx Brother's "Duck Soup" which was made in the same place at almost the same time, it looks like home movies.

But "It's a Gift" is every bit as funny as "Duck Soup," if not more so, and has aged less than Paramount's high-style comedies with MacDonald and Chevalier (which are still wonderful but require more of an effort from modern audiences).

Whether you plug into Fields's comedy as a painful commentary on the human condition, or if you just want some belly laughs with no strings attached , this is the film to watch. And if it's the first time you're seeing it, I envy you.

And best regards from Carl LaFong.


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