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The Old Fashioned Way (1934)

Passed | | Comedy | 13 July 1934 (USA)
The Great McGonigle and his troupe of third-rate vaudevillians manage to stay one step ahead of the bill collectors and the sheriff.



(screenplay), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »

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Cast overview, first billed only:
The Great McGonigle / Squire Cribbs in 'The Drunkard'
Joe Morrison ...
Wally Livingston / William Dowton in 'The Drunkard'
Albert Pepperday
Betty McGonigle / Agnes Dowton in the 'The Drunkard'
Cleopatra Pepperday
Tammany Young ...
Marmaduke Gump
Mrs. Wendelschaffer
Dick Bronson
Samuel Ethridge ...
Bartley Neuville / Edward Middleton / The Drunkard in 'The Drunkard'
Ruth Marion ...
Agatha Sprague / Mary Wilson in 'The Drunkard'
Sheriff of Barnesville
Larry Grenier ...
Drover Stevens in 'The Drunkard'
William Blatchford ...
Landlord in 'The Drunkard'
Jeffrey Williams ...
Mrs. Arden Renclelaw in 'The Drunkard'
Donald Brown ...
The Minister in 'The Drunkard'


The Great McGonigle's traveling theatrical troupe are staying at a boarding house. They are preparing to put on a production of "The Drunkard" (and do so during this movie). Cleopatra Pepperday puts up money for the show provided she can have a part ("Here comes the prince!"). Little Albert Wendelschaffer torments McGonigle all through lunch ("How can you hurt a watch by dipping it in molasses?"). In spite of being pursued by several sheriffs, McGonigle is able to keep going and see his daughter Betty happily married. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




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Release Date:

13 July 1934 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Compagni d'allegria  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


When McGonigle first sees Cleopatra, he says "Who's the old squigelum over there?" "Squigelum" is a Fields nonsense word. He would use it again in Never Give a Sucker an Even Break (1941) to describe the kissing game he teaches Ouliotta Hemogloben. See more »


Dick Bronson: Mr. McGonigle, I've got to have some money.
The Great McGonigle: Yes, my lad, how much?
Dick Bronson: Two dollars.
The Great McGonigle: If I had two dollars, I'd start a number two company.
Dick Bronson: For two cents I'd quit.
The Great McGonigle: [to Marmaduke] Pay him off!
[Marmaduke gives him a two cent stamp]
See more »

Crazy Credits

The end credits are in 2 parts; the first contain the actors and their character names in the film as a whole; The second contains the actors and their character names in the play, "The Drunkard." Five actors, therefore, are credited twice: W.C. Fields, Joe Morrison, Judith Allen, Samuel Ethridge and Ruth Marion. See more »


Featured in Hollywood: The Gift of Laughter (1982) See more »


We're Just Poor Folks Rolling in Love
(1934) (uncredited)
Lyrics by Mack Gordon
Music by Harry Revel
Sung by Joe Morrison
See more »

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User Reviews

THE OLD FASHIONED WAY (William Beaudine, 1934) ***
18 May 2007 | by (Naxxar, Malta) – See all my reviews

Quintessential W.C. Fields comedy (again, billed as Charles Bogle, he provided the story himself) boasting a pleasant period setting and a plot that revolves around a troupe of traveling players led by The Great McGonigle. The star is given yet another memorable introduction - being signaled by his daughter of the presence of the law, representing their creditors, on his way to the train which is to take them to the next town; here, again, we have a daughter who is willing to forgive her rascally father his every whim and foible.

The film, as such, relies more on atmosphere than the typical Fields 'sketches' and this, perhaps, lends it a charm - and a freshness - that it wouldn't otherwise possess. Among its many notable scenes are: Fields thinking the military reception waiting at the train station is for his troupe's benefit; the dinner sequence with a rampaging, famished troupe and Fields' hilarious encounter with Baby LeRoy (who throws food at him and drops his watch into a jar of molasses) - Fields manages to get even with the child by kicking him when no one's watching!; the rich old lady's cringe-inducing singing audition, with the star reacting accordingly (he's hoping to secure her financial backing for the play the troupe will be presenting in town by promising her a role in it - this is eventually whittled down to a single line, which she's never even called upon to deliver!); Fields falling off the stage during rehearsals, etc.

"The Drunkard" set-piece occupies a good deal of the second half: a hoary melodrama which the troupe performs with gusto - with Fields as the mustachioed and hissable villain of the piece who, at one point, reprises the immortal line from his short THE FATAL GLASS OF BEER (1933) "'T ain't a fit night out for man nor beast". With the closing of each act, the curtain comes crashing down making a loud thumping sound; still, the film is clearly intended as a valentine to the days of vaudeville - and even includes a wonderful juggling routine towards the end that showcases Fields' amazing dexterity (in spite of his advancing age, corpulent physique and propensity for booze).

The final sequence finds The Great McGonigle keeping busy as a medicine showman - having left his daughter behind, so as not to interfere with her happiness alongside a stage-struck boy emanating from a respectable family. Typically, for comedies from this era, romance and songs have been incorporated into the narrative as much as a device by which to counterbalance the star's antics as for purely commercial reasons (since these films were largely intended for family consumption).

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