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Aubrey cons Amy into thinking he's a railroad bigwig. When he loses his job he takes one wearing a sandwich board. After he helps Joe sell his patent for a good price and an old railroad deal comes through, he's back on top and ready to marry Amy again. Written by
Ed Stephan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The part of J. Aubrey Piper was originally to be played by Lee Tracy, but his contract was terminated by MGM when, during the production in Mexico of Viva Villa! (1934), he got drunk, urinated off a balcony onto a passing patrol of Mexican soldiers (who almost shot him) and was deported from Mexico. Spencer Tracy got the part with the help of Frank Morgan, and afterwards signed a long-term contract with MGM. See more »
Spencer Tracy was busy working at Fox Studio at this time, turning out a succession of B film programmers that gave very little indication of the star he would eventually become. Fox loaned him out occasionally and they did here to MGM where he would really hit the big time.
Watching The Show-Off today I thought of two early television characters that Tracy reminded me of. A little bit of Phil Silvers as Sergeant Bilko and a whole lot of Jackie Gleason as Ralph Kramden.
The film is of course based on George Kelly's play of the same name and in doing a little research on Kelly I found there was a live production on television in the Fifties that starred none other than Jackie Gleason. Red Skelton did a remake of this as a feature film, but I hope that Gleason's performance is not lost and a kinescope of the performance exists and is preserved.
Tracy's a lovable mug with a gift for gab who like Ralph Kramden had every big scheme blow up in his face. And he's got his Alice here in the person of Madge Evans who Audrey Meadows could have played in a remake. Tracy's not a womanizer here, he really does love Madge and she him. But Madge is about at her wit's end with him.
During the course of things they have to move back with her mother. You remember Ralph's mother-in-law? Clara Blandick almost steals the film as Madge's mom who cannot stand her son-in-law. Like Bilko and Ralph he's always "on" all the time. I know I couldn't stand living with someone like that.
Tracy gives it a good try and the cast does well. But maybe the film needed a Norton character.
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