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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 <email@example.com>
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 »
Today Spencer Tracy is looked upon as a sage contemplative man of wisdom in regards to his film persona as husband, father and priest over the decades. In the Show -Off Tracy becomes one of the many characters that would try his calm patience in the years to come.
J. Aubrey Piper is a lowly railroad office employee who freely gives vent to all who will listen or are in ear shot to his delusions of grandeur. After inadvertently becoming a hero by falling off a boat to save a drowning man he hooks up with Amy Fisher (Madge Evans) who believes in him even if her family (and you can't blame them) doesn't. J. Aubrey continues to make a mess of things though and loses his job and Amy leaves him while J A is now reduced to wearing a sandwich board advertising turkey dinners.
Tracy's Piper possesses a huge ego that fails to see the error of his ways in the most glaring of circumstances. He's so abrasive, annoying and audacious at times that you just want someone to slap some sense into him. Spence goes a little over the top at times but it's when chastened and free of mania that we see the performer that would go on to be as respected as any film actor of his era bring the audience to his side. The prolific Clara Blandick (she'd appear in 10 films in 1934) as the disapproving mother provides a perfect foil for Piper with cutting one liners and withering facial expressions.
Overall The Show-Off is a mild comedy with a thin story line but it does offer an energetic performance from Spencer Tracy seldom seen in a man with the cinema gravitas of Mount Rushmore.
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