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A Successful Failure (1934)

Passed | | Comedy | 15 October 1934 (USA)
Ellery Cushing is full of catchy sayings and old-fashioned wisdom. But all that his family cares about is how much money he makes, and all that his boss at the newspaper sees is that ... See full summary »





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Complete credited cast:
Lucile Gleason ...
Phil Stardon
George P. Breakston ...
Tommy Cushing
William Janney ...
Robert Cushing
Ruth Cushing
Clarence Wilson ...
H.T. Flintly, News Record Editor
Jerry Franklin, Ruth's Beau
Richard Tucker ...
J.W. Blair, Atlas Broadcasting


Ellery Cushing is full of catchy sayings and old-fashioned wisdom. But all that his family cares about is how much money he makes, and all that his boss at the newspaper sees is that Cushing is getting too old to keep up with his work. So his loyal co-worker Phil decides to see what he can do to help everyone see what his friend has to offer. Written by Snow Leopard

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Release Date:

15 October 1934 (USA)  »

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Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


The earliest documented telecast of this film took place in New York City Tuesday 6 June 1950 on Four Star Theatre on WPIX (Channel 11). See more »

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User Reviews

It the Depression, darn it!!
16 February 2016 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

Ellery Cushing is a middle aged man who is modestly successful. He owns a home and his family has plenty of food and all the comforts of home. Despite this, his worthless wife and awful kids treat him like he's a failure. None of them work (although the two oldest are clearly old enough to get jobs) and yet they hound the guy to ask his boss for a raise. While all this seems pretty awful, you must remember that this is during the Depression--a time when many, many people were out of work and jobs were very hard to come by. 1934, for example, had an unemployment rate of almost 22%. Because of this, the audience can't help but hate the guy's family...I know I sure did.

When Cushing goes to work (after his family harasses him about the raise yet again), he finds his nasty boss has fired him. His friend, a reporter who is also dating Cushing's daughter, Ruth, is so angry that he quits as well. As to what to tell the family, Ellery is convinced not to say anything as he might just be able to get another job and his family won't have to be the wiser. Surprisingly, he helps re-invent Cushing into a radio show host, Uncle Dudley--a nice old man with homespun wisdom a lot like Will Rogers. Yet despite the new job and more money, the family still seems totally focused on money...his money. And, they don't realize that the man they like and respect on the radio is Dad...the man they totally disregard.

This film does have some significant plot problems. Why does Cushing allow his family to treat him like dirt? Why does his reporter friend love Ruth when she is just awful? And, why does Ruth seem interested in Franklin--a man who is even worse than any one of the Cushings? Additionally, the family is so bad that throughout the film you keep wanting something terrible to happen to them...something violent and which hopefully leaves them dead!! I think they went too far and presented most of the family in too much of a one-dimensional way. Why Ellery cared about them, I have no idea--and that really hurt the film.

So am I saying the film is bad? No...but it's got problems that keep it from being much better than it was. A case of a film with a good idea but which was undone a bit by pedestrian writing. Worth seeing but not altogether satisfying. A rewrite making the family less hateful would have improved it tremendously. Also, the ending was just too pat to be believable after seeing such a hateful family.

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