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Small-town "Brown Breakfast Sausage" manufacturer Will Rogers (as Thomas Brown) maneuvers to prevent fluttery wife Billie Burke (as Paula) from taking a role in a local play, fearing she may pursue a career as an actress. To make matters worse, their son Frank Albertson (as Jimmy) may lose pretty fiancée Frances Grant (as Peggy Burns) to the footlights. Like his dad, Mr. Albertson wants to marry a housewife. Under the direction of portly and pompous Alison Skipworth (as Mrs. Pampinelli), both women get parts in the town play - along with several other Hollywood hopefuls. Their dramatic efforts to get "discovered" by a visiting talent scout turn to comedy, but Mr. Rogers may get the last laugh
"Doubting Thomas" was the film playing in theaters when its star's plane crashed. Thus, Will Rogers joined the list of media celebrities who died suddenly, and with obviously much more to contribute. His popularity can best be described as a combination of John Wayne and Oprah Winfrey; relative to the times, he may have been bigger. Rogers' final films were thankfully past the "creaky" transition from silent to sound, but the best of them have core ideals that are unacceptable. In this case, the message "a woman's place is in the house" is hammered home. Not a bad place to be, but everyone should be allowed to consider a career. Fortunately, Ms. Burke and the other women in the cast opted to entertain.
Other than that, the film is excellent. As always, Rogers is a natural; while presently not acknowledged as a great actor, his performance could have been envied by Spencer Tracy. Burke looks like she's influencing Betty White. All of the supporting cast is wonderful. Repeating her stage role expertly, Ms. Skipworth is worthy of a "Best Supporting Actress" award. You'll want to rewind after seeing Ms. Grant's fantastic dance; she moves her body with incredible fluidity. And, don't miss the very, very young William "Billy" Benedict as a golf caddy. The entire "production" staged by director David Butler for "director" Skipworth is hilarious, with sound-effects man Sterling Holloway (as Spindler) leading the charge.
******* Doubting Thomas (7/10/35) David Butler ~ Will Rogers, Billie Burke, Alison Skipworth, Sterling Holloway
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