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Man on the Flying Trapeze (1935)

Passed | | Comedy | 3 August 1935 (USA)
Hard-working, henpecked Ambrose Wolfinger takes off from work to go to a wrestling match with catastrophic consequences.

Directors:

, (uncredited)

Writers:

(screen play), (screen play) | 2 more credits »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
Kathleen Howard ...
Leona Wolfinger
Grady Sutton ...
Claude Neselrode
Vera Lewis ...
Mrs. Neselrode
Lucien Littlefield ...
Mr. Peabody
Oscar Apfel ...
President Malloy
Lew Kelly ...
Adolph Berg
Tammany Young ...
'Willie' the Weasel
...
'Legs' Garnett
Edward Gargan ...
Patrolman No.1
James Burke ...
Patrolman No.2
Carlotta Monti ...
Ambrose's Secretary
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Storyline

Ambrose Wolfinger wants the afternoon off (his first in twenty-five years) to go to a wrestling match. He tells his boss that he must attend his mother-in-law's funeral. The afternoon is no joy. He tries to please a policeman, assist a chauffeur, chase a tire, and ends up getting hit by the body of a wrestler thrown from the ring. A series of mishaps leads his boss to send floral tributes to the house and notify the papers of the death (due to poisoned liquor). His shrewish wife, judgmental mother-in-law, and good-for-nothing brother-in-law add to his burdens. In the end he enjoys their fawning loyalty, a raise in pay, and his first vacation. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

3 August 1935 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Flying Trapeze  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Mr Wolfinger's secretary is played by Carlotta Monti, who in real life was the mistress of W.C. Fields. See more »

Quotes

Homicidal maniac in cell: I had three wives.
Ambrose Wolfinger: Oh, yes.
Homicidal maniac in cell: But this is the first one I killed in all my life!
Ambrose Wolfinger: Oh, that's in your favor, yeah.
Homicidal maniac in cell: [Groans]
Ambrose Wolfinger: They have no more case against you than a sheep has against a butcher.
See more »

Connections

Remade as Andy Plays Hookey (1946) See more »

Soundtracks

On the Banks of the Wabash, Far Away
(1897) (uncredited)
Music and lyrics by Paul Dresser
Sung a cappella by W.C. Fields, Walter Brennan, Tammany Young and Lew Kelly
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User Reviews

 
Absolutely One of W.C. Fields' Best
5 March 2006 | by (San Francisco, CA, United States) – See all my reviews

This was one of W.C. Fields' favorite films, and in fact was closest to his own family situation, or at least his version of it. It also reprises many of his skits worked out with the writer J.P. McEvoy, which he also replays in It's A Gift and other W.C. Fields' movies of the domestic type, like The Bank Dick.

I love this movie; it contains much of the actual W.C. Fields. The son, Claude, for example. W.C. Fields' and Hattie Fields, his wife, were estranged while their son, William Claude, Jr., grew up. Fields believed, according to biographers, including his grandson, that his wife turned his son against him. He always believed that if he'd had a daughter, she would be a more loyal child. In this movie, the son, Claude, is awful to him, while the daughter, Hope (!), is loyal and loving.

The gags fly: "How can you hurt a person by throwing him on his head?" "It must be hard to lose your mother-in-law." "Yes, it is, almost impossib-, um, yes." Or my favorite exchange, the most brilliantly poignant comment on an unhappy marriage, I think, ever portrayed in a movie. "Is your toast warm, Dad?" "No, dear, it's cold. But it's all right. I've been eating cold toast now for eight years; I like it." All the while looking as miserable as anyone ever could. God, he was brilliant.

There's also the sense that Ambrose, the character The Great Silly plays, is someone lost in a world that he doesn't understand. The scene where instead of the burglars, HE is the one sent to jail. Or the scene where he's parked in a no parking zone, and the painful exchanges with the cop, the chauffeur, etc. Or when he loses the car's wheel and chases it down the hill, over the dale, down the railroad tracks, barely escaping death twice.

His actual mistress (W.C. and Hattie, Catholics, never divorced), Carlotta Monti, plays his secretary, and is the one who explains that her mother is good friends with Hookalakah Meshobbab, somehow without howling with laughter.

Ah, what a film, and it's a disgrace that it's not on DVD yet.


19 of 19 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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