Larson E. Whipsnade runs a seedy circus which is perpetually in debt. His performers give him nothing but trouble, especially Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy. Meanwhile, Whipsnade's son ... See full summary »
Edward F. Cline
Fields wants to sell a film story to Esoteric Studios. On the way he gets insulted by little boys, beat up for ogling a woman, and abused by a waitress. He becomes his niece's guardian when... See full summary »
Rightly suspected of illicit relations with the Masked Bandit, Flower Belle Lee is run out of Little Bend. On the train she meets con man Cuthbert J. Twillie and pretends to marry him for "... See full summary »
A small country on the verge of bankruptcy is persuaded to enter the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics as a means of raising money. Either a masterpiece of absurdity or a triumph of satire, ... See full summary »
Crosby plays a Philadelpia Quaker engaged to a Southern belle. He becomes a social outcast when he refuses to fight a duel. Fields then hires him to perform on his riverboat, promoting him ... See full summary »
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 <email@example.com>
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?