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 »
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
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 »
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>
Something's amiss if I'm posting the first and only comment on this important Fields comedy, and I think I know what it is: none of his mid-30s Paramount triumphs are available for viewing! Videotapes of Fields films ca. 1932-6 are seemingly nonexistent, and they're never on television (cah-mon, Turner Classic Movies, look alive here!) End result: many thousands of younger viewers -some of 'em already fans of 30s movies- are being cheated of their comedy birthright. (Of course, his later and equally-funny Universal jobs are readily available - witness the ever-spiraling reputation of THE BANK DICK, for starters.) And you can sing THE BANK DICK's praises morning, noon and night and get nothing but 'amens' from me, but a case can be made for mid-30s Fields-at-Paramount as his best and most fertile period, and TRAPEZE -which came at the end of that run- embodies every virtue inherent in the Great Man's work. When a Fields movie fires on all cylinders, it should almost seem a throwaway: meandering plot, disconnected bits of old vaudeville, sitcom surrealism and Falstaffian braggadocio loosely strung together with a nonchalant mean streak adding the sting in the tail. (Certainly, every fan of FAWLTY TOWERS needs to see this one!) Here, he plays Ambrose Wolfinger, a man as put-upon and abused in his fruitless search for middle-class contentment as BRINGING UP FATHER's Jiggs (complete with his very own harridan Maggie, played here by Kathleen Howard, whose baleful countenance could've cowed Groucho into meek silence!) The plot revolves around Fields' doomed attempts to sneak away from work to see his favorite wrestler, the aforementioned Mr. Mishabob, with neither his boss nor his wife ever being the wiser. That's it; that's the plot, thin enough to be rejected for an episode of LIFE OF RILEY. And as usual with Fields, this ludicrously threadbare conflict is the essence of his art, as we watch this browbeaten fellow struggle to maintain a sense of decorum as everyone and everything in his universe conspires to crush, defeat and deny him this one simple desire, with hilarious results. (Well, I told you about that mean streak, right?) The beauty of Fields and TRAPEZE is that, though he's essentially a small, petty, unlikable prig, everyone AROUND him is a thousand times worse - so horrid and poisonous that he becomes sympathetic and even heroic by comparison (with the exception of the one pearl of sentiment he allowed himself, the loving and understanding daughter who defends him by allowing him to think she needs HIS protection). There aren't very many comedies that deliver such richness of pleasure from such skeletal premises: in fact, most of them were made by Fields. Will someone please revive this gem before the last print falls to dust?
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