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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.


, (uncredited)


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

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Certificate: Passed Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

The Great McGonigle and his troupe of third-rate vaudevillians manage to stay one step ahead of the bill collectors and the sheriff.

Director: William Beaudine
Stars: W.C. Fields, Joe Morrison, Baby LeRoy
Certificate: Passed Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A hard-drinking, socially-awkward inventor wrecks his daughter's chances of marriage into a rich family and bungles his own chances of success by selling one of his more practical inventions.

Director: Erle C. Kenton
Stars: W.C. Fields, Joan Marsh, Buster Crabbe
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

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 »

Director: Edward F. Cline
Stars: W.C. Fields, Gloria Jean, Leon Errol
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

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 »

Directors: George Marshall, Edward F. Cline
Stars: W.C. Fields, Edgar Bergen, Charlie McCarthy
Poppy (1936)
Certificate: Passed Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Carny con artist and snake-oil salesman Eustace McGargle tries to stay one step ahead of the sheriff but is completely devoted to his beloved daughter Poppy.

Director: A. Edward Sutherland
Stars: W.C. Fields, Rochelle Hudson, Richard Cromwell
It's a Gift (1934)
Certificate: Passed Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A henpecked New Jersey grocer makes plans to move to California to grow oranges, despite the resistance of his overbearing wife.

Director: Norman Z. McLeod
Stars: W.C. Fields, Kathleen Howard, Jean Rouverol
The Bank Dick (1940)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Henpecked Egbert Sousè has comic adventures as a substitute film director and unlikely bank guard.

Director: Edward F. Cline
Stars: W.C. Fields, Cora Witherspoon, Una Merkel
Comedy | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

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 »

Director: Edward F. Cline
Stars: Mae West, W.C. Fields, Joseph Calleia
Certificate: Passed Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Assorted wacky characters converge on a Chinese hotel to bid on a new invention, television.

Director: A. Edward Sutherland
Stars: W.C. Fields, Peggy Hopkins Joyce, Rudy Vallee
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Sport
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

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 »

Director: Edward F. Cline
Stars: Jack Oakie, W.C. Fields, Andy Clyde
The Dentist (1932)
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Short
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

An unconventional dentist deals with a variety of eccentric and difficult patients in slapstick fashion.

Director: Leslie Pearce
Stars: W.C. Fields, Marjorie Kane, Arnold Gray
Six of a Kind (1934)
Certificate: Passed Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

When a respectable middle-class couple take a cross-country trip by auto, they share expenses with a decidedly oddball couple, none of whom know the car carries embezzled funds.

Director: Leo McCarey
Stars: Charles Ruggles, Mary Boland, W.C. Fields


Complete credited cast:
Leona Wolfinger
Claude Neselrode
Mrs. Neselrode
Mr. Peabody
President Malloy
Lew Kelly ...
Tammany Young ...
'Willie' the Weasel
'Legs' Garnett
Patrolman No.1
Patrolman No.2


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>

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Release Date:

3 August 1935 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Everything Happens at Once  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


One of over 700 Paramount Productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by Universal ever since. Its earliest documented telecast took place in Seattle Monday 13 April 1959 on KIRO (Channel 7); in Grand Rapids it first aired 23 November 1959 on WOOD (Channel 8), in St. Louis 31 December 1959 on KMOX (Channel 4), in Detroit 8 February 1960 on WJBK (Channel 2), in San Francisco 5 March 1960 on KPIX (Channel 5), and in Cleveland 17 September 1960 on WJW (Channel 8). It was released on DVD 20 March 2007 as one of 5 titles in Universal's W.C. Fields Comedy Collection Volume 2 and again 4 June 2013 as one of 10 titles in Universal's W.C. Fields Comedy Favorites Collection; it has also enjoyed an occasional airing on cable TV on Turner Classic Movies. See more »


Fields falls to the bottom of his cellar stairs ending up sitting on a revolver. He removes and raises the revolver with his right hand and switches it to his left hand. In the next shot the revolver is back in his right hand. See more »


Ambrose Wolfinger: My poor mother-in-law died three days ago. I'm attending her funeral this afternoon.
Ambrose's Secretary: Isn't that terrible, Mr. Wolfinger!
Ambrose Wolfinger: Yes, it's terrible. It's awful. Horrible tragedy.
Ambrose's Secretary: It must be hard to lose your mother-in-law.
Ambrose Wolfinger: Yes it is, very hard. It's almost impossible.
See more »


Remade as Andy Plays Hookey (1946) See more »


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
See more »

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User Reviews

Another W.C. Fields Classic Comedy
8 September 2001 | by See all my reviews

Ambrose Wolfinger, memory expert & severely henpecked husband, sometimes feels like he's going to lose his grasp on life and fall into very deep trouble - kind of like that old MAN ON THE FLYING TRAPEZE.

W.C. Fields was at a lofty point in his career when he appeared in this hilarious little comedy. The second highest paid star at Paramount - only Mae West received more - he had just returned from MGM where he was featured as Wilkins Micawber in the all-star version of DAVID COPPERFIELD. Ill health would soon begin to stalk him again as a result of his dipsomania, but here he was wonderfully whimsical, whether dealing with spiteful in-laws, bullying traffic cops or bungling burglars in the cellar. With a handful of performances like this, Fields was to take permanent possession of a unique place in American film history.

Playing the two she-dragons Fields must face & fight are Kathleen Howard as his wife, and elderly Vera Lewis as her mother. Both excellent actresses, their scenes are waspish & wickedly funny and it is easy to see how together they could drive a normal male to distraction. It is unfortunate that these two skilled ladies are now nearly forgotten.

Grady Sutton is well cast as Fields' indolent, pouting brother-in-law; his comeuppance is richly deserved. That's Walter Brennan & Tammany Young as the crooning crooks who find themselves far from the banks of the Wabash.

It is interesting to note that the two women in the film who vigorously defend Fields also had close relationships with him outside the Studio. Mary Brian, as his daughter, was a longtime friend & neighbor of Fields. They had appeared together in the silent version of the story - RUNNING WILD - and Fields insisted on her inclusion in the talkie remake. Carlotta Monti, as Fields' faithful secretary, was also his longtime mistress. A part of his life for many years, she was at his side when he died on Christmas Day, 1946.

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