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The wealthy Van Dyke family are constantly in the media for outrageous behavior, much to the frustration of patriarch Dan Van Dyke. His self-centered, bubble-headed wife has a fondness for foreign imports, including "pet projects" like dancers and such. His spoiled children Tony and Carol have constant run-ins with the law. When Dan himself ends up in the clink for five years for tax evasion, he becomes bunk-mates with ex-bootlegger Joe "Spots" Ricardi. Ricardi lectures him on being such a push-over for an out-of-control family, so a dying Dan makes Ricardi his estate trustee once he is released from prison. Ricardi is thrust into high society and must do everything he once nagged Dan to do in order to bring the unruly brats under control. This is even more difficult than it seems as Carol defies him at every turn, and his old gang is trying to get him back in the business. Written by
A rather strange reworking of the Kooky Family genre
In the 1930s, there were an awful lot of films about kooky families and the rich husbands who were exasperated trying to deal with them. The most famous (and best) of these was "My Man Godfrey" but there were many more. Two actors who made quite a few of these were Billy Burke and Walter Connelly...and they're both in this film. However, despite all the similarities, this one has a lot of differences...and there's a lot of reason to see it even if you think you've seen them all.
When the film begins, Daniel Van Dyke (Connelly) is at his wits end with his awful adult children and wife. They spend money like it grows on trees and are constantly embarrassing themselves in the press. However, Daniel has a way out. This rich businessman happens to be headed to prison for the next five years and it seems like a real relief!
While in prison, Daniel meets Spot Ricardi, a very famous mobster who made his fortune bootlegging. The two become fast friends and Daniel really admires Ricardi because Ricardi is a real man and wouldn't put up with his family doing the sort of crap the Van Dykes were doing! Because of this, when Daniel becomes deathly ill he does something wild...he appoints Ricardi as his executor and trustee. Now, with Ricardi getting out of prison in a few days he'll be able to tell the family to tow the line...or else they'll be cut off without a dime! And, that's exactly what Ricardi does...though Daniel's very hot- headed and foolish daughter (Joan Bennet) decides to come up with a plan to FORCE Ricardi to give her money...and boy, what a stupid plan it turns out to be! It's so stupid that it's up to Ricardi to come to her rescue!
This film definitely surprised me several times--not only with the plot but with some of the casting. Imagine having Donald Meek (a guy who lived up to his name and almost always played wimpy sorts of guys) playing a gangster who says "Give him to me...I wanna try out my new gun"! All in all, a fun and very enjoyable film...one that currently has been posted on YouTube.
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