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Joe E. Brown,
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Alexander Botts is a self-described natural born salesman and master mechanic, who is trying to make a big sale of Earthworm tractors to grouchy lumberman Johnson. Since Botts doesn't really know anything about tractors, and since the old-fashioned Johnson is opposed to tractors of any kind, it isn't going to be an easy sell. But Botts perseveres, encouraged by Johnson's daughter. Written by
I gotta say it up front that I am not a huge fan of Joe E. Brown's films. Much of the reason is that in many of his films he often plays unlikable guys--real fat-heads (such as in one of his most famous films, "Alibi Ike"). Audiences in the 1930s loved his films, but I've never had much love for them. Imagine, then, to my surprise when I saw a minor Brown outing and actually liked it! This was even more surprising, as for some odd reason Warner Brothers didn't even bother renewing the copyright on "Earthworm Tractors" and allowed it to slip into the public domain! You'd assume in a case like this that the film was a real dog!
The film begins with Brown playing a guy who wants to marry his sweetheart, though her father can't stand him. To impress the Old Man, he decides to get a salesman job--though since he is a bit daft, you know the road will be a bit bumpy to say the least! When he approaches the Earthworm Tractor Company, they do not hire him, but Brown starts working as a representative for them anyway! He certainly isn't a salesman who takes 'no' for an answer! Along the way, he meets another nice young lady who he falls in love with--but what about his other girl? And, in a case of déjà vu, the new girl's father (Guy Kibbee) also doesn't particularly like Brown---but he's also a rich guy who NEEDS a tractor--or so his daughter thinks.
The film succeeds, I think, because Brown is more likable. Sure, he's still a bit of the usual rube but this time he's NOT selfish and overconfident--at least no where nearly like many of his other films ("Fireman Save My Child" comes to mind here). In addition, the stunts are amazingly good for a 1930s comedy--and a heck of a lot better for the craptastic stunts he'd soon have in his films by the David Loew's studio--which was a major career misstep in hindsight. Likable and pleasant--while not a great comedy, there is a lot to like and it's a nice change of pace.
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