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S. Sylvan Simon
Poppy, daughter of carnival medicine salesman Professor McGargle, falls in love with the Mayor's son. Countess Maggie Tubbs DePuizzi is claimant to the Putnam estates, but McGargle and lawyer Wiffen plot to make Poppy claim the fortune. Wiffen and the Countess double-cross the Professor, but kindly Sarah Tucker notices a resemble between Poppy and the deceased Mrs. Putnam. It turns out that McGargle adopted the girl, she is the rightful heir, the purported Countess is only a showgirl, and every one has a happy ending. Written by
Ed Stephan <email@example.com>
Prof. Eustace McGargle was W.C. Fields' most frequently performed role, having played it for 328 performances on Broadway in 1923 and in the silent movie Sally of the Sawdust (1925) before making this film version. See more »
It's 1883 and Professor Eustace P. McGargle, charlatan extraordinaire, arrives in the bucolic berg of Green Meadow. There he will attempt to deceive the local rubes into believing his beautiful daughter POPPY is heiress to an unclaimed fortune.
Once again, the inimitable W. C. Fields manages to merge the lovable & the larcenous into a highly amusing package designed to delight even the most jaded audience. Watching him perform his classic routines - the temperance lecture, the croquet game, the instrumental solo - is to be in the hands of a comic master. And has cinema produced funnier frauds than The Talking Dog or Purple Bart's Sarsaparilla? Probably not.
Fields had played the flimflamming professor before - on Broadway in 1923 and in D. W. Griffith's silent SALLY OF THE SAWDUST and he had made the role his own. But Fields' health was now at a low ebb after years of alcoholic overindulgence and he needed 10 months of rehabilitation and a sojourn in a sanitarium before beginning POPPY. And the filming itself was not without incident: his scene on the ordinary' bicycle - which could have been handled by a stunt man - resulted in a fall that broke a vertebrae, leaving him in much pain. This is not apparent in his performance, however. (Another accident after filming ended sent him back for a further stint in the hospital.)
Fields' co-stars also do much to add to the high entertainment level of the film: Catherine Doucet & Lynne Overman play a conniving countess & shyster lawyer who have their own plans for getting their greedy hands on the envied greenbacks; Maude Eburne is a fiercely protective old lady who befriends Poppy; and skeletal Bill Wolfe is very droll as a gardener who refuses to be cheated by one of Fields' scams. Movie mavens will recognize Dewey Robinson as the calliope driver who is one of Fields' early victims.
As the young lovers, you could scarcely have done any better than Rochelle Hudson & Richard Cromwell. Having both lit-up many a film during the 1930's, they bring a great deal of charm to their roles, even in scenes which spread on the sticky sentiment a bit too thick. And Miss Hudson supplies the film with its loveliest moment when she sings A Rendezvous With A Dream,' a tune which definitely deserves to be revived.
Fields, of course, dominates everything. Which is as it should be. However it is sad that the contributing factor to his eventual death - dipsomania - was already starting to destroy his body when he made this very funny film.
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