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 »
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 »
Tillie and Augustus Winterbottom are thought to be missionaries when they arrive to find Phineas Pratt trying cheat the Sheridans out of her father's inheritance, including a ferry ... See full summary »
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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Because of Fields' poor health during the filming of Poppy, Johnny Sinclair, his stunt double, in a plastic mask did all of his long shots and many of the shots in which Fields had to move quickly, crawl, etc. In fact, it is estimated that Sinclair did 75% of Fields' shots with Field's himself doing only 25%. Stills of Sinclair standing in for Fields were "embargoed" by the producers, but it is rumored that a few sneaked out of the studio. See more »
When POPPY was filmed, W.C. Fields was in poor health. Suffering from back pain, he had to wear a kind of corset to keep his back straight. His condition was aggravated when he fell off a bicycle during shooting, fracturing a vertebra. This apparently accounts for Fields' relatively limited screen time, despite his top billing. But when he does appear, he shows no signs of illness. Indeed his humorously iconoclastic personality dominates the film.
It is a blessing that Fields is in this film at all. Without him, POPPY would be forgettable. The late 19th century settings, particularly a carnival locale, are pleasing to the eye. Director Edward Sutherland imbues this milieu with pastoral charm, evoking a nostalgia for a simpler, more innocent time. Never mind if that time wasn't actually as rosy as this film indicates.
Alas, the charming period atmosphere cannot enhance the tired scenario. The romance between Poppy (Rochelle Hudson), a girl from the wrong side of the tracks, and Billy Farnsworth (Richard Cromwell), a boy from a wealthy and prestigious family, was old hat even in 1936. Hudson is bland and Cromwell is wooden, so one feels little empathy toward them.
Fields rescues POPPY from tedium. As Poppy's guardian Professor Eustace McGargle, he flimflams his way through everything. His larcenousness provide for some wonderful routines that elevates the film to classic comedy such as when he cons a bartender (Wade Boteler) into purchasing a "talking" dog and when he tries to get hot dogs for himself and Poppy without paying. These bits remain in one's memory after the love story is forgotten. Fields also reveals a tender, avuncular side in his intimate moments with Hudson. One understands her dedication to him, despite his crookedness.
POPPY does not rank among Fields' best work. But it demonstrates his greatness not only in that he rises above ordinary material, but that he vigorously soldiers throughout his scenes despite his real life ailments.
6 of 7 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?