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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 her mother is killed in a trapeze fall during the making of a circus movie. He and his niece, who he finds at a shooting gallery, fly to Mexico to sell wooden nutmegs in a Russian colony. Trying to catch his bottle as it falls from the plane, he lands on a mountain peak where lives the man- eating Mrs. Hemogloben. When he gets to the Russian colony he finds Leon Errol (father of the insulting boys and owner of the shooting gallery) already selling wooden nutmegs. He decides to woo the wealthy Mrs. Hemogloben but when he gets there Errol has preceded him. The Mexican adventure is the story that Esoteric Studios would not buy. Written by
Ed Stephan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The movie centers around W. C. Fields, playing a fictional version of himself, trying to pitch a script at Esoteric Studios. The purpose is presumably to provide a vehicle for Fields' young star-in-the-making niece, but it's actually an absurd story which features Fields himself. As we watch the film within the film, we're occasionally interrupted by producer Franklin Pangborn (an actor also using his real name here) telling us just how ridiculous the movie we're watching is.
With some nice behind-the-scenes shots and a completely irreverent attitude, this movie clearly had the potential to be a wonderful satire of the film industry, but it would've required much better dialog and a younger W. C. Fields to make that happen. Although it's a nice touch to have Pangborn telling us in the film itself just how bad the film is, there is nothing particularly insightful or witty about his remarks, nor is there any indication of satirical intent in the many clichéd and overworked gags seen throughout the film. The fact that there is no real effort to connect the final chase sequence to the plot is no doubt seen by many as part of this movie's charm, but there was no framework created which would let me see that as a positive. As far as Fields himself goes, it's hard to believe that only one year passed between making the "Bank Dick" and this film; he seems to have aged at least a decade. The Fields magic is missing through most of the movie, leaving him looking clumsy and tired.
In spite of these flaws, the movie is nevertheless a fun way to spend an hour and fifteen minutes. Many of the more absurd scenes are quite memorable, my favorite being Fields diving off the open-air observation deck of a luxury airplane in flight so as to retrieve a liquor bottle which fell from the railing. Some of the gags hit their mark, completely unexpected things keep popping up, and occasionally Fields is able to place himself in a situation where he can at least come close to conjuring up the mannerisms and expressions which made him such a brilliant comic actor in the past. The final sequence may have nothing to do with the rest of the film, but it's still an outstanding comic chase scene. To sum it up, this is an entertaining and somewhat memorable film which moves briskly from start to finish, but it's unfortunately not a particularly good one.
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