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...
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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 »
A small country on the verge of bankruptcy is persuaded to enter the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics as a means of raising money. Either a masterpiece of absurdity or a triumph of satire, ... 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 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 <email@example.com>
During the car chase, the time on clock in Fields' car varies erratically between scenes. See more »
Why didn't you ever marry?
The Great Man:
I was in love with a beautiful blonde once, dear. She drove me to drink. That's the one thing I'm indebted to her for.
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The film opens with W. C. Fields' credit as star over a cartoon caricature of him. Then the chest of the character expands to bloated proportions, and the title of the film is printed on Fields' huge cartoon chest. See more »
This is possibly the last gasp of vaudevillian humor in movies, and to my mind the best beyond the early Marx brothers movies which were just filmed acts.
But this is something quite different, firmly a film, a folded film, the kind I like.
The deal is simple. Fields at this time was an unreliable drunk whose humor was considered outdated. He could only get a movie financed if he was able to use it to feature a young actress whose presence is completed unrelated to what he wants to do.
So. Fields writes and makes a movie about what? Himself as an unreliable drunk who cannot get a movie made unless it features a young girl. A third of the movie is a traditional Fields movie, with mistaken punches, punchline gags and his obnoxious humor. A car chase.
A third of the movie is more of the same, except focused on the storyline of Fields going over his script. The producer keeps denigrating the story.
And the final third is the movie he makes, with fantastic effects.
All three of these have Fields being Fields and Gloria Jean shoehorned in, in the most intensionally jarring ways with musical numbers and endearing face shots.
Whether you like Fields' humor is a matter of taste. I do like it because it is so honest. This isn't an act: he really was drunk and belligerent, closing down production frequently. But whether you like the humor or not, you have to admire the way this thing is constructed. It is all about jumping among these three narrative stances, and the movie within the movie within is all based on plot devices that feature jumping among scenarios.
This was, in my opinion an influential movie in furthering the notions of folded narrative in film.
Ted's Evaluation -- 4 of 3: Every cineliterate person should experience this.
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