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S. Sylvan Simon
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>
Fields adds a commentary on the indignities of old age to his repertoire. Often more somber than his reputation -- and all the funnier because of it -- Fields here plays a version of himself trying to sell a script to a movie studio. So we see a drawling, slow-moving older fellow in the humiliating position of pitching an idea to a producer who isn't necessarily honored or interested. Fields's script is, of course, ridiculous, just as his ideas in real life must have seemed crazy to many a studio executive. We "see" the script played out as the producer reads it, giving Fields a chance to go through his paces -- delightful, as usual, even if his obviously failing health makes it melancholy at the same time. Leaving the meeting with his tail between his legs, Fields is lovingly embraced by his niece, Gloria Jean, who contrary to what you might think, is wonderful. Her love for her uncle, and all his eccentricities, is endearing throughout. What can one say about the Keystone Kops-like windup, except that they probably had to tack a conventional finish onto a very unusual movie? This was Fields's final full-length performance, as if he knew the end was near. A sad and funny sign-off by the best comedian in movie history.
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