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W.S. Van Dyke
Dwight Dawson, who runs an unsuccessful success school, stages a contest to find the biggest failure in the USA, for publicity value when the "dope" takes his course. But winner Tad Page is contented with his idle, lazy life and threatens to convert Dawson's other students to his philosophy. Dawson captalizes on Tad's attraction to Claire Harris to win him over; but will Tad find out Claire is really engaged to Dawson? Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The title was originally "The Magnificent Jerk," but the censors made the studio change it. See more »
Oh no, I've got no respect for anybody who was born lazy. That's like being born a king. They didn't do anything to get there. Oh, I had to develop it. Took me a long time to get where I am.
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If The Magnificent Dope had been made over at Paramount it would have been a musical film for Bing Crosby. Of course Bing would never have played the kind of rube that Henry Fonda was in this film, but the premise is something he used in a whole lot of his films. Remember he had the idea of only having to work on holidays in Holiday Inn which came out the same year. A couple of musical numbers would have been nice for this film also.
But this wasn't the kind of stuff Henry Fonda wanted to do though he does do a fine job in portraying a Mr. Deeds like bumpkin. Against his better judgment in 1940 he signed a studio contract with 20th Century Fox to get the part of Tom Joad in The Grapes of Wrath. For the next few years whenever Fonda made a good film it was when Darryl Zanuck loaned him out for The Lady Eve at Paramount and The Male Animal at Warner Brothers.
Don Ameche with assistance from Lynn Bari and Edward Everett Horton runs a Dale Carnegie like assertiveness training course which has been on the skids of late. Lynn Bari gets the idea to have a contest to find the laziest man around and turn him into an ambitious go getter. Ameche likes the idea and they come up with Fonda who also happens to be from Vermont as Longfellow Deeds was.
Without saying the idea has results that Ameche and company never expected. The Magnificent Dope is lightweight stuff, but pleasant enough entertainment.
In fact Don Ameche was also getting tired of the roles he was getting at Fox as well. Both Fonda and Ameche were taking second place to Zanuck's house favorite, Tyrone Power.
Maybe The Magnificent Dope could have used a song or two though.
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