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The Meanest Man in the World (1943)

 -  Comedy  -  12 February 1943 (USA)
6.7
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Ratings: 6.7/10 from 146 users  
Reviews: 5 user | 6 critic

Compassionate small-town lawyer Richard Clarke moves to New York City to seek his fortune, but is unsuccessful until he takes a friend's advice and tries to convince the world he's a ... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview:
...
Richard Clarke
...
Janie Brown
...
Shufro
...
Frederick P. Leggitt
Matt Briggs ...
Arthur Brown
...
Kitty Crockett
Margaret Seddon ...
Mrs. Frances H. Leggitt
Helene Reynolds ...
Wife (Park Ave. Neighbor)
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Storyline

Compassionate small-town lawyer Richard Clarke moves to New York City to seek his fortune, but is unsuccessful until he takes a friend's advice and tries to convince the world he's a ruthless heel. Suddenly he's the most popular lawyer in town -- but he could lose his fiancée. Written by Kevin Ackley <kackley1@aol.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy

Certificate:

Approved
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

12 February 1943 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

O Maior Sovina do Mundo  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Having directed Jack Benny's finest screen performance in To Be or Not to Be (1942), the legendary Ernst Lubitsch oversaw retakes of this later film between early November and November 10, 1942. Writer Morrie Ryskind, who had worked on the early stages of the screenplay, was brought back to create new dialogue for the retakes. Neither contributor received an opening credit. See more »

Connections

Version of The Meanest Man in the World (1923) See more »

Soundtracks

Love in Bloom
(uncredited)
Music by Ralph Rainger
heard frequently in the opening and closing credits, throughout the soundtrack, and as entertainment in the bar
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Extremely lightweight comedy is delightful but too brief
23 July 2012 | by (Minnesota) – See all my reviews

Jack Benny stars as Richard Clarke, a small town lawyer who moves to New York to seek success and discovers that he may not have what it takes—namely, he's just too kindhearted and sympathetic to attract any clients.

Eddie "Rochester" Anderson co-stars as Shufro, Benny's valet and right hand man; their relationship essentially duplicates that between Rochester and boss Benny on their radio program—that is, Rochester mainly follows orders but seldom hesitates to offer an opinion or suggestion.

The simple plot: Benny decides to try being meaner. Sure enough, when he steals a lollipop from a child and the event is captured by a newspaper photographer, the work starts flooding in. Success at last? Well, there are complications….

Priscilla Lane, charming and lively as Benny's fiancée, is understandably upset when she discovers that he's become a minor celebrity famed for unabashed meanness.

Edmund Gwenn is hilariously wicked in a small role as a client who needs help throwing an old lady out of her apartment. (It's his brother's widow.) Anne Revere is also good as Benny's bored secretary. (She hopefully shows him a trashy novel she's reading about a lawyer who makes passes at his secretary; instead of taking the hint, Benny asks to borrow the book when she's done with it.)

Unfortunately, the whole thing is only 57 minutes long, which doesn't allow much time for any of these fun supporting characters to shine. Oddly, the plot seems to build rather slowly—and then when things do start happening, the action is suddenly very fast paced, and then is just as suddenly over. (Apparently there were some editing issues behind the scenes.)

Definitely worth watching, though, especially for the great teamwork between Benny and Rochester—also for the hilarious series of newspaper headlines that chronicle Benny's adventures as the Meanest Man.


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