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Wealthy Frederick Trumble makes an eccentric new will, secretes much of his wealth in a chair, then, within seconds, is murdered. The new heir, Fred Floogle, runs a flea circus. Of course, the reputed $12 million inheritance goes to his family's heads...then proves to consist of five chairs, which the disgusted Floogle sells just before discovering their secret. Packed with wisecracks, strange cameos, and nothing-sacred, anything-goes digressions. Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
For anyone who is considering a career as a comedian, It's In The Bag should be required viewing. For the rest of us it gives us many laughs and it's the one and only opportunity to see Fred Allen's talents on full display.
Allen's brand of absurdist humor has influenced so many people right down to today. You can see traces of his influence in Rowan&Martin's Laugh-In, the Mighty Carson Art Players from the Tonight Show and even Monty Python's Flying Circus and may be most of all the work of Mel Brooks on the screen. Because the cinema of necessity a tightly controlled script is in order, one aspect of Allen you don't see was his quick wit with an ad-lib. Some even consider him faster with a quip than Groucho Marx.
The premise for this film is that Fred is the financially strapped owner of a flea circus, owing everybody in town including bookie Ben Welden and barely supporting wife Binnie Barnes and children Gloria Pope and Richard Tyler. A long unheard of uncle however is murdered and the uncle left Allen a set of five chairs.
Our genius of a hero sells them off before a phonograph record from his late uncle tells him that $300,000.00 is hidden in one of the chairs together with clues as to who murdered him. Of course the perpetrators are shadowing Allen's every move as he seeks to retrieve the chairs from their new owners and find his fortune in the lining.
The whole thing is an excuse for several skits as Allen goes on his quest for the chairs. One of the chairs was sold to Minerva Pious who is Mrs. Nussbaum and a regular on Allen's radio show. She happened to sell the chair to one Jack Benny.
Benny's character as a miser has become so ingrained in the American culture that even today people who've heard the name know that about him and can appreciate the cheap jokes. What they might not realize is that Jack Benny and Fred Allen engaged in one of the great famous radio feuds so that dimension of the scene with Fred Allen might be lost.
Another couple of chairs goes to a nightclub where folks like Don Ameche, Rudy Vallee, and Victor Moore are picking up some extra money as singing waiters. Another goes to William Bendix, head of the criminal Bendix gang. Bendix is terrific burlesquing his own tough guy image and John Carradine who played many a sinister role on screen looks like he's having a ball playing a crooked lawyer.
Even Jerry Colonna is in this film, on loan from Bob Hope's radio show playing a zany psychiatrist. There is so much in It's In The Bag packed into less than 90 minutes you can hardly stop for breath.
This film is a rare comic treat and should never be missed when broadcast. Demand TCM acquire this film and broadcast it.
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