Oliver Pease gets a dose of courage from his wife Martha and tricks the editor of the paper (where he writes lost pet notices) into assigning him the day's roving question. Martha suggests,... See full summary »
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Max 'Slapsie Maxie' Rosenbloom
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Oliver Pease gets a dose of courage from his wife Martha and tricks the editor of the paper (where he writes lost pet notices) into assigning him the day's roving question. Martha suggests, "Has a little child ever changed your life?" Oliver gets answers from two slow-talking musicians, an actress whose roles usually feature a sarong, and an itinerant cardsharp. In each case the "little child" is hardly innocent: in the first, a local auto mechanic's "baby" turns out to be fully developed as a woman and a musician; in the second, a spoiled child star learns kindness; in the third, the family of a lost brat doesn't want him returned. And Oliver, what becomes of him? Written by
Charles Laughton portrayed a minister in one sequence which, because of its dramatic tone in an otherwise frothy comedy, wound up on the cutting room floor. Mr. Laughton's segment was replaced with a parody of Dorothy Lamour's South Seas movie epics. Independent producer David O. Selznick offered to buy the film in order to issue the Laughton sequence as a short, scrapping the rest of the picture. Selznick's plan was rejected by producer Benedict Bogeaus and producer-star Burgess Meredith. See more »
This three-vignettes-in-a-frame movie is not all bad. Indeed, the first segment features Henry Fonda and James Stewart in a brilliant comic pas de deux which leaves you wondering why they didn't become a cinematic pair. Given that the plot-ette they work with is unremarkable, their joint performance is even more of a miracle and a treat. Also fun is the little jazz score, which features not only Stewart doing his own tasteful piano comping, but also a guest appearance by Harry James, who not only provides the behind-the scenes music of the trumpet-playing "babe" but actually puts his mug in as well.
The second story is a bit weaker, though Dorothy Lamour does a song and dance number that sends up contemporary Hollywood clichés in a wittily sophisticated manner.
The last sequence, however, is truly lame: the pacing is slow and all the actors (especially child actor David Whorf) are annoying. The zany Hugh Herbert nicely finesses a small role but his little performance can't save the segment.
The frame itself is also uninspired, but not so deadly that it drags the film down.
Had the last two segments been as marvelous as the first, this entire movie would have been a classic. But in any case, you simply must see it for the Steward-Fonda collaboration. They command the film from the moment the camera turns on them and never disappoint.
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