Aubrey Filmore (Red Skelton) is a bumbling bellboy in a Missouri town who pesters the Union officers there; he desperately wants to be a spy for the North in the American Civil War. When Filmore accidentally waylays an infamous Confederate spy known as "The Grey Spider" and is mistaken for him by the Rebels, the Union brass see it as an opportunity for real espionage - and though Filmore is a coward as well as a fool, his real motivation for derring-do is a sweet Southern girl named Sallyann, whom he will see again behind Southern lines. Written by
Gary Dickerson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
No one could figure out a simple, yet funny way to get Aubrey out of the house when he was being held captive by the angry dog. Buster Keaton, employed by MGM as a roving gag man, was called to the set, looked at the set up, and came up with the idea of removing the door hinges and letting the dog in as Aubrey got out. The most famous gag in the movie took Keaton all of five minutes to devise. See more »
The identity of the Gray Spider is allegedly only known by Generals Lee, Johnson, and Jackson. Stoewall Jackson had actually died two years earlier in 1863. See more »
[to Calbern about Aubrey]
That's another thing I can't understand. Every time I meet him I'm convinced he's a complete idiot.
See more »
Red Skelton makes the most of a Civil War comedy with some good gags...
Whether he's doing purely slapstick stunts or tongue-twisting feats ("the packet in the pocket of the jacket or the packet in the boot with the buckle" kind of stuff), RED SKELTON never misses a moment to get the most out of the series of gags upon which the screenplay of A SOUTHERN YANKEE is built.
The fun starts when he accidentally knocks out a real Southern spy known as The Grey Spider (GEORGE COULOURIS) and is chosen to take his place and given fake plans to deliver to the Union troops. Naturally, being the goof-ball that he is, he gets everything mixed up and has to cope with a bunch of hilarious mistakes--and so does everyone else.
ARLENE DAHL is amusing as the daughter of a Southern general (CHARLES DINGLE) and makes an amusing foil for many of Skelton's gags. The script has plenty of inventive situations, some of them proposed by none other than Buster Keaton who had his own Southern spy comedy years ago called "The General." BRIAN DONLEVY and JOHN IRELAND are given little to do but cope with Skelton's antics but he's practically the whole show anyway.
The brisk comedy directed by Edward Sedgwick is a better than average vehicle for Skelton's comedy style and should definitely please Skelton fans.
Note: If this had been made at Paramount, it would have been an ideal vehicle for Bob Hope.
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