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W.S. Van Dyke
Bill Lawrence wins a slew of prizes on a radio quiz program. His happiness is short-lived when he discovers he'll have to sell the prizes in order to pay the taxes on them. Written by
Daniel Bubbeo <email@example.com>
Amusing little programmer that may be dated, but moves along nicely. Department store exec Jimmy Stewart has a suburban home, two cute kids, and a dutiful wife (Barbara Hale). He's a little bored but otherwise okay. That is, until he wins a yard full of dubious prizes (fruit trees, 1000 cans of soup, et. al.) from a radio show. That's sort of okay too, until he finds out he's got to pay $7000 in taxes on loot they really can't use. Now the happy home turns upside down and into a sales bazaar as Stewart tries to raise the tax money and get his life back to normal. However, the complications pile up almost as fast and furiously as the chuckles.
Clever script from the Ephrons (Henry & Phoebe), along with a number of nice touches from ace comedy director Walter Lang. Note how he has a card-playing guest humorously peek at the cards while others are distracted by the radio show-- that had to be an inspiration of the moment. Stewart, of course, brings his usual brand of amiable befuddlement to the comedy mix, and who better to play his department store boss than that 50's curmudgeon of big business, baldy Fred Clark, (I hope there's a special place in Hollywood heaven for unsung performers like him).
I remember the mystery-guest quiz shows that the movie portrays. They were popular and fascinating for an audience trying to unravel the riddle of the celebrity guest (eg. Jack Benny as the "Walking Man"). I don't know, but I'll bet that those shows started paying the taxes on prizes after this movie was released. This is a good example of the kind of family comedy that soon migrated to 50's sit-com (Ozzie & Harriet; Leave it to Beaver). Probably it would not have been produced 5 years later, quiz-show premise or not. Nonetheless, there's enough human interest and clever comedy set-ups to overcome the period limitations and keep you entertained.
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