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So You Want to Be a Salesman (1947)

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Joe McDoakes is new at selling vacuum cleaners and, despite using every technique and approach in the manual, he fails to sell even one, as his wife also refuses to buy one. He is fired and ends up doing singing commercials on the radio.


(as Richard Bare)


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Title: So You Want to Be a Salesman (1947)

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Cast overview:
George O'Hanlon ...
Art Gilmore ...
Narrator (voice)


Joe McDoakes starts his new job as a door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman for the Atom Smasher Corporation, whose sales managers treat the company like it's the military and the salesmen its foot soldiers. Joe follows the training manual in trying to sell the vacuums, but doesn't seem to have much luck, even in the off chance that he does come across a willing buyer. His failure in this job is to the dismay of his exasperated wife, Alice. On the possibility of a court martial by the sales managers and a dishonorable discharge from the corporation if he doesn't come through, Joe is certain that he can become a success in the sales business. Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

joe mcdoakes | narration | sequel


Comedy | Short


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

13 September 1947 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Followed by So You Want to Be Popular (1949) See more »


Turkey in the Straw
Used as the bubble bath melody
See more »

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User Reviews

So You Want to Be a Comic
7 July 2006 | by (Van Buren, Arkansas) – See all my reviews

Richard L. Bare directed over fifty of the popular "So You Want To Be...." one-reeler short subjects (just over ten minutes long) in the 40's and 50's, each one starring the hair-brained dope,Joe McDoakes (George O'Hanlon, later the voice of George Jetson). Joe's dutiful wife, Alice, was always played by Jane Harker. The narrator for the series, Art Gilmore, has one of the most recognizable voices in show business. He later did the narration for the popular TV series, "Highway Patrol." Slapstick was emphasized in a scattergun approach. Some of it worked; some of it was downright stupid. No one could be as dumb as Joe McDoakes and that's the main problem watching the series today. A master comic such as Stan Laurel could be a half-wit and make it believable. George O'Hanlon was not that talented or versatile. So many times O'Hanlon's humor fell flat. Since O'Hanlon with director Bare wrote the scripts, they must share the blame.

"So You Want To Be A Salesman" is a typical entry in the series that would usually be shown just before the feature attraction, along with the newsreel, a cartoon, coming attractions trailers, and advertisements, both local and nation-wide. The opening always showed Joe behind a giant eight ball. This one was released in 1947 when many GI's were attempting to fit back into civilian life, yet finding it difficult to get a suitable job. Joe is such a person. He wants to be a salesman for the money, but also to impress his wife. He gets a job selling Atom Smasher vacuum cleaners door to door. His boss is one of his old commanders who already knows Joe's limitations, but is willing to give Joe a try. One can well imagine the messes Joe gets himself into applying his interpretation of the Atom Smasher Guide Book.

For those wishing to see a Joe Doakes short, "So You Want To Be A Salesman" is a good one to watch. It is typical of the series and one that actually delivers the laughs in a few places.

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