Straight out of the Great Depression comes this little morality play, with Andy MacClyde, a struggling shoe-repairman in a lower-class town ruled by political graft and corruption, who decides to run for Mayor on the "Share the Wealth" platform. No sooner has he marched into the Mayor's office to blow off steam than the town's underworld boss decides to support Andy in his bid as the "Share the Wealth" Mayor. And, yes---that means that EVERYBODY shares EVERYTHING they own with EVERYBODY else (hmmmm....an intriguing concept which sounds vaguely familiar).
The real problem arises when Andy receives word that his late uncle has just died and left him $50,000. Will the newly elected "Share the Wealth" Mayor now practice what he preach-eth?
As fascinating a relic as it is, "Share the Wealth" is another of the typically brutal Andy Clyde Columbia films, whose "humor" depends entirely on watching a lovable, sad-sack old geezer get the crap beat out of him. I wince continuously (the Three Stooges' comedies worked brilliantly because the Stooges themselves possessed an almost surreal quality, which seemed to protect them from their routinely violent antics; their apparent immunity from bodily harm was just another of their fascinating, bizarre qualities).
Poor Mary Gordon as Ma (WITHOUT use of a stunt-double) endures a continuous physical assault in this short; it's unbelievable. The worst is the scene where she sits on the floor and tries to pull Andy down out of the chimney, and ends up falling into the fireplace, where she is pummeled with falling bricks and an avalanche of black soot. Sorry, I just don't get it....but that's the sort of crude, knockabout entertainment that mid-'30's audiences still seemed to favor. Poor Mary deserved special Oscar recognition for surviving the ordeal. (Remember her as the villager who is violently pulled down into the water in the burned-out windmill during the opening scenes of "Bride of Frankenstein"? More abuse endured by Ms. Gordon).
Anyway, back to "Share the Wealth", in which the mayhem is practically non-stop. I can only say that I smiled with relief during Andy's phone call to the President in the final scene. Let's hope that America will come to the same conclusion as we venture forth in today's contentious political arena.
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