7 user 7 critic

Running Wild (1927)

Cowardly Elmer Finch is browbeaten by his wife, daughter, fat son and the family dog. After hypnosis he is domineering. He enters a contract with a fifteen-thousand dollar payoff, so his ... See full summary »


Gregory La Cava


Roy Briant (adaptation), Gregory La Cava (story)


Learn more

More Like This 

The Wind (1928)
Drama | Romance | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A frail young woman from the east moves in with her cousin in the west, where she causes tension within the family and is slowly driven mad.

Director: Victor Sjöström
Stars: Lillian Gish, Lars Hanson, Montagu Love
Certificate: Passed Adventure | Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

Druggist Elmer Prettywillie is sleeping. A woman rings the night bell only to buy a two-cent stamp. Then garbage collectors waken him. Next it's firemen on a false alarm. And then a real fire.

Director: A. Edward Sutherland
Stars: W.C. Fields, Louise Brooks, Blanche Ring
Drama | Horror | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Dr. Henry Jekyll experiments with scientific means of revealing the hidden, dark side of man and releases a murderer from within himself.

Director: John S. Robertson
Stars: John Barrymore, Martha Mansfield, Brandon Hurst
Underworld (1927)
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Boisterous gangster kingpin Bull Weed rehabilitates his former lawyer from his alcoholic haze, but complications arise when he falls for Weed's girlfriend.

Directors: Josef von Sternberg, Arthur Rosson
Stars: George Bancroft, Clive Brook, Evelyn Brent
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Horror | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Relatives of an eccentric millionaire gather in his spooky mansion on the 20th anniversary of his death for the reading of his will.

Director: Paul Leni
Stars: Laura La Plante, Creighton Hale, Forrest Stanley
Certificate: Passed Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Childhood friends are torn apart when one of them marries the woman the other once fiercely loved.

Director: Clarence Brown
Stars: John Gilbert, Greta Garbo, Lars Hanson
Certificate: Passed Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Assorted wacky characters converge on a Chinese hotel to bid on a new invention, television.

Director: A. Edward Sutherland
Stars: W.C. Fields, Peggy Hopkins Joyce, Rudy Vallee
Stage Door (1937)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A chronicle of the ambitions, dreams, and disappointments of aspiring actresses who all live in the same boarding house.

Director: Gregory La Cava
Stars: Katharine Hepburn, Ginger Rogers, Adolphe Menjou
Drama | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

The tenements are home to an international community, including the friends and family of a tough young ragamuffin named Annie Rooney, but their neighborhood may be threatened by a dangerous street gang.

Director: William Beaudine
Stars: Mary Pickford, William Haines, Walter James
5th Ave Girl (1939)
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Feeling unwanted by his wife and children, a wealthy industrialist hires an unemployed young woman to pose as his mistress.

Director: Gregory La Cava
Stars: Ginger Rogers, Walter Connolly, Verree Teasdale
3 Bad Men (1926)
Romance | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Three outlaws come to the aid of a young girl after her father is killed.

Director: John Ford
Stars: George O'Brien, Olive Borden, Lou Tellegen
Carmen I (1915)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

In order to help her smuggler kinsmen, a sultry gypsy seduces and corrupts an officer of the Civil Guard turning him into a traitor and murderer.

Director: Cecil B. DeMille
Stars: Geraldine Farrar, Wallace Reid, Pedro de Cordoba


Complete credited cast:
W.C. Fields ... Elmer Finch
Marie Shotwell Marie Shotwell ... Mrs. Elmer Finch
Mary Brian ... Elizabeth Finch
Claude Buchanan Claude Buchanan ... Dave Harvey
Frederick Burton ... D.W. Harvey
Barnett Raskin Barnett Raskin ... Junior
Frank Evans Frank Evans ... Amos Barker
Edward Roseman Edward Roseman ... Arvo - the Hypnotist


Cowardly Elmer Finch is browbeaten by his wife, daughter, fat son and the family dog. After hypnosis he is domineering. He enters a contract with a fifteen-thousand dollar payoff, so his courage can last beyond the hypnosis. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Laughter has broken loose! Fields's funniest comedy, "Running Wild" is running first for comedy honors of the season. It's the hit of a lifetime. (Print Ad- Daily Times, ((Longmont, Colo.)) 2 December 1927) See more »









Release Date:

11 June 1927 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Dans la peau du lion See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Elmer Finch: I'm a lion!
See more »


Featured in Hollywood: Star Treatment (1980) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

This is not how I want to remember The Great Man
1 June 2005 | by wmorrow59See all my reviews

I first became interested in W.C. Fields in the late 1960s after seeing some of his movies on TV, and soon read all the books about him I could get my hands on. One thing I was dismayed to learn was that most of his silent movies were believed to be missing, including the bulk of the feature films he made at the Paramount-Astoria studio in New York in the late '20s. Happily, in the years since then a number of these films have been rediscovered, restored, and publicly screened. While it must be said that Fields was at a disadvantage in silent movies without his distinctive voice and delivery, two of the recovered works, It's the Old Army Game and So's Your Old Man, are generally pleasant and amusing, if not on par with his talkie classics. A third survivor, Running Wild, is in my opinion something of a misfire, however. Here the problem wasn't the lack of sound so much as an ill-conceived story for which Fields was not well suited, not to mention a sour tone that isn't much alleviated by the occasional flashes of humor.

Fields plays downtrodden Elmer Finch, the kind of timid soul who would have been called a "milquetoast" at the time, but would be called a wimp (or worse) today. Elmer lives in fear of his nasty wife and her son by an earlier marriage, a fat teenage boy who devotes all his time to tormenting his step-father and step-sister, Mary. (Mary is played by the gorgeous Mary Brian, perhaps best remembered as Wendy opposite Betty Bronson's Peter Pan.) Mrs. Finch and Junior openly express their contempt for Elmer, calling him a "boob" and a "sap," and the boy sics his dog on him. Where his career is concerned, things are no better. Elmer works as a low-level clerk at a toy manufacturing firm; he hasn't been promoted in twenty years and is considered a dunce, an opinion he confirms when he alienates an important client and thus loses a crucial account. Through a series of unlikely circumstances Elmer winds up on stage at a vaudeville show during a mesmerism act, and is hypnotized into believing that he is a "roaring lion." He escapes from the theater before the hypnotist can lift the spell, and, in a kind of angry daze, goes on a long-suppressed rampage, using brute force and intimidation to regain that important account for his firm, get promoted, frighten his wife into submission, and beat the living daylights out of his obese step-son.

Maybe this sounds like a satisfying wish-fulfillment scenario, but I found it unpleasant and only rarely amusing. Perhaps the main problem was that in the opening scenes Elmer Finch is so thoroughly degraded that, while we might pity him, he's too hapless to serve as a proper leading man, even in a comedy. It's not a joy to watch W.C. Fields play this character. In some of his later films Fields would surround himself with mean, grasping family members, and he'd sometimes play the henpecked husband, yet he learned to retain a shred of dignity and also to give indications of rebellion simmering underneath. But in this film Fields' character is so defeated it's dispiriting to see, and the first portion of the story dwells on Elmer's multiple humiliations to the point of masochism.

Once Elmer inadvertently becomes a "lion," however, the film trades masochism for sadism, and the time-honored satisfaction of watching a worm turn is dampened by the crude, violent behavior that marks his transformation. Now, instead of cringing, Elmer bellows at everyone, throws punches, calls the directors of his firm "numbskulls" and "fatheads," and generally behaves like a drunken bully. When he gets home he yells at his wife and then thrashes his step-son for no particular reason, just to show him who's boss. And yet Elmer's dazzled wife and daughter now call him "wonderful," and we're apparently meant to feel the same way. After Arno the Hypnotist finally shows up and removes Elmer's spell we're given to understand that he'll temper his behavior in the future while still being more assertive. Okay, but this last-minute promise doesn't leave us with much satisfaction, nor does it help that, when last seen, Elmer is once more chasing down Junior to deliver another thrashing.

In 1930 Harry Langdon made a two-reel version of this story called The Shrimp, and although Langdon was more suited to the material the problem with his remake is similar to the problem here: our protagonist swings between two extreme personalities, neither one of which is palatable. Running Wild has its moments, but over all it remains a failed attempt to exploit two facets of Fields' screen persona, the wimp and the blow-hard, without the leavening of his more attractive and endearing traits.

13 of 21 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 7 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Free Movies and TV Shows You Can Watch Now

On IMDb TV, you can catch Hollywood hits and popular TV series at no cost. Select any poster below to play the movie, totally free!

Browse free movies and TV series

Stream Trending TV Series With Prime Video

Explore popular and recently added TV series available to stream now with Prime Video.

Start your free trial

Recently Viewed