The Golden Fleecing (1940) Poster

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7/10
Elegantly Fashioned Farce
rbrb23 December 2008
This is a surprisingly fun and funny comedy.And I recall having heard the name of the lead actor, Lew Ayres,who in this film is playing one Henry Twinkle.This is the first time I have seen Lew Ayres and he certainly has star quality.

The story is about an insurance clerk who arranges a policy for what is later discovered to be a crime boss with a reward on his head. The insurance company only discovers that fact later so Henry Twinkle,the clerk, needs to keep the insured alive and the movie is all about the 'keystone cops' type of adventures of Henry in trying to protect the double-crossing boss.

Lew Ayres plays a patsy and does it very well and the first 5 minutes of the movie is quite hilarious as is much of the rest of the film. Often the picture is slap stick but thats the nature of it.

Great supporting cast and all the players are presented with style and class in 1940's super smartly tailored suits and gowns and they are all beautifully groomed as well. Modern movies could learn a lot about elegance from this type of picture.

All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable comedy, worth at least:

7/10.
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6/10
Lew Ayres tries his hand at screwball comedy...
calvinnme9 April 2017
... in a role that seems like it would be a better fit for Red Skelton.

Ayres plays Henry Twinkle, and there is an extended bit at the very beginning of the film that shows that Twinkle does not know how to assert himself as he has to brave a herd of pedestrians as well as cars almost hitting him as he runs down the street. He's in a hurry to get a client to sign a 50K life insurance policy, and he easily seals the deal as the client is in the elevator on his way out of town. Unfortunately, the client is Gus Fender, a mobster, who is about to be arrested on a slew of charges. He is wanted dead or alive for 25000 dollars as far as bounty hunters are concerned, and the other mobsters he is in league with figure he will talk to get a deal, so they want to get to him first and kill him.

But Twinkle knows none of this and runs back to his insurance agency to show the check to the boss and ask for a raise so he can marry the boss' secretary. But then his boss sees the newspapers talking about Fender and is furious that their chances of having to pay off on that policy in the next 24 hours is about 100%.

But Fender is in trouble too, as he has to get enough money to raise bail so he can turn himself in and then skip the country. He has half of the money he needs - 25K. Fender is holed up in the rural jail of a corrupt town the heads of which he has over a barrel for all of their misdeeds.

Eventually Twinkle and Fender meet again and find a way for them to solve each others problems, but of course it is not going to be that easy. Between misunderstandings, freak occurrences in the stock market, and the naivete of Twinkle, nothing goes according to plans.

This one is great fun and deserves to be better remembered. Virginia Bruce is practically unrecognizable as Fender's girlfriend. Nat Pendleton is quite believable as one of Fender's tough guys. And Leon Errol adds to the zaniness of the proceedings as the uncle of Twinkle's fiancée who hasn't had a real job in years (maybe never?) but is always trying new compositions on his oversized xylophone. Extra kudos to Lew Ayres as Twinkle, who is playing a part about 180 degrees out of what he normally plays - the thoughtful serious guy, usually a physician.

I'd recommend this one for the fun of it all.
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Twinkle, Twinkle!-- a Different Lew Ayers
dougdoepke8 November 2017
Remind me not to ride an elevator with Twinkle (Ayers), that is, unless I feel like having a good laugh. The movie's a bouncy slice of screwball, but what else could it be with a lead named Henry Twinkle. Seems his insurance salesman gets a big boost by selling a fat insurance policy to racketeer Fender (Nolan). Trouble is he doesn't know Fender's a bad guy who's probably got a short life expectancy. Thus, Twinkle better keep him breathing otherwise it's a weighty insurance payoff for the company and a demotion for our hero.

Ayers does surprisingly well as the addled Twinkle who fortunately packs a punch in his right hand; certainly not what you'd expect from the dead-serious Dr. Kildare. The first part is pretty funny as Twinkle bumbles his way along the insurance route with sweetie secretary Mary (Johnson). However, the lighter mood eventually gives way to more serious developments and a heavier feeling. Nonetheless, Ayers manages to carry the screwball idea through thick and thin. Credit too, a familiar supporting cast of Nolan, Lawrence, Pendleton, and others who cook up a sprinkling of menace along with a pinch of tongue-in-cheek. The girls, Johnson and Grey manage gamely in what amounts to stereotype roles. At the same time, director Fenton keeps things moving in apt fashion, such that the plot- heavy parts don't pall.

Overall, the flick's a fairly nifty little slice of leading man amusement, courtesy MGM and a pixilated Lew Ayers.
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4/10
Twinkle, Twinkle, little star quality: VERY little.
The funniest thing in this movie is its title. 'The Golden Fleecing' has a similar premise to Danny Kaye's unfunny comedy 'The Man from the Diner's Club': a gormless hero, on behalf of his employer, extends financial obligation to a gangster, then must imperil himself implausibly in order to undo the damage. But 'Diner's Club', as dire as it was, managed to be much more plausible than 'The Golden Fleecing'.

Lew Ayres was a slightly talented dramatic actor with no flair for comedy; his success in a supporting role in the comedy 'Holiday' was down to Ayres's willingness to give a passive performance for a firm-handed director while allowing much more talented actors to play off him. Here, in 'The Golden Fleecing', Ayres plays a schlub insurance salesman named Henry Twinkle: I guess that this name is meant to be funny, but somehow I'm not laughing. (When I said he was a schlub insurance salesman, I didn't mean he sells schlub insurance: I meant he's a schlub who has a job as an insurance salesman.) Henry is engaged to Lila (the attractive but untalented actress Virginia Grey), and they hope to get married if only Henry sells a few insurance policies.

Henry sells a life-insurance policy to a man named Gus Fender (played by Lloyd Nolan, whose face does indeed resemble a bashed fender). Henry is pleased with the sale ... until he learns that Fender is a gangster, and rival gangsters have put a price on Fender's head. If this were real life, Henry's boss could just cancel the insurance policy on a technicality. But this is a movie, so ... exit credibility, upstage left, while implausibility runs riot.

In order to keep Fender from getting killed, Henry gets involved in some criminal schemes which become increasingly felonious and decreasingly plausible. Meanwhile, Lila can't figure out why Henry is acting so weird, and of course he can't tell her. Listen, sister: when you decided to marry a guy named Twinkle, you should have been prepared.

Part of the problem with 'The Golden Fleecing' is that Fender is so unlikeable, we actually want him to get killed off ... even though this would mean ruination for Henry. Lloyd Nolan was a very talented actor (more so than Ayres) whose unpleasant physiognomy kept him typecast nearly always as crooks or unsympathetic heroes.

There are some good supporting performances here. The trim and muscular Nat Pendleton (a former Olympic athlete) plays a guy named Fatso. Leon Errol plays a character named Uncle Waldo: just the idea of Leon Errol playing somebody named Uncle Waldo is funny, but Errol has little to do in the role. Spencer Charters, Ralph Byrd and the great William Demarest are excellent in small roles. It's nice to see Ralph Byrd playing a role that isn't Dick Tracy. I'll rate this weak movie 4 out of 10.
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6/10
pleasant B with lots of familiar faces
blanche-218 February 2015
Lew Ayres stars with Rita Johnson, Lloyd Nolan, and Virginia Grey in "The Golden Fleecing," from 1940.

Ayres plays Henry Twinkle, a life insurance salesman who sells Gus Fender (Lloyd Nolan) a $50,000 life insurance policy. This impresses his boss, until he realizes that Gus Fender is a racketeer. His boss nearly has a coronary and tells Henry that he'd better keep Gus alive. Henry goes to Fender, and the two of them hatch a scheme where Henry puts Fender in jail and collects the $25,000 reward. He then is supposed to turn it over to Fender, who wants to make bail and get out of the country. That's where the problems begin.

Lew Ayres was very cute, and he's funny as a guy who just wants to marry his fiancé Mary (Rita Johnson) but becomes entangled with gangsters, with Mary becoming jealous of Fender's girlfriend (Grey).

Nothing special, with Fender's army of goofy associates, headed by Nat Pendleton, providing some comedy.
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6/10
Undiscovered screwball gem
bkoganbing13 July 2014
In between stints as Dr. Kildare Lew Ayres managed to star in this really nice screwball comedy, the kind of part that someone like Jimmy Stewart or Henry Fonda would have done had this B film from MGM were given a top drawer budget and production.

The Golden Fleecing casts Lew Ayres as a mild mannered insurance agent who sells a life insurance policy to gangster Lloyd Nolan who then gets a contract put out on him. At that point Ayres is in jeopardy of his job and he seeks out Nolan to make sure he stays alive.

It's hard to describe the rest of the film other than Nolan's various schemes come to naught and the bumbling Ayres keeps coming up a winner. Both are lucky in the women they have. Rita Johnson is faithful to Ayres and smart. Virginia Grey is the smart one on Nolan's team and if he let her handle things it might not have ended so badly for him.

If you haven't seen this one, don't miss it if broadcast.
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