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The Meanest Man in the World (1943)

Approved | | Comedy | 12 February 1943 (USA)
Compassionate small-town lawyer Richard Clarke moves to New York City to seek his fortune, but is unsuccessful until he takes a friend's advice and tries to convince the world he's a ... See full summary »

Director:

Sidney Lanfield

Writers:

George Seaton (screenplay), Allan House (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview:
Jack Benny ... Richard Clarke
Priscilla Lane ... Janie Brown
Eddie 'Rochester' Anderson ... Shufro
Edmund Gwenn ... Frederick P. Leggitt
Matt Briggs ... Arthur Brown
Anne Revere ... Kitty Crockett
Margaret Seddon Margaret Seddon ... Mrs. Frances H. Leggitt
Helene Reynolds ... Wife (Park Ave. Neighbor)
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Storyline

Compassionate small-town lawyer Richard Clarke moves to New York City to seek his fortune, but is unsuccessful until he takes a friend's advice and tries to convince the world he's a ruthless heel. Suddenly he's the most popular lawyer in town -- but he could lose his fiancée. Written by Kevin Ackley <kackley1@aol.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Meet the world's biggest heel in the screen's most hiss-terical show! See more »

Genres:

Comedy

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

12 February 1943 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

El hombre más malo del mundo See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Twentieth Century Fox See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film was edited down to one of the shortest "A" features of the Forties, with a running time of merely 57 minutes. According to The Motion Picture Herald Production Digest, the movie's brief duration caused booking problems. See more »

Connections

Version of The Meanest Man in the World (1923) See more »

Soundtracks

Down Argentina Way
(uncredited)
Music by Harry Warren
Hummed and wiggled by Eddie 'Rochester' Anderson
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Extremely lightweight comedy is delightful but too brief
23 July 2012 | by csteidlerSee all my reviews

Jack Benny stars as Richard Clarke, a small town lawyer who moves to New York to seek success and discovers that he may not have what it takes—namely, he's just too kindhearted and sympathetic to attract any clients.

Eddie "Rochester" Anderson co-stars as Shufro, Benny's valet and right hand man; their relationship essentially duplicates that between Rochester and boss Benny on their radio program—that is, Rochester mainly follows orders but seldom hesitates to offer an opinion or suggestion.

The simple plot: Benny decides to try being meaner. Sure enough, when he steals a lollipop from a child and the event is captured by a newspaper photographer, the work starts flooding in. Success at last? Well, there are complications….

Priscilla Lane, charming and lively as Benny's fiancée, is understandably upset when she discovers that he's become a minor celebrity famed for unabashed meanness.

Edmund Gwenn is hilariously wicked in a small role as a client who needs help throwing an old lady out of her apartment. (It's his brother's widow.) Anne Revere is also good as Benny's bored secretary. (She hopefully shows him a trashy novel she's reading about a lawyer who makes passes at his secretary; instead of taking the hint, Benny asks to borrow the book when she's done with it.)

Unfortunately, the whole thing is only 57 minutes long, which doesn't allow much time for any of these fun supporting characters to shine. Oddly, the plot seems to build rather slowly—and then when things do start happening, the action is suddenly very fast paced, and then is just as suddenly over. (Apparently there were some editing issues behind the scenes.)

Definitely worth watching, though, especially for the great teamwork between Benny and Rochester—also for the hilarious series of newspaper headlines that chronicle Benny's adventures as the Meanest Man.


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