7.5/10
1,049
31 user 9 critic

Man on the Flying Trapeze (1935)

Passed | | Comedy | 3 August 1935 (USA)
Hard-working, henpecked Ambrose Wolfinger takes off from work to go to a wrestling match with catastrophic consequences.

Directors:

Clyde Bruckman, W.C. Fields (uncredited)

Writers:

Ray Harris (screen play), Sam Hardy (screen play) | 2 more credits »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
W.C. Fields ... Ambrose Wolfinger
Mary Brian ... Hope Wolfinger
Kathleen Howard ... Leona Wolfinger
Grady Sutton ... Claude Neselrode
Vera Lewis ... Mrs. Neselrode
Lucien Littlefield ... Mr. Peabody
Oscar Apfel ... President Malloy
Lew Kelly Lew Kelly ... Adolph Berg
Tammany Young ... 'Willie' the Weasel
Walter Brennan ... 'Legs' Garnett
Edward Gargan ... Patrolman No.1
James Burke ... Patrolman No.2
Carlotta Monti ... Ambrose's Secretary
Learn more

More Like This 

It's a Gift (1934)
Certificate: Passed Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A henpecked New Jersey grocer makes plans to move to California to grow oranges, despite the resistance of his overbearing wife.

Director: Norman Z. McLeod
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Carny con artist and snake-oil salesman Eustace McGargle tries to stay one step ahead of the sheriff but is completely devoted to his beloved daughter Poppy.

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Stars: W.C. Fields, Rochelle Hudson, Richard Cromwell
Certificate: Passed Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A hard-drinking, socially-awkward inventor wrecks his daughter's chances of marriage into a rich family and bungles his own chances of success by selling one of his more practical inventions.

Director: Erle C. Kenton
Stars: W.C. Fields, Joan Marsh, Buster Crabbe
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

The owner of a debt-ridden circus contends with pursuant bill collectors and sheriffs and his beloved daughter's relationships with one of his performers and a stuffy but wealthy young man.

Directors: George Marshall, Edward F. Cline
Stars: W.C. Fields, Edgar Bergen, Charlie McCarthy
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A filmmaker attempts to sell a surreal script he has written, which comes to life as he pitches it.

Director: Edward F. Cline
Stars: W.C. Fields, Gloria Jean, Leon Errol
The Bank Dick (1940)
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Henpecked Egbert Sousé has comic adventures as a substitute film director and unlikely bank guard.

Director: Edward F. Cline
Stars: W.C. Fields, Cora Witherspoon, Una Merkel
Certificate: Passed Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

The Great McGonigle and his troupe of third-rate vaudevillians manage to stay one step ahead of the bill collectors and the sheriff.

Director: William Beaudine
Stars: W.C. Fields, Joe Morrison, Baby LeRoy
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

After a scandal runs a gold-digger out of town, she meets a con artist and becomes embroiled in a string of petty deceits.

Director: Edward F. Cline
Stars: Mae West, W.C. Fields, Joseph Calleia
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
Mississippi (1935)
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

Crosby plays a Philadelpia Quaker engaged to a Southern belle. He becomes a social outcast when he refuses to fight a duel. Fields then hires him to perform on his riverboat, promoting him ... See full summary »

Directors: A. Edward Sutherland, Wesley Ruggles
Stars: Bing Crosby, W.C. Fields, Joan Bennett
Certificate: Passed Animation | Comedy | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

The Bellows family causes comic confusion on an ocean liner, with time out for radio-style musical acts.

Directors: Mitchell Leisen, James P. Hogan
Stars: W.C. Fields, Martha Raye, Dorothy Lamour
Certificate: Passed Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Tillie and Augustus Winterbottom are thought to be missionaries when they arrive to find Phineas Pratt trying cheat the Sheridans out of her father's inheritance, including a ferry ... See full summary »

Director: Francis Martin
Stars: W.C. Fields, Alison Skipworth, Baby LeRoy

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Storyline

Ambrose Wolfinger wants the afternoon off (his first in twenty-five years) to go to a wrestling match. He tells his boss that he must attend his mother-in-law's funeral. The afternoon is no joy. He tries to please a policeman, assist a chauffeur, chase a tire, and ends up getting hit by the body of a wrestler thrown from the ring. A series of mishaps leads his boss to send floral tributes to the house and notify the papers of the death (due to poisoned liquor). His shrewish wife, judgmental mother-in-law, and good-for-nothing brother-in-law add to his burdens. In the end he enjoys their fawning loyalty, a raise in pay, and his first vacation. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

One of over 700 Paramount Productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by Universal ever since. Its earliest documented telecast took place in Seattle Monday 13 April 1959 on KIRO (Channel 7); in Grand Rapids it first aired 23 November 1959 on WOOD (Channel 8), in St. Louis 31 December 1959 on KMOX (Channel 4), in Detroit 8 February 1960 on WJBK (Channel 2), in San Francisco 5 March 1960 on KPIX (Channel 5), and in Cleveland 17 September 1960 on WJW (Channel 8). It was released on DVD 20 March 2007 as one of 5 titles in Universal's W.C. Fields Comedy Collection Volume 2 and again 4 June 2013 as one of 10 titles in Universal's W.C. Fields Comedy Favorites Collection; it has also enjoyed an occasional airing on cable TV on Turner Classic Movies. See more »

Goofs

Mother-in-law Cordelia says "Well he's a fiend, a wool in sheep's clothing" ... Leona Wolfinger immediately catching the error says "What?" and immediately Cordelia corrects herself "A wolf in sheep's clothing ..." and the scene continues as if no error occurs; a great recovery. See more »

Quotes

Ambrose Wolfinger: The more haste the less speed.
See more »

Connections

Featured in W.C. Fields: Straight Up (1986) See more »

Soundtracks

On the Banks of the Wabash, Far Away
(1897) (uncredited)
Music and lyrics by Paul Dresser
Sung a cappella by W.C. Fields, Walter Brennan, Tammany Young and Lew Kelly
See more »

User Reviews

Socks
8 October 2005 | by tedgSee all my reviews

Comedy is funny. I mean that it is odd in addition to being amusing. You can laugh and also wonder about why and maybe even laugh at that.

Film comedy is different than other comedy, say written comedy.

My own notions of film are that everything essential was worked out in the thirties when competing concepts elbowed each other and we ended up with the rough cinematic vocabulary we have now. Nowhere is this more true than with straight humor.

Since that time, we've developed a complex notion of the humors of irony, but what I'm talking about here is people directly depicting funny stuff.

So when you go back, you find a few innovators, something like the few jazz inventors of the 50s. What they did is pure by retrospective definition. Going back helps you discover yourself: are you a Keaton man? Chaplin, Arbuckle, Marx, Laurel?

W C Fields is one that you should experience. I liked his "Sucker" movie the best because it was his last and most mature; and the story dealt with him as Fields and the studios telling him he wasn't funny.

Here is his best early film where he does his thing. It is in the vaudeville tradition of being a bunch of loosely connected skits. But it is highly cinematic humor, just not the sight gags you see with the others. It depends all on timing.

The first sequence is the best. Our man is preparing for bed. He sneaks drinks while his witchy wife complains (in a separate bed, as this is post-code). The key joke here is him taking his socks off.

If you haven't seen it, I know this sounds odd, but Fields taking his socks off is hilarious. It takes forever. Then they hear intruders below and he puts his socks back on, taking almost as long. It is a truly precious lesson in investing in laughter. It isn't explosive. It isn't particularly subtle or clever. It is just reality bent in a complex rubato that we have to take the time to relish.

Terrific. I watched that one scene several times.

Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.


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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

3 August 1935 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Flying Trapeze See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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