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 »
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 »
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 <email@example.com>
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 »
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 »
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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