It's a Gift
William LeBaron, Emanuel Cohen (executive) for Paramount
directed by Norman Z. McLeod
starring W.C. Fields, Kathleen Howard, Jean Rouverol, Julian Madison, Tommy Bupp, Baby LeRoy, Tammany Young, Morgan Wallace, Charles Sellon, Josephine Whittell, T.Roy Barnes, Diana Lewis, Spencer Charters, Guy Usher, Dell Henderson
screenplay by Jack Cunningham, based on the play The Comic Supplement by W.C. Fields, J.P. McElvoy, music by John Leipold
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Harold Bissonette (W.C. Fields) runs a small neighbourhood grocery
store, and rather unsuccessfully too. Then though he inheriots a large
chunk of money, and instead of putting the money into his store or
improving his home, he buys an orange farm in California - much to the
shock of his always nagging wife (Kathleen Howard) and his daughter
Mildred (Jean Rouverol), whose boyfriend John (Julian Madison) has
actually sold him the orange farm.
Thing is, since John has sold
Bissonette the farm, he has found out it's just a worthless piece of land,
and he is willing and able to buy it back out of honesty ... but that puts
Bissonette on alarm, as he figures John must know something he doesn't,
and if he could have been talked out of the farm before, now he wouldn't
sell it for the world.
Eventually, Bissonette really drives his family
out to California - to find a shack on a worthless piece of land on which
oranges won't grow in a thousand years. His wife and family leave him out
of protest, his car breaks down, his shack will with the next windstorm -
in a word, he has lost everything ... until two carrace promoters stop by
and are desperate to buy his land which they need for their new racetrack
- and Bissonette is clever enough to not sell until he gets a real orange
farm and a neat sum of money out of them.
Pretty much a remake
of Fields' earlier (silent) It's
the Old Army Game, this shows Fields at the top of his game as the
hen-pecked husband who slides from one hilarious situation into the next -
and the situations as such are so funny that the (somewhat clichéed)
story takes backseat here, it's sequences like Fields' attempt to sleep on
his porch being constantly sabotaged by streetnoise or his trying to serve
a blind man in his shop or unfolding a folding chair or trying to get a
shave when his daughter takes possession of the bathroom mirror that
really make the film.
A comedy classic.