You’re Telling Me!

YOU’RE TELLING ME!, another of a quintet of comedies W.C. Field’s unleashed in 1934, this one a remake of his 1926 silent So’s Your Old Man. Very funny, directed by Erle C. Kenton, it was written by Walter DeLeon (Ruggles Of Red Gap,The Cat And The Canary), Paul M. Jones and J.P. McEvoy, though with W.C. also contributing, how much came from who is a toss-up. *

Though an optometrist by trade, ‘Sam Bisbee’s (Fields) tilt is towards inventing, but when one of his cherished ideas, a bulletproof tire, humiliatingly backfires during a demonstration, Sam gets so low he contemplates suicide by iodine. Staving that off, he chances to meet visiting ‘Princess Lescaboura’ (Adrienne Ames, 27) and their shared commiseration gives the guy a needed boost. Can she also turn his fortunes around?

Fields in fine form, with some dandy physical bits (the golf game, fiddling with the inventions) and sly repartee. The lovely Ames (she only lived to be 39) is a charmer, and as Sam’s sweet-natured, marriage-bound daughter ‘Pauline’,19-year-old Joan Marsh is also more than a little disarming.

The $800,000 gross nabbed spot #130 in ’34, making the Depression a bit more bearable in 67 giddy minutes, with “Buster” Crabbe (‘Bob Murchison’, Pauline’s well-off fiancĂ©), Louise Carter (‘Bessie’, Sam’s irate wife), Kathleen Howard (Bob’s snooty mother ‘Mrs. Edward Quimby Murchison’), Nora Cecil (town spinster, gotta have at least one), Tammany Young (‘the caddy’) and a skittish ostrich—mind those talons!

* This was Erle C. Kenton’s only lion-tamer assignment with Fields. He’d started with Mack Sennett and had been one of the original Keystone Kops. He later had to try and handle Abbott & Costello, managing that tasking feat in Pardon My Sarong, Who Done It? and It Ain’t Hay. He did well with monster mashing, first with the classic Island Of Lost Souls, then the fun 40s fests The Ghost Of Frankenstein, House Of Frankenstein and House Of Dracula.

Adrienne Ames, 1907-1947

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