Cracked Nuts (1941)

Article #1130 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-18-2004
Posting Date: 9-15-2004
Directed by Edward F. Cline
Featuring Stuart Erwin, Una Merkel, Mischa Auer

When a small-town boy wins five thousand dollars, he becomes the target of a con man and a divorced patent attorney who want him to invest the money in a fake mechanical man.

I must admit at the outset that this comedy is somewhat lame, but it does have a lot of elements that make it somewhat fun despite this. For one thing, the cast also includes William Frawley (whose divorced wife is named Ethel), Shemp Howard (as the man in the mechanical man outfit, though Ernie Stanton also stands in for the robot) and Mantan Moreland (who initially describes the mechanical man as a zombie). Mischa Auer’s character name is Boris Kabikoff (does that name sound somewhat familiar?), so it’s no surprise that the mechanical man (whose name is Ivan and who is modeled off of Mischa Auer) eventually is given the nickname of “Mr. Frankentin”. The running joke is that since Shemp has a weakness for blondes, the robot chases any of them that he finds. As you might expect, it’s all pretty silly, but given all the elements listed above, it’s also rather irresistible as well, and I suspect that I won’t prove the only one who thinks so.

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