You’re Telling Me (1934)

Article #1325 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 10-30-2004
Posting Date: 3-29-2005
Directed by Erle C. Kenton
Featuring W.C. Fields, Joan Marsh, Buster Crabbe

An inventor attempts to help his daughter to marry the rich kid in town by selling his new invention; a puncture-proof tire.

I’ve always been a little disappointed by this W. C. Fields comedy. It’s one of those where he places his character in a thoroughly domestic situation, which is actually a very interesting thing to do from a character perspective. The persona of W. C. Fields as a somewhat misanthropic low-life is challenged when he plays a married man; he mainly wants to drink with his friends and to tinker with his inventions, but he’s compromised by having to squelch his own personality so that he can get along with his wife and to help his daughter (who he truly loves) to win the man of her dreams. It’s a fairly sophisticated type of character comedy, and even though he never plays for sympathy, you care for him. Nevertheless, I find this one a little short on laughs (unlike IT’S A GIFT), and I think this is due to the fact that he’s not given enough annoying characters to contend with. There are moments, though; the movie builds up to the classic scene of him trying to tee off at a golf course only to have all sorts of obstacles get in his way (including an incompetent caddy), and certain other moments also work beautifully. There’s a scene of him rolling his tire down the street with a stick that is both funny (he’s a grown man) and touching (there’s a part of him that’s still quite childlike). For me, the biggest laugh revolves around a bottle of roach exterminator, and the most surreal moment deals with his attempt to placate his wife by buying her a pet; namely, the biggest bird in the pet store.

Oh, and the fantastic aspect of the movie is the puncture-proof tire, which is even able to resist bullets.

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