January 29, marks 137 years since my favorite comedian WC Fields
entered the world. It is certainly a testament to his unmatched hilarity that nearly a century and a half later people are still watching his films. So far on the blog I have written about It's A Gift, It's The Old Army Game, Pool Sharks, and fashions in Fields films. This year I want to focus on 1934's You're Telling Me!
This isn't one of Field's most famous film, but it is, in my opinion, one of his best.
As in most of his other classic 1930s films Field's plays a relatively ordinary guy. A hapless inventor named Sam Bisbee
with a wife and daughter
and of course a weakness for strong drink (in the clip below you can see him using one of his inventions a key hole finder for use upon returning late from the bar).
Sam is convinced he is on the verge of major success since he has succeeded in inventing a puncture proof tire which he believes will make him millions. He arranges a meeting with an auto executive to show off his new tires, but naturally it doesn't go as planned. Bisbee's idea is to shoot at his tires with a gun, demonstrating the impenetrability, but unbeknown to him a police officer has moved his car and an identical car with normal tires is in its place.
Bisbee returns home distraught about his failure but his wife and daughter are completely unsympathetic. His daughter Pauline, played by the lovely Joan Marsh ( I love her adorable tie neck sweater)
has gotten engaged to the richest bachelor in town Bob Murchison, played by Buster Crabbe,:
but her intended mother in law, Mrs. Murchison, played by Field's film regular Kathleen Howard is so disapproving of Sam that she has sworn to disinherit Bob if he marries Pauline.
Pauline, too proud to marry into a family that doesn't want her, ends the engagement and everyone is furious at Sam.
Depressed by his professional and familial troubles Sam resolves to kill himself. He books a one way train ticket and carries some poison along on the ride. However, at the last minute he changes his mind and decides to live.
Meanwhile, also riding on the train is a beautiful women, the
Princess Lescaboura, played by Adrienne Ames, (take a look at the amazing carved bangles she is wearing.)
Bisbee mistakes a bottle of iodine on the Princess's table for poison and tells her not to kill herself. He also tells her his entire story and his own recent plan to commit suicide. Lescaboura is touched by Sam's kindness, and moved by the story of his daughter's recent heart break. She decides to help Sam out.
Without telling him her true royal identity the Princess Lescaboura comes to Sam's town on a royal visit. Mrs. Murchison as the towns leading citizen is beside herself with the idea of entertaining a royal.
However, the Princess makes it clear that she is in town to see only her old friend Sam Bisbee. An elaborate party is held at the Bisbee's home and Mrs. Murchison is forced to see Sam as her social equal.
By the end of the film Sam has sold his puncture proof tires for millions and Pauline and Bob are once again engaged.
All in all You're Telling Me! Is a delightful comedy with lots of fabulous 1930s fashions that deserves to be remembered. It is available on amazon as part of the WC Field's Comedy Collection, Volume Two.