“Maybe I’d better murder them and get it over with, huh?”
A bank employee (Charles Ruggles) and his wife (Mary Boland) are harrassed by an unmarried couple (George Burns and Gracie Allen) accompanying them on a second honeymoon road trip; meanwhile, Ruggles is unaware that his crooked colleague (Bradley Page) has hidden $50,000 in stolen money in his suitcase, but soon finds a local sheriff (W.C. Fields) and innkeeper (Alison Skipworth) on his tail.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Falsely Accused
- Leo McCarey Films
- Road Trip
- W.C. Fields Films
Six of a Kind is an infuriating affair. Competently directed by comedy veteran Leo McCarey — and featuring fine central performances by Ruggles and Boland, along with worthy “cameos” by Fields and Skipworth — it’s nonetheless completely undone by the presence of Burns and Allen. I find that their schtick (primarily Allen’s stupidity) works well in increments; it’s actually quite amusing in International House (1933), for instance, where they’re part of a much larger ensemble cast and have limited interaction with anyone other than themselves. Here, however, they play a dominant part in the first half of the story, as they make quick work of turning Ruggles and Boland’s second honeymoon into a living nightmare.
In order for this kind of “comedic” scenario to work, the honeymooning couple would have to be posited as worthy of being tortured in some way — yet Ruggles and Boland are actually quite charming, and we desperately wish they could simply get on with the middle-aged canoodling they’re so eager for. Instead, we’re forced to suffer through scene after scene of Allen’s pure idiocy literally placing her hosts’ lives at risk. Suffice it to say that I was indescribably happy once Fields and Skipworth entered the scene, and the storyline finally turned to the silly subplot about hidden money and false accusations. Fields is in top form, and does a great (if nerve-wracking) pool sketch.
Note: This film possesses an odd connection with Frank Tashlin’s Hollywood or Bust (1956) — viz. the presence of an enormous dog on a cross-country road trip to Hollywood… In both instances, the dog provides (sadly) minimal comedic value.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Charles Ruggles and Mary Boland as the put-upon couple
- W.C. Fields as Sheriff Hoxley: “I’m about as busy as a pickpocket at a nudists’ colony.”
Definitely not; don’t subject yourself to this one unless you’re diehard Fields fan.