“He’s the most trying man ever put on this Earth!”
A henpecked memory expert (W.C. Fields) living with his shrewish wife (Kathleen Howard), cranky mother-in-law (Vera Lewis), lazy brother-in-law (Grady Sutton), and loyal daughter (Mary Brian) finds himself in hot water after lying to his boss (Oscar Apfel) in order to attend a wrestling match.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Family Problems
- Henpecked Husbands
- W.C. Fields Films
Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary refers to this as a “near-perfect W.C. Fields comedy”, noting that Fields (as henpecked Ambrose Wolfinger) is “hilarious, taking one abuse after the other in his cruel, absurd world without every losing his patience or trying to reform”. There are numerous comedic highlights throughout — including, as Peary notes, Fields “sharing a jail cell with a crazy scissors murderer; driving [his wife] crazy by taking forever to go down and see about the burglars in the basement…; getting a series of traffic and parking tickets in succession”. Fields is in fine form (Peary votes him Best Actor of the Year in his Alternate Oscars!), and his supporting cast members are all convincing (I’m particularly fond of Howard here; her operatic background comes through loud and clear in the hilarious opening scene). While it could certainly be argued that Peary includes far too many W.C. Fields films in his book (he lists or reviews no less than 16 titles), this one is consistently humorous enough that I believe most film fanatics will be glad to have seen it — so I’m voting it a “must see” at least once. Watch for Walter Brennan, Carlotta Monti (Fields’s real-life lover), and Swedish wrestler Tor Johnson in small roles.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
Yes, as one of Fields’s mid-career classics. Nominated by Peary as one of the Best Pictures of the Year in his Alternate Oscars.