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Plot: The owner of a general store (Harold Bisonette) is hounded by his status-anxious wife ("That's 'Bee-soh-nay'" and "I have no maid you know"). To get some sleep he goes out on the porch where he is tormented by a little boy from the floor above (Baby Dunk) and an insurance salesman down below… Runtime: 68 min Release Date: 30 Nov 1934
As was my habit as a teenager, I often would stay up late at night watching old movies which were just about the only things broadcast after midnight back then . One night, I turned on the tube and a W. C. Fields movie had just started. It wasn't long before I found myself laughing. My father, for some reason unable to sleep, got up to join me. Soon he was laughing out loud too, and he wasn't one who laughed at just anything. When the scene came in which Fields tries to take a little nap alfresco--both of us began laughing uncontrollably. If someone could have seen us through a sound <more>
proof window, I'm sure they would have thought we were having seizures. NO scene in ANY of the great comedies exceeds this one in hilarity, and few even approach it. Not the seduction/dance scene in "Some Like It Hot," not the hitchhiking, not the "piggy-back" scenes from "It Happened One Night," not the "water-in-the-face" scene in "City Lights"--no scene from "Tootsie," no scene from "The Miracle of Morgan's Creek," not any of the zany scenes from "The Court Jester," or "A Night At The Opera"--none of these beat Fields' pitiful attempt at catching a little shut-eye. And this is just one sequence in a film filled with wet-your-pants laughing.W. C. Fields was one of the screen's greatest comedians. His bumbling, surly, dipsomaniac is a creation right up there with Chaplin's Little Tramp. As a gift from the gods of comedy, Fields was given an APPEARANCE of a bungler, but he was, in fact, physically adroit to a level most athletes could only dream of. Thus, he could get away with doing things SO bungling--like accidentally putting his hat on his walking stick resting on his shoulder instead of his head, and then not be able to find it, or trying to walk out the wrong side of the door--that if someone else tried them, they'd only look ridiculous. Fields makes you think these things could actually, comically, happen. He was truly a comedic genius. One of cinema's greatest comedians, in one of cinema's funniest films: Do yourself a favor--wear a diaper and SEE THIS MOVIE!
I'm not going to repeat the story here. The story line is serviceable, but not as important as the situations and the set pieces. Mundane things like light bulbs and back porches become magical in this movie, though exactly what kind of magic is open to debate.But I will say that this is the best of W.C. Fields's films, and that's saying something though I do like "Million Dollar Legs" an awful lot . And I'd put "It's a Gift" in the Top 10 list of the best sound comedies ever made, and maybe in the Top 5.The production is about as tacky as Golden Age <more>
Paramount was capable of. Compared to the Marx Brother's "Duck Soup" which was made in the same place at almost the same time, it looks like home movies. But "It's a Gift" is every bit as funny as "Duck Soup," if not more so, and has aged less than Paramount's high-style comedies with MacDonald and Chevalier which are still wonderful but require more of an effort from modern audiences .Whether you plug into Fields's comedy as a painful commentary on the human condition, or if you just want some belly laughs with no strings attached , this is the film to watch. And if it's the first time you're seeing it, I envy you. And best regards from Carl LaFong.
W.C. Fields as everyman seeking his dreams. (by georgeeliot)
As close to a perfect film as have ever been made. Running a fat free 62 minutes, not a second is wasted. Several of the ten minute scenes were released by Castle films as mini-masterpieces. Each of them can stand alone but are greater as part of the whole. W.C. Fields wrote one of his funniest, and easily most sympathetic role as the loving husband and father who dreams of escaping his life as a Eastern shopkeeper and traveling to sunny California where he can own an orange grove. He wrote wonderful supporting roles including the blind man, Mr. Muckle, and the irritating man looking for Carl <more>
LaFong. He stoicly suffers the barbs of his wife, the indifference of his children, the incompetence of his hired help and the wrath of his customers. When he reaches California and when his dreams appeared dashed, he triumphs at last. The everyman rewarded after suffering the slings and errors of outrageous fortune. It belongs with Homer, with Shakespeare, with Mark Twain. It is perfection.
It's the best--the best W.C. Fields movie, and among the best 30's comedies. Unlike some of the better-known Fields films such as The Bank Dick it never quite washes away into surrealistic campiness--and this near-reality makes it funnier. Fields is the quintessential dreamer-loser who fails and fails and fails until at the very last moment his failures turn into the source of his utterly unexpected but perfectly logical success. Like all great comedy, it's tragedy with a twist and a nice slug of gin to boot .
California Bound (by lugonian)
IT'S A GIFT Paramount, 1934 , directed by Norman McLeod, is hailed as a comedy masterpiece, compliments of the comic supplements by Charles Bogle, better known as WC Fields, in a comedy of frustration, as well as his own interpretation of a typical American family.The plot is simple: Harold Bissonette WC Fields is a henpecked husband with a nagging wife, Amelia Kathleen Howard , a youthful daughter, Mildred Jean Rouverol in love with John Durston Julian Madison , and a brat of a son, Norman Tommy Bupp who can try his father's patience. Harold manages a local grocery store in <more>
New Jersey. His one big desire is to become the owner of an orange grove which he eventually buys, leading him and his family on a wild cross country trip to California.What makes this film stand apart from Fields' other comedies of his day is that this happens to be his most realistic comedy, with gags that could possibly happen to the common man. He avoids slapstick and chases and focuses more on himself and the characters surrounding him, and at the same time, tells his story. Almost like a half-hour sit-com stretched into a one hour special, the opening sequence finds Harold desperately trying to have a little privacy in the bathroom shaving while his daughter, Mildred, monopolizes the mirror by constantly opening and closing the medicine cabinet. Afterwards, Harold, now dressed up, slips on an abandoned roller skate left there by his mischievous son, followed by a family conversation at the breakfast table centering around Uncle Bean, who is expected to die, with the possibility that the family will inherit a great deal of money. Leaving his wife gabbing at the breakfast table, Harold sets out for his daily routine at grocery store where he must cope with his stooge helper Tammany Young who not only lets himself get talked into babysitting Mrs. Dunk's Josephine Whittel troublesome toddler, Elwood Dunk Baby LeRoy who eventually messes up the store by spilling and playing with molasses, but Harold dealing with Mr. Fitchmueller Morgan Wallace , an angry customer who wants to buy kumquats, while at the same time must deal with Mr. Muckle Charles Sellon , a blind and almost deaf man who not only causes frustration to Harold, but must protect his investments, such as the displayed Leadbelly's that soon drop to the sound of firecrackers on the floor, and other breakable items, only to supply the blind man to his needs being only a stick of chewing gum. If the blind man segment isn't funny enough, the sequence that follows could easily be Fields' most memorable scene. In it, Harold tries to get a good night's sleep, but finds he's not getting it with his wife in the same bedroom after learning her husband had bought an orange grove. Now that it's 4 a.m., he decides to gather his pillow and blanket and head for a more peaceful rest on the porch outside. No such luck! This ten minute segment, which is not underscored, contains a milkman rattling his bottles, a coconut that bumps down the stairs by itself, the rattling of overturned garbage cans, Miss Dunk Diana Lewis asking her mother what she wants her to get and where to go Harold, sitting patiently and mumbling under his breath: "I'd like to tell you both where to go!" , Baby Elwood Dunk dropping grapes from the porch upstairs into Harold's open mouth as he tries to snore, as well as an insurance salesman T. Roy Barnes who interrupts Harold's rest by yelling up and asking him where to find a street address and if he knows a Karl LaFong. To make sure he absorbed the name, the man spells it out for him: "capital K, small a, small r, small l, capital L, small a, small F., etc., Only Fields can make this extended sequence work out so well, making a viewer wish it could go on a bit longer. Had it been extended, however, then it would leave little room for what's to follow: Harold gathering his family together in an overcrowded automobile and a cross country drive to California, followed by a family picnic in a park that turns out to be a private estate; and much more before the Bissonette family reach their destination.Besides the memorable Kathleen Howard, making her second of three appearances in a Fields comedy, there comes the classic line that originated here: Harold is told by a buyer that he's drunk. Harold replies, "Yes, but I'll be sober tomorrow, and you'll be crazy for the rest of your life."IT'S A GIFT was dismissed as just another Fields comedy back in 1934, but currently, stands the test of time. This, along with Fields' other classic comedy, THE BANK DICK 1940 , seems to get better each time it's viewed. Fields, whose been dead since 1946, would be happy to know that his little comedy gems are very much appreciated and continue to entertain new generations of movie lovers.IT'S A GIFT, which made its video debut by Kartes Home Entertainment in 1986, is currently available on tape and DVD with a much clearer picture through MCA Home Video. And if anyone becomes bored with today's video taped, staged bound TV sitcoms, check the program guide. If IT'S A GIFT is ever listed on the Turner Classic Movies cable channel, TCM premiere: April 20, 2001 then click to that channel and have a great time. Although Fields and Howard present themselves to appear too old to be playing parents of a child Norman whose possibly 8 years of age, one can overlook this minor flaw. **** oranges
I think only in The Bank Dick was W.C. Fields more henpecked than he is in It's A Gift. He also has a perfect foil for his brand of humor in Kathleen Howard as his wife in the second of three films she did with the man from Philadelphia.In this film more than most of Fields's films I think the real secret of his comedy comes out. I can't think of a single funny line from It's A Gift worth remembering. But what does stick with you are all the gestures and expressions with his body and face that Fields gives us to show the hellhole of his married state.Kathleen Howard in fact <more>
doesn't let the poor guy get a word in edgewise. What a motormouth that woman had, constantly finding fault and running him down from the first to the last minute of the movie. Right at the beginning of the film the poor guy can't even have the bathroom to himself as kids and wife just barge in on him with their problems and complaints. In that scene where Fields is trying to shave, to later on when he goes out on the porch hammock to get some peace and quiet, it's nothing in what he says, but in all the reaction shots where the comedy comes from. Even in the famous scene at the general store with the blind man Mr. Muckle. The comedy is all in Fields's reactions to Muckle running amuck. Trying not to say anything to observe political correctness. Remember Muckle is also identified as the house detective in the hotel across the street.Kathleen Howard serves as Fields's greatest foil, no wonder he did three films with her. Note how Hyacinth like she is in insisting that her name Bissonette be pronounced Bissonay.Still Fields pursues the American dream and when Uncle Bean dies and wills him some California property, he loads up the truck and moves to, well not Beverly Hills, but close enough so he can get an orange grove and grow them. It comes about in an interesting way that you have to see the film for.It's A Gift is one of the finest efforts of America's most beloved misanthropes.
In "It's A Gift", W.C. Fields delivers enjoyable silliness as only he could do it. It's quite a showcase for his brand of humor, and this movie has it all, from sight gags to dry wit to hilarious predicaments to a put-upon hero. There have been few comedians like Fields who could get so much mileage out of simple ideas, or who could make outrageous ideas work so well.The plot ostensibly concerns store owner Harold Bissonette Fields , who dreams of owning an orange ranch in California, but very little actually happens in terms of a story - the emphasis is on the trials of <more>
daily life that Harold must endure. The movie is a series of comic set pieces in which Fields takes a simple situation and turns it into a stream of gags and laughs. His ability to find endless sources of humor in the most mundane of settings is an impressive contrast with the labored and often inappropriate efforts of so many of today's comic actors.In this one, Fields also manages to create a pleasant atmosphere that, despite all the disorder in Harold's life, makes you feel at home with the characters. Many of the scenes also give one of the other cast members a chance for some good moments, and Kathleen Howard helps out a lot, too, as Harold's nagging wife. There's nothing to take seriously here, but if you're in the mood not to take anything seriously, this is a very enjoyable way to spend an hour or so.
Fields' characters are so tragic, you have to laugh. Here is a man with a nagging wife, annoying kids, and lost dreams. I also can't help but think after watching W.C.'s movie that Merrie Melodies cartoons were stealing from him, or vice versa. However, if you're looking for a Fields film to watch I suggest the Bank Dick. If you fall in love with him, watch them all. With Fields, the statement holds "once you've seen one you've seen em all." However, you can't get too much of a good thing. 8/10
A Hero for the Rest of Us (by dougdoepke)
Okay, old movie fans have all kinds of heroes. Guys they can look up to. You know, the masterful types, the ones always in charge of every situation. The ones that always say the right thing, do the right thing, and are always triumphing over bad guys, bad haircuts, and uppity women. They are the Clark Gables, Gary Coopers, and John Waynes, of golden age Hollywood. But now, thanks to the patron saint of demon rum, the meek and mild among us at last have our own hero. Yes, indeed, his name is Harold Bissonette, oops, I mean Bisso-nay. And he is an inspiration to all of us patient and <more>
long-suffering types. You know, those of us who've suffered in silence while awaiting the first cup of morning coffee, or for the screw cap to come off the headache medicine, or for the guy in the supermarket line to cash his check on the Bank of Hong Kong.But now, at last, we have our own hero to glory in. Watch our Harold triumph over a lifetime of annoyance with the meekness of a saint and the mildness of the tongue-tied. Exult in his triumphs over a savage kumquat addict, a berserk blind man, and a six-year old skating fiend. Then scope out the perverse world of the vegetable--- a quirky cocoanut, a rebellious tomato can, a defiant orange. And, if that's not enough, be inspired by the bold and cutting riposte, "Yes, dear" to that drill sergeant wife. But most of all, share in that magnificent intellect that spells the impossibly foreign name "Carl La Fong" without, yes, without a single spelling mistake! Truly a man for all seasons.And finally, get a taste of the heaven that awaits such sly transcendent wisdom. Share in the wealth of our hero's poolside gin and tonic and the emergence of an actual smile. After 90 harrowing minutes, we are now within the pearly gates of true contentment. We are truly rewarded. Without a doubt, this is Fields' finest film.