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Guest dredagain

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The version I have is an excellent print from a showing in Oregon. It

runs 105 minutes (not the 70 or 77 minutes mentioned on IMDb) and

boasts a nice, live piano performance by Keith Taylor. This film was

considered to be lost for many decades but exists in a very nice print.


This film is basically a forerunner of the hilarious 1934 film, IT'S A

GIFT, but is based on a play entitled "The Comic Supplement." As with

most W.C. Fields material, the story here is a mish-mash from several

sources and his own stage routines.


Fields started filing a couple of his stage routines in 1915 as shorts

but was not successful, In 1924 he landed a small but effective role in

Marion Davies' JANICE MEREDITH. He finally landed a starring role in a

feature film the following year in SALLY OF THE SAWDUST, a version of

his stage hit "Poppy." He appeared fairly regularly through the end of

his silent films in 1928.


Here Fields plays a small-town druggist who is much put upon by his

family (a sister and nephew), a local spinster, and the town at large.

His only good relationship is with Brooks, who works in his store. As

with most Fields films, his only close relationships is with a grown

daughter or young lady.


In a subplot, a real estate sharpie (William Gaxton) comes to town and

falls for Brooks. He talks Fields into letting him use his store to

sell New York City lots (not Florida, as mentioned elsewhere). Of

course Gaxton is hauled away by the law and Fields feels compelled to

pay back the money to all the "investors" who have been bilked.


As with IT'S A GIFT, we have scenes on the back porch where Fields is

trying to sleep, the nagging and odious family (Mary Foy, Mickey

Bennett), and a prolonged picnic scene on the grounds of a private

estate. This version also has Fields hassling with NYC traffic (the

wrong way on a one way street) as he ventures to right the wrongs of



Of course Gaxton is freed and the investors all become rich, so when

Fields returns to town and sees the crowds, he's afraid they are out to

get him. This leads to a chase scene where Fields ends up in jail.


Heavy on the sentimental melodrama, IT'S THE OLD ARMY GAME is not

really a comedy, but a film with comic scenes. Fields never really

became a comedian until the talkies, where his films were trimmed of

melodrama and his famous rasping voice finally gave him a personality.

His decades-long stage career was spent mainly as a silent juggler.


Yet Fields is certainly impressive here (as he was in SALLY OF THE

SAWDUST) but the meandering storyline doesn't help much. Louise Brooks

is just stunning here as the small-town girl. Gaxton and Foy are OK.

Bennett is a little brat, and Blanche Ring is funny as the fluttery

spinster who pines for Fields. Also funny is one of Fields favorites,

Elise Cavanna as the near-sighted woman who wants a 2-cent stamp.

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