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  You're Telling Me! Keep Your Eye On The Ball
Year: 1934
Director: Erle C. Kenton
Stars: W.C. Fields, Joan Marsh, Buster Crabbe, Adrienne Ames, Louise Carter, Kathleen Howard, Tammany Young, Dell Henderson, James B. 'Pop' Kenton, Robert McKenzie, Nora Cecil, George Irving
Genre: ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Samuel Bisbee (W.C. Fields) is wending his way home after a night of imbibing with his friends, but is somewhat inebriated and has trouble lining himself up with his front door, never mind fitting the key in the lock. Luckily he is an inventor as well as an optometrist and has devised a gadget to hang on the doorknob that allows him to accurately find the lock with the key, but his wife (Louise Carter) will be the most formidable obstacle he will face tonight, as with every night...

The patron saint of put-upon husbands everywhere, W.C. Fields was already proving here he had what it takes to make it in the talkies and You're Telling Me! provided him wiith what was his first starring role in a feature. He had enjoyed success in short films of his routines and as part of an ensemble cast, but here he was the star of the show, so much so that when he's not on screen you tend to grow restless, especially with the dull romantic business between Bisbee's daughter (Joan Marsh) and her would-be fiancé (Buster Crabbe).

Once you're over the shock of seeing Crabbe with dark hair - he was a blond in Flash Gordon, after all - the plot can begin, which involves Bisbee's daughter Pauline and her trials with boyfriend Bob Murchison's snobby and upper class family who don't wish to see the marriage go ahead especially when Bob's mother encounters Bisbee on a visit to see Pauline's mother. He effectively ruins the chances of the nuptials with his insenstivity and inappropriate behaviour, but as always Fields has the complete sympathy of the audience.

The film gets off to a strong start, with Bisbee's parallel carrer as an inventor supplying many of the biggest laughs. He has created a puncture-proof tire which he foolhardily demonstrates by firing a pistol at it and catching the bullet in a baseball glove - what could possibly go wrong when the time comes to demonstrate it to a board of businessmen who have expressed an interest? How about his own car, the one fitted with the special tyres, being pushed away by the cops who park their own car in the spot while Bisbee is inside?

Well, you don't need to be clairvoyant to work out what happens next, and Bisbee is so upset he takes the next train out of town, planning to drink a bottle of iodine and commit suicide. However, he has an encounter with a Russian princess (Adrienne Ames) who he so impresses that she is the architect of his luck turning. To be honest, there's a dip in the middle of You're Telling Me! where the humour grows thin, but then the film recovers about the time Fields is negotiating with an ostrich (a present for his wife - of course it is), and the reappearance of his routine from his short The Golf Specialist is always welcome, and needless to say absolutely hilarious. The happy ending is just the tonic for the blues, as is the star.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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Erle C. Kenton  (1896 - 1980)

American director who made over 100 films in a 50 year career. Worked as a bit-part actor before making his feature debut in 1919, and was best known for directing comedies, including two of Abbott & Costello’s best films – Pardon My Sarong and Who Done It?. Kenton also proved adept in the horror genre, directing the 1933 classic Island of Lost Souls, with Charles Laughton, as well as House of Dracula, Ghost of Frankenstein and The Cat Creeps. Died from Parkinson's disease in 1980.

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