The Magnificent Dope

  • 1942
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Comedy, Drama

This picture misfires in an attempt to give Fonda the same kind of role as James Stewart in 1939's MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON or Gary Cooper in MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN (1936). Fonda, however, is not just a big, rawboned guy. No, he is a big, rawboned lazy guy from Vermont who works during the short New England summer renting boats, then settles in for...read more

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This picture misfires in an attempt to give Fonda the same kind of role as James Stewart in 1939's MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON or Gary Cooper in MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN (1936). Fonda, however, is not just a big, rawboned guy. No, he is a big, rawboned lazy guy from Vermont who works during

the short New England summer renting boats, then settles in for the long winter and waits for summer again. He has no ambition and prides himself on that, so when aggressive Ameche, who heads a Dale Carnegie-type school, runs a contest to find the nation's biggest loser (in order to help his own

failing business), Fonda is chosen to get the big $500 prize as well as a free course at Ameche's school. Ameche's girl friend is Bari, and Fonda is soon in love with her. Too timid to let her know, he asks her advice as to how to win the hand of a Vermont girl who is, of course, nonexistent. Bari

tells Fonda how to woo the woman, and Fonda uses her suggestions on her. Ameche is no slouch, so he spots this growing attraction and encourages Fonda to make an effort to win Bari, saying what really impresses her is a man of ambition, not one of sloth. Ameche, as high-powered in this as he was

in CONFIRM OR DENY, gets Fonda employment as an insurance agent. Fonda moves at a snail's pace but is able to sell a huge policy to wealthy Barbier, a man who had shunned insurance men due to their hard sell tactics and who had been turned down in the past because of high blood pressure. Fonda's

laidback ways bring Barbier's blood pressure down, and the man is able to pass the medical examination. Fonda makes a bundle on the deal and uses it to buy a new fire engine for his small Vermont town. Bari has learned that Ameche was willing to allow her to have a fling with Fonda just so he

could publicize his school and the success of making the country's biggest loser into a winner. Bari goes back to Vermont with Fonda, but Ameche also gains, having learned a great deal from Fonda, and is now selling his school's services by using Fonda's calm technique. Ameche winds up with more

students than he's ever hoped for. The picture did well, but Fonda didn't enjoy doing it. The most famous line in the picture is "I've no respect for a man who was born lazy. It took me a long time to get where I am." For a man as industrious as Fonda, that was a stretch.

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  • Rating: NR
  • Review: This picture misfires in an attempt to give Fonda the same kind of role as James Stewart in 1939's MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON or Gary Cooper in MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN (1936). Fonda, however, is not just a big, rawboned guy. No, he is a big, rawboned lazy… (more)

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